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  • Haemodoraceae R.Br.

This family is accepted.


Maas, P.J.M. & Maas-van de Kamer, H. (2009). Neotropical Haemodoraceae.


Perennial , herbs, rhizomatose, sometimes stoloniferous or cormiferous, often with red latex . Leaves parallel-veined, distichous , equitant, linear or ensiform, mainly radical, sheathing at the base. Inflorescence a terminal , bracteate thyrse, the partial inflorescences lax or dense cincinni. Indument of inflorescence and floral parts composed of simple hairs or lacking. Flowers actinomorphic to zygomorphic , shortly pedicellate; tepals 6, arranged in 2 whorls, free or basally connate ; stamens 1-3, unequal, inserted at the base of the inner tepals, filaments short, basifixed, introrsely and longitudinally dehiscent ; staminodes 0-2, inserted at the base of the inner tepals (Pyrrorhiza Maguire & Wurdack) or outer tepals (Schiekia Meisn.); style 1, filiform , stigma simple to slightly 3-lobulate; ovary superior to inferior, 3-locular, ovules 2-many, anatropous, placentation axile , septal nectaries present (except in Xiphidium Aubl.). Fruit a 3-locular, loculicidally dehiscent capsule . Seeds 2-many per locule , tuberculate , hairy, or glabrous .

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • All over the Neotropics, but also in the USA and Canada (Lachnanthes Elliott).
General Description
Number of genera
  • Lachnanthes - (1 sp.)
  • Pyrrorhiza - (1 sp.)
  • Schiekia - (1 sp.)
  • Xiphidium - (2 spp.)
  • All genera are native in the Neotropics.
General notes
  • The red-coloured pigment often present in the underground parts - arylphenalenone haemocorin - is unique in the Plant Kingdom.
Notes on delimitation
  • The Haemodoraceae family is placed in the order of Commelinales, together with 2 families which also occur in the Neotropics, namely Commelinaceae and Pontederiaceae.
Useful tips for generic identification

Key to genera of Neotropical Haemodoraceae

1. Ovary inferior; stamens 3; inflorescence and outer side of tepals densely covered with white, woolly hairs ... Lachnanthes
1. Ovary superior; stamens 1 or 3; inflorescence and outer side of tepals glabrous to hairy, but never covered with woolly hairs ... 2

2. Inflorescence a thyrse, composed of two to four 5-7-flowered cincinni; stamen 1; cormiferous herbs ... Pyrrorhiza
2. Inflorescence a thyrse, composed of many 3-25-flowered cincinni; stamens 3; rhizomatous herbs ... 3

3. Staminodes 2; outer side of tepals hairy; ovary with 3-6 ovules per locule; fruit with 2-4 seeds per locule... Schiekia
3. Staminodes absent; outer side of tepals glabrous; ovary with 7-many ovules per locule; fruit with many seeds per locule... Xiphidium

Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Perennial herbs.
  • Leaves distichous, equitant, parallel-veined.
  • Inflorescence a terminal thyrse.
  • Indument of inflorescence and floral parts (if present) composed of simple hairs.
  • Tepals 6, in 2 whorls.
  • Ovary 3-locular.
  • Placentation axile.
  • Fruit a loculicidally dehiscentcapsule.
Other important characters
  • Plants often with red sap in the rhizomes or stolons.
  • Leaves linear to ensiform.
  • Stamens 1-3, unequal.
  • 0-2 staminodes present in 2 genera.
  • Ovarysuperior to inferior.
  • Ovules 2-many.
Key differences from similar families

Haemodoraceae could easily be confused with Iridaceae because of their distichous, equitant, parallel-veined, narrow leaves. They differ, however, by:

  • The red sap in their underground parts.
  • Unequal stamens.
  • Sometimes having staminodes.
Important literature

Maas, P.J.M. & H. Maas-van de Kamer. 1993. Haemodoraceae. Flora Neotropica Monograph 61: 1-44.

Simpson, M.G. 1998. Haemodoraceae. In: K. Kubitzki  (ed.), The families and genera of vascular plants 4: 212-222.

Haemodoraceae R.Br. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland. 299. 1810 [27 Mar 1810] (1810)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.