Lianas or scandent shrubs climbing by hooked apices of sympodial branches; juvenile growth erect, shrubby, monopodial; plants externally glabrous. Leaves alternate; juvenile leaves crowded in terminal rosettes; adult leaves distributed along stems and clustered terminally on branches; stipules absent or tiny and caducous; petiole absent, though leaves often appearing pseudopetiolate due to long attenuate base of blade; leaf blade simple, entire, both surfaces with sparsely to moderately distributed small pits, each pit containing a single trichome that secretes a waxy substance. Flowers small, bisexual, in extra-axillary or apparently terminal dichotomously branched panicles with higher order branches sometimes becoming racemiform or spiciform, regular except for often unequal sepals. Bracts tiny, subtending axes and pedicels. Sepals (4 or)5, seated on middle or upper part of ovary, imbricate, equal or unequal, accrescent and winglike in fruit. Petals (4 or)5, distinct or slightly connate at base, imbricate, convolute, and/or intermediate in bud. Stamens 10, in 1 or 2 whorls, equal or 5 somewhat larger than others, or seldom 8 or only 5; filaments equal or unequal in length, somewhat connate at base and adnate to base of petals; anthers basifixed, tetrasporangiate and dithecal, introrse, opening by longitudinal slits. Gynoecium of 3 carpels united to form a compound, 1-loculed ovary; ovary inferior or partially inferior; ovule solitary, basilateral, hemitropous, bitegmic; styles 1 or usually 3, thickened, oblong; stigmas 3. Fruit a nut surrounded by corky hypanthium and crowned by often unequal sepals. Seed with hard, starchy, ruminate endosperm; embryo short, straight.
One genus and 16 or 17 species: tropical Africa, India, Sri Lanka, SE Asia; one species in China.
Ku Tsuechih. 1999. Ancistrocladaceae. In: Ku Tsuechih, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 52(1): 270-271.
"Stamens perigynous, 5 or 10; anther-cells slightly unequal, with a shortly produced connective"
"Calyx-tube at first short, at length adnate to the base of the ovary, with imbricate lobes; tube adnate to the fruit, with spreading wing-like unequal lobes"
"Flowers hermaphrodite, actmomorphic, small, soon falling off, in terminal panicles, the branches of which are recurved"
"Leaves alternate, simple, entire, leathery; indumentum absent; stipules inconspicuous or caducous"
"Fruit turbinate, surrounded by the wing-like calyx-lobes, with a leathery indehiscent pericarp"