Malesian Euphorbiaceae Descriptions

48. FALCONERIA (Euphorbiaceae)


H.-J. Esser


Esser, H.-J. 1999. A partial revision of the Hippomaneae (Euphorbiaceae) in Malesia. Blumea 44: 149215.


Goto on this page:

Genus description

Species description


Falconeria Royle


    Falconeria Royle, Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. (1839) 354, tab. 84; Endl., Gen. Pl. Suppl. 1 (18361840) 1376; Wight, Icon. Pl. Ind. Orient. 5, 2 (1853) 20, tab. 1866; Baill., Étude Euphorb. (1858) 526; Müll.Arg., Linnaea 32 (1863) 83; Benth., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 17 (1878) 242; L.C.Wheeler, Taxon 24 (1975) 535; Kruijt, Biblioth. Bot. 146 (1996) 90; Esser, Blumea 44 (1999) 161; in Radcl.-Sm., Gen. Euphorbiacearum (2001) 372; Esser & Welzen in Chayam. & Welzen, Fl. Thailand 8, 1 (2005) 298; G.L.Webster in Kubitzki, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 11 (2014) 203. Excoecaria sect. Falconeria (Royle) Müll.Arg. in DC., Prodr. 15, 2 (1866) 1211. Sapium sect. Falconeria (Royle) Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 5 (1888) 471; Pax in Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. 3, 5 (1890) 98; T.Post & Kuntze, Lex. Gen. Phan. (1903) 498; Pax & K.Hoffm. in Engl., Pflanzenr. IV.147.v (1912) 241; in Engl. & Harms, Nat. Pflanzenfam. ed. 2, 19c (1931) 202. Lectotype ( designated by Pfeiffer, Nomencl. Bot. 1, 2, 1874, 1334): Falconeria insignis Royle.

    Gymnobothrys Wall. in Baill., Étude Euphorb. (1858) 526, nomen in synon.


Trees, with whorled distal branches, slightly succulent and shrinking when dry. Monoecious. Deciduous, fruiting when leafless. Indumentum absent. Stipules divided into 2 or 3 ciliae, glandless. Leaves alternate but apically crowded; petiole 0.66 cm long, much shorter than blade, apically above with a symmetrical or asymmetrical pair of disc- to cup-shaped glands on the junction with the blade; blade elliptic, 211 cm wide, base attenuate to acute, margin serrate with mostly persistent glandular teeth (1)23.5 mm apart, apex acuminate, glandless above, lower surface neither whitish-farinose nor papillate and with a row of few marginal glands, basal glands not differing, secondary veins distinct, arching but not joined towards the margin, basal ones not to slightly different in angle with midrib, intersecondary veins present but indistinct, smaller veins densely distinct, reticulate. Inflorescences terminal, yellowish, not compound, basally with no or inconspicuous (less than 10 mm long) sterile basal region, unisexual with staminate and pistillate flowers in separate thyrses of equal size, 90170 mm long, staminate thyrses 57 mm in diam. Bracts of staminate cymules transversely ovate, apically rounded, at base with a pair of oblong-flattened to disc-shaped glands touching the axis of the inflorescence. Staminate cymules 915-flowered; bracteoles present, completely divided into 2 or 3 ciliae. Staminate flowers nearly sessile in bud, with short pedicel (less than 1 mm) during flowering, pedicel apically articulate; calyx with 2 largely fused sepals; stamens 2, filaments slightly longer than anthers. Pistillate flowers in separate thyrse, c. 3060 per thyrse; pedicel very short; calyx with 3 sepals, basally fused, glandless; ovary 2- or 3-locular, smooth; style short, sometimes hardly visible, stigmata 2 or 3, undivided, glandless. Fruits with a short pedicel (0.52 mm long); 2- or 3-seeded, smooth, pericarp partly fleshy in young fruits, later on dry, very thin (c. 0.1 mm) and fragile, tardily and irregularly dehiscing; columella alate with marginal vascular bundle, central part membranous and caducous. Seeds pale, with a thin fleshy arillus, not carunculate.

    Distribution Monotypic, from India and Sri Lanka to Indo-China, China, Thailand and in Malesia only known from the Malay Peninsula (excl. Singapore).

    Note The characters used to distinguish taxa within this genus are not reliable. Obviously, a further division of this apparently monotypic genus is not justified.


Falconeria insignis Royle


    Falconeria insignis Royle, Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. (1839) 354, tab. 84a or 98 fig. 2; Kruijt, Biblioth. Bot. 146 (1996) 90; Esser, Blumea 44 (1999) 162, Fig. 2, Map 2; Esser & Welzen in Chayam. & Welzen, Fl. Thailand 8, 1 (2005) 299, fig. 74. Excoecaria insignis (Royle) Müll.Arg. in DC., Prodr. 15, 2 (1866) 1212. Carumbium insigne (Royle) Kurz, Forest Fl. Burma 2 (1877) 412. Sapium insigne (Royle) Trimen, Syst. Cat. Fl. Pl. Ceylon (1885) 83; Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 5 (1888) 471; G.Watts, Dict. Econ. Prod. India 6, 2 (1893) 471; Pax & K.Hoffm. in Engl., Pflanzenr. IV.147.v (1912) 241; Burkill, J. & Proc. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 12 (1916) 263; Gagnep. in Lecomte, Fl. Indo-Chine 5 (1926) 394, 395; Airy Shaw, Kew Bull. 26 (1972) 330; Whitmore, Tree Fl. Malaya 2 (1973) 128, 129; P.H.Hō, Cāyco Viźtnam 2, 1 (1992) 355; I.M.Turner, Gard. Bull. 47 (1995) 231; Y.C.Tseng, Fl. Reipubl. Pop. Sin. 44(3) (1997) 20. Sapium insigne (Royle) Trimen var. genuinum Pax in Engl., Pflanzenr. IV.147.v (1912) 242, nom. inval. Lectotype (designated by Esser, 1999): Royle s.n. (LIV 7022 i), India, ”Deyra Doon and above Rajpore”; see note 1.

