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File:Alangium platanifolium.jpg
Alangium platanifolium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae (Alangiaceae)
Genus: Alangium
Type species
Alangium salviifolium

about 24 species. (See text)

Alangium is a small genus of flowering plants. The genus is included either in a broad view of the dogwood family Cornaceae, or as the sole member of its own family Alangiaceae.[1] Alangium has about 24 species, but some of the species boundaries are not entirely clear.[2] The type species for Alangium is Alangium decapetalum, which is now treated as a subspecies of Alangium salviifolium.[3] All of the species are shrubs or small trees, except the liana Alangium kwangsiense.[2] A. chinense, A. platanifolium, and A. salviifolium are known in cultivation.[4]

The genus consists of 24 species of small trees, shrubs and lianas, and is native to western Africa, Madagascar, southern and eastern Asia (China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines), tropical Australia, the western Pacific Ocean islands, and New Caledonia. Most of the species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of east and southeast Asia.[2] Five of the species extend well outside of this area. Alangium platanifolium extends from east Asia into Russia. Alangium chinense (sensu lato) extends from southeast Asia to Africa. Alangium salviifolium is the most widespread species, ranging from Africa to Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia. Alangium villosum occurs from southeast Asia to Australia and the western Pacific Islands. Alangium grisolleoides is endemic to Madagascar and gives the genus a disjunct distribution.

Alangium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species in the Geometroidea-Drepanoidea assemblage including the Engrailed (Geometridae) and the subfamily Cyclidiinae (Drepanidae).

The name Alangium is a Latinization, derived from the Malayalam name Alangi, which, in Kerala, refers to Alangium salviifolium.[5] It was named in 1783 by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in his Encyclopédie Méthodique.[6][7]

The wood, fruit, and pollen of Alangium are distinctive. Fossils of Alangium have been recognized from the early Eocene of England and the middle Eocene of western North America. In former times, Alangium was far more widespread than it is today.[2]



Differences from the other genera in Cornaceae include articulated pedicels, subulate bracts, bitegmic seeds and the single-seeded fruit. The entire or lobed leaves are alternate. The bisexual (rarely unisexual) nectariferous flowers are arranged in axillary cymes. The flowers have 4-10 small sepals and 4-10 linear petals. There are 4–40 stamens distributed in a single cycle. The ovary is inferior and bilocular (sometimes unilocular). The fruit is drupe.

A detailed description of Alangium can be found at Flora of China (journal).[8] Detailed botanical illustrations are available for several species.[9]


In 2011, a Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences showed that Alangium is sister to Cornus.[1] Since 1939, Alangium has been divided into four sections: Conostigma, Rhytidandra, Marlea, and Alangium. Some authors have raised Marlea and Rhytidandra to generic rank. The intergeneric classification of Alangium will require a few changes.[2]

Traditional uses

One species, Alangium chinense (Chinese: 八角枫; pinyin: bā jiǎo fēng), is considered one of the fifty fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Qiu-Yun (Jenny) Xiang, David T. Thomas, and Qiao Ping Xiang. 2011. "Resolving and dating the phylogeny of Cornales - Effects of taxon sampling, data partitions, and fossil calibrations". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59(1):123-138. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.01.016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Chun-Miao Feng, Steven R. Manchester, and Qiu-Yun (Jenny) Xiang. 2009. "Phylogeny and biogeography of Alangiaceae (Cornales) inferred from DNA sequences, morphology, and fossils". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51(2):201-214. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.01.017
  3. Alangium In: Index Nominum Genericorum. In: Regnum Vegetabile (see External links below).
  4. Anthony Huxley, Mark Griffiths, and Margot Levy (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. The Macmillan Press,Limited: London. The Stockton Press: New York. ISBN 978-0-333-47494-5 (set).
  5. Umberto Quattrocchi. 2000. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names volume I. CRC Press: Boca Raton; New York; Washington,DC;, USA. London, UK. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2 (vol. I). (see External links below).
  6. Alangium At: International Plant Names Index. (See External links below).
  7. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. 1783. Encyclopédie Méthodique: botanique. 1(1):174 (See External links below).
  8. Haining Qin and Chamlong Phengklai. 2007. Alangium pages 304-308. In: Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven, and Hong Deyuan (editors). 1994 onward. Flora of China vol. 13: Clusiaceae - Araliaceae. Science Press: Beijing, China; and Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis, MO, USA. ISBN 978-1-930723-59-7(vol. 13) ISBN 978-0-915279-34-0 (set). (See External links below).
  9. Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven, Hong Deyuan (editors), and Zhang Libing (illustrations editor). 2008. Flora of China Illustrations, vol. 13: Clusiaceae - Araliaceae: 328-333. Science Press: Beijing, China; and Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis, MO, USA. ISBN 978-1-930723-80-1.

External links