Small trees, shrubs, or rarely perennial herbs. Branchlets often with prominent lenticels. Leaves opposite, simple, trifoliolate, to pinnately compound, entire or variously toothed, occasionally lobed; stipules present or absent. Inflorescences determinate, terminal, paniculate or umbel-like cymes, sometimes the outer flowers sterile and with enlarged petals. Flowers bisexual, regular or irregular, 3–5-merous. Sepals 2–5, fused, reduced, with only a single vascular trace. Petals 3–5, spreading, often with a short tube, and well-developed. Nectar produced by glandular hairs on top of ovary (Viburnum), or nectary absent (Sambucus). Stamens 5, sometimes divided and appearing as 10 filaments, fused to base of corolla, inserted in corolla tube; anthers 2-locular, dehiscence by longitudinal slits. Ovary inferior or half-inferior, 1–5-locular; ovules 1 or more in each loculus, with axile placentation. Style(s) short, stigma capitate or lobed. Fruit a drupe. Seeds 1–5.
Adoxaceae has traditionally been treated as part of Caprifoliaceae. This treatment follows Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards).
Adoxaceae is readily distinguished from Caprifoliaceae by its radial (vs bilateral) flowers, with a short (vs elongate) style, and a glandular nectary on top of the ovary or nectary absent (vs nectary composed of glandular hairs on the lower part of corolla tube) (Judd et al 2016).
5 genera and c. 200 species, in northern temperate to tropical montane regions, S.E. Australia, rare in Africa; 2 genera in Australia, and 5 species (2 species endemic, 2 species naturalised).
Judd et al. (2016); Stevens (2001 onwards).
Created by: Val Stajsic
Updated by: Val Stajsic, May 2018