    Falconeria wallichiana Royle, Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. (1839) 354. Falconeria wallichii Royle, Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. (1839) tab. 84a or 98 fig. 3. Lectotype (designated by Esser, 1999): Royle s.n. (LIV 7022 iii pro parte), ”Burupa in Nepal”; see note 1.

    Gymnobothrys lucida Wall. in Baill., Étude Euphorb. (1858) 527, nomen in synon.


Falcinsi-habit.gif (74368 bytes)    Falcinsi-male.gif (92798 bytes)    Falcinsi-fruit.gif (108823 bytes)


Tree, up to 40 m high, d.b.h. up to 50 cm, bole unbuttressed, crown spreading. Bark extremely thick and very rough, light brown; inner bark pale yellow. Branchlets light brown, with conspicuous leaf scars. Slash pale yellow. Stipules c. 0.75 by 1 mm. Leaves: petiole 0.6–6 cm long, with distal petiolar glands 0.75–1.5 mm in diam.; blade elliptic, (4.5–)8–33 by (2–)4–11 cm, base attenuate to acute, margin hardly revolute, upper surface hardly shining, lower surface somewhat brighter and glandless or with 1–7 glands per side, 0.25–0.5 mm in diam. and strictly marginal, often even in lateral auricles of the blade, secondary veins (13–)16–23 pairs, angle with midrib 65–75°, basal veins not differing or diverging with smaller angle. Inflorescences on conspicuously thicker branches, fertile part 90–170 mm long in both sexes, axis 1.5–2.5 mm in diam. Bracts c. 0.75 mm long, their glands 1.75–3.5 by 1 mm and mostly completely along the axis, therefore often separate from the bract. Staminate flowers: pedicel up to 0.25–0.5 mm long; calyx 0.75–1 mm long; stamens with filaments 0.75–1 mm long, anthers 0.4–0.6 mm long. Pistillate flowers: pedicel 0–1 mm long; calyx 1.5–2 mm long; style c. 0.5 mm long, stigmata 0.5–1 mm long. Fruits: pedicel 0.5–2 mm long; schizocarp 7 by 4.5–6 mm. Seeds 5 by 4.5 mm.

    Distribution Sri Lanka, S and NW India to Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam, and SW China (Yunnan, Szechuan: Lee, 1956), reaching its southern limit in Malesia: Malay Peninsula (excl. Singapore).


Falcinsi-map.gif (50217 bytes)


    Habitat & Ecology Found in deciduous forest, on slopes, in rocky places, in full sun. Soil: limestone, granitic bedrock. Occasional to locally common. Altitude 100900 m. Flowering: March to April; fruiting: February, April, October. The flowers are visited by Melipona bees [Burkill, J. & Proc. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 12 (1916) 263].

    Vernacular names Thailand: Tang ta bawl.

    Uses The species was recently recorded as a fish stupefying plant [Kulkarni et al., Indian Forester 116 (1990) 333]. The latex is toxic to skin and eyes.

    Notes 1. The Royle types, preserved at LIV, were not cited in the publication of Harrison (1978). Through the efforts of A. Gunn, however, they could be traced at LIV. There are three sheets at LIV (7022 iiii). Only the first one (7022 i) has a label, citing the locality ”Doon” and the native names ”Chhiria”, ”Chirun”, and ”Khira”; it contains only female flowers. The sheet 7022 ii has no label and only female flowers. The third one, 7022 iii, has two envelopes with fragments of female and male flowers; one of the envelopes contains immature male flowers (with short filaments), the other one immature and mature male flowers (the latter with long filaments). The sepals are nearly entire and similar in all cases. The sheet 7022 i is selected as lectotype for Falconeria insignis because it has the label with all details given by Royle, although the specimen does not show Royle’s characters for the species, which was based on male flowers (”sepalis denticulatis, filamentis longioribus”). No label data for Falconeria wallichiana are present except the native name ”Kheera”(= ?”Khira”). The first envelope of the sheet 7022 iii is selected as lectotype for F. wallichiana (”sepalis integerrimis, filamentis brevioribus”).

Müller Argoviensis (1866) cited an isotype at K, which could not be found during a visit to K.

2. The carpel number of Falconeria is a much discussed matter. In fact, usually the carpel number is constant in a single plant, and 2-locular ovaries are most common. However, at least two collections studied showed 2- and 3-locular ovaries or fruits together in the same thyrse (Jayasuriya & Sumithraarachchi 1616, Matthew RHT 26838). Therefore, a separation on species level is certainly not justified. The recognition of varieties may be reasonable, but will not be applied here. The only available Malesian specimens, Congdon 747 and KEP FRI (Ng) 1626, contain only staminate flowers and leaves, thus the carpel number is unknown.