The Infrafamilial Taxonomy of African Sapindaceae

Main Article Content

T. O. Onuminya et al.


A brief historical taxonomic sketch as well as distribution of Sapindaceae in West Africa, Cameroon and Madagascar is presented based on extensive study of herbaria and field collections. The infrafamilial taxonomy of the family Sapindaceae was re-examined using both qualitative and quantitative morphological characters. A total of 17 vegetative and 24 reproductive characters were used in the description of the family. 2 subfamilies were recognised; a strongly predominant subfamily – Sapindoideae – with 8 tribes and subfamily – Dodonaeoideae – comprising 3 tribes. A total of 28 genera and 118 species were recorded in the study area. The most diverse genera are Allophylus with 20 species followed by Placodiscus with 17 species and Chytranthus with 14 species. Members of the family are characterised by compound leaves (paripinnate, imparipinnate or trifoliate); flowers are in spirits, fruits occur as berry, drupe or capsule and contain seed with white or orange aril. A descriptive key for the identification of each genus is given.

Article Details

How to Cite
Onuminya et al., T. (2018). The Infrafamilial Taxonomy of African Sapindaceae. Journal of Scientific Research and Development, 17(1), 34-39. Retrieved from


Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG II) (2003). An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141: 399–436.
Bentham, G. and Hooker J. D. (1862). Genera Plantarum: Ad Exemplaria Imprimis In Herbarius Kewensibus Servata. Voluminis Primi, Pars 1. London: Black A, Hookerian Herbarium, Kew. 454pp.
Buerki, S., Forest, F., Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., Callmander, M. W., Nylander, J. A. A., Harrington, M., Sanmartín, I., Küpfer, P., and Alvarez, N. (2009). Plastid and nuclear DNA markers reveal intricate relationships at subfamilial and tribal levels in the soapberry family (Sapindaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 238–258.
Buerki, S., Phillipson, P. B., Lowry II, P. P. and Callmander, M. W. (2010). Molecular phylogenetics and morphological evidence support recognition of Gereaua, a new endemic genus of Sapindaceae from Madagascar. Systematic Botany 35: 172–180.
Burkhill, H. M. (2000). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Volume 5, Edition 2. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London. 686pp.
Cambessedes, A. (1828). Myrtus grumixama Vell. Florae Fluminensis 5: 2163
Capuron, R. (1969). Révision des Sapindacées de Madagascar et des Comores. Memoirs du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle Serie B. Botanique 19: 1–189.
Cheek, M., Onana, J. M. and Pollard, B. J. (2000). The Plants of mount Oku and the Ijim ridge, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. 211pp.
Cronquist, A. (1988). The Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants. Second edition. New York: New York Botanic Gardens. 555pp.
Dahlgren, G. (1989). An updated system of classification. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 100: 197–203.
Fouilloy, R. and Hallé, N. (1973). Flora of Cameroon: Sapindaceae. Volume 16. National Museum of Natural History, Paris. 202pp.
Gadek, P. A., Fernando, E. S., Quinn, C. J., Hoot, S. B., Terrazas, T., Sheahan, M. C., Chase, M. W. (1996). Sapindales: molecular delimitation and infraordinal groups. American Journal of Botany 83: 802–811.
Harrington, M. G., Edwards, K. J., Johnson, S. A., Chase, M. W., Gadek, P. A. (2005). Phylogenetic inference in Sapindaceae sensu lato using plastid matK and rbcL DNA sequences. Systematic Botany 30: 366–382.
Hutchinson, J. and Daziel, J. M. (1958). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, Part 2. Crown Agents for Oversea Government and Administrations, Millbank, London. 828pp.
International Plant Names Index (IPNI) (2011). Available: (Accessed on 1st December 2015)
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN R.L.) (2008). The IUCN red list of threatened species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Judd, W. S., Sanders, R. W. and Donoghue, M. J. (1994). Angiosperm family pairs: preliminary phylogenetic analyses. Harvard Papers in Botany 5: 1–51.
Jussieu, A. L. (1789). Genera Plantarum Secundum Ordines Naturales Disposita, Juxia Methodum in Horto Regio Parisiensi Exaratam, Anno 1774. Paris: Herissant and Barrois. 453pp.
Müller, J. and Leenhouts, P. W. (1976). A general survey of pollen types in Sapindaceae in relation to taxonomy. In: The Evolutionary Significance of the Exine. Ferguson, I. K. and Müller, J. (Eds.). London: Academic Press. p. 407–445.
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B. and Kent, J. (2000.). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858.
Programme, U. (2011). Biodiversity in Africa. Retrieved from
Radlkofer, L. (1890). Ueber die Gliederung der Familie der Sapindaceen. Sitzungsberichte der Königl. Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München 20: 105–379.
Radlkofer, L. (1933). Sapindaceae. In: Engler, A. (Ed.) Das Pflanzenreich: Regni Vegetabilis Conspectus (IV) 165 (Heft 98ah). Leipzig, Verlag von Wilhelm, Engelmann. p. 983–1002.
Savolainen, V., Fay, M. F., Albach, D. C., Backlund, M., Van der Bank, M., Cameron, K. M., Johnson, S. A., Lledó, L., Pintaud, J. C., Powell, M., Sheanan, M. C., Soltis, D. E., Soltis, P. S., Weston, P., Whitten, W. M., Wurdack, K. J. and Chase, M. W. (2000). Phylogeny of the eudicots: A nearly complete familial analysis of the rbcL gene sequences. Kew Bulletin 55: 257–309.
Takhtajan, A. (1987). Systema Magnoliophytorum. Russia: Soviet Sciences Press, Leningrad. 437pp.
Thorne, R. F. (2000). The classification and geography of the flowering plants: dicotyledons of the class Angiospermae. Botanical Reviews 66: 441–647.
Thorne, R. F. (2007). An update classification of the class Magnoliopsida (‘‘Angiospermae”). Botanical Reviews 73: 67–182.
Umadevi, I. and Daniel, M. (1991). Chemosystematics of the Sapindaceae. Feddes Repertorium 102: 607–612.
World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) (2012). Global Biodiversity: Status of the Earth’s Living Resources. Springer Science and Business Media, Netherlands. 585pp.