Myrsinaceae, or the Myrsine family, is a rather large family from the order Ericales. It consists of 35 genera and about 1000 species.

It is a widespread family belonging to temperate to tropical climates extending north to Europe, Siberia, Japan, Mexico and Florida, and south to New Zealand, South America, and South Africa.

They are mostly mesophytic trees and shrubs; a few are lianas or sub-herbaceous. The leathery, evergeen leaves are simple and alternate, with smooth margins and without stipules. They are often dotted with glands and resinous cavities.

The plants are mostly monoecious, but a few are dioecious. The small flowers are growing in racemose terminal clusters, or in the leaf axils. The flowers are 4-merous or 5-merous, i.e they have 4 or 5 sepals and petals. The floral envelope (= perianth) has a distinct calyx and corolla. The calyx is regular and polysepalous. The non-fleshy petals of the corolla are more or less united, closely overlapping. There are 4 or 5 stamens, usually isomerous with the perianth. The carpel has one style and one stigma, with the ovary unilocular, superior or semi-inferior.

The one-seeded, indehiscent fruit is a thin-fleshed berry or drupe.

North-American species are the Marlberry (Ardisia escalloniodes) and the Florida Rapanea (Rapanea punctata).

Plants in the Myrsine family have few economic uses. A few genera, such as Ardisia, Cyclamen, Lysimachia, and Myrsine are grown as ornamental plants, especially Ardisia crispa and Myrsine africana. One species, Ardisia japonica (Chinese: 紫金牛; pinyin: zǐjīn niú) is one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.



The following genera, traditionally categorized in Primulaceae s.l., should, according to Källersjö et al (2000), belong to the clade of Myrsinaceae s. lat. : Anagallis, Ardisiandra, Asterolinon , Coris, Cyclamen, Glaux , Lysimachia, Pelletiera and Trientalis .


  • Källersjö, M., G. Bergqvist & A. A. Anderberg (2000). "Generic realignment in primuloid families of the Ericales s. l.: a phylogenetic analysis based on DNA sequences from three chloroplast genes and morphology". Amer. J. Bot. 87 1325–1341.
  • Ulrika Manns and Arne A. Anderberg (2005). "Molecular Phylogeny of Anagallis (Myrsinaceae) Based on ITS, trnL-F, and ndhF Sequence Data". International Journal of Plant Sciences 166 1019–1028.
  • Arne A. Anderberg, Bertil Stahl, Mari Kallersjo (2000). "Maesaceae, a New Primuloid Family in the Order Ericales s.l". Taxon 49 (2): 183–187.

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