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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Amaranthaceae s.l.
Cladus: Chenopodiaceae s.str.
Subfamilia: Salicornioideae
Tribus: Salicornieae
Genus: Heterostachys

Species: H. olivascens – H. ritteriana

Names in synonymy: for Spirostachys: S. olivascens – S. ritteriana


Heterostachys Ung.-Sternb., Atti Congr. Bot. Firenze 1874: 331, 273. (1876), nom. nov.

Type species: Heterostachys ritteriana (Moq.) Ung.-Sternb.


Replaced synonym
Spirostachys Ung.-Sternb., Vers. Syst. Salicorn. 100. (1866), nom. illeg. (later homonym of Spirostachys Sond. 1850)
Type species: Spirostachys ritteriana (Moq.) Ung.-Sternb.

Native distribution areas:

Southern America
Dominican Republic, Haiti
Northern South America
Western South America
Southern South America
Argentina, Paraguay

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Ungern-Sternberg, F. 1866. Versuch einer Systematik der Salicornieen. Inaug. Dissertation, Dorpat: Karow. (online) Reference page. : 100.
Ungern-Sternberg, F. 1876. Salicorniearum Synopsis. Atti del Congresso internazionale botanico tenuto in Firenze nel mese di maggio 1874: 259–343. Hathitrust Reference page. : 267, 268, 331.

Additional references

Kadereit, G., Mucina, L. & Freitag, H. 2006: Phylogeny of Salicornioideae (Chenopodiaceae): Diversification, Biogeography, and Evolutionary Trends in Leaf and Flower Morphology. Taxon 55(3): 617–642. DOI: 10.2307/25065639.Reference page.


Hassler, M. 2019. Heterostachys. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2019. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 Jan. 03. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2016. Heterostachys. Published online. Accessed: Jul. 08 2016.
The Plant List 2013. Heterostachys in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2016 Jul. 08. 2016. Heterostachys. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 08 Jul. 2016.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2019. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Heterostachys. .

Heterostachys is a genus of flowering plants in the plant family Amaranthaceae. The two species are shrubby halophytes native to South America and Central America.


The species of Heterostachys grow as subshrubs or low shrubs. The stems are much branched, glabrous, and not jointed. The alternate leaves are fleshy, glabrous, scale-like, stem-clasping, with very short free blades (1–2 mm).[1]

The inflorescences are orbicular to cone-like, with alternate to nearly opposite scale-like bracts, and with one free flower sitting in the axil of each bract. The flowers are bisexual. The four-lobed perianth consists of four half-connate unequal tepals. There are two stamens and an ovary with two stigmas.[1]

In fruit the perianth becomes thick and spongy. The fruit wall (pericarp) is membranous. The seed is lenticular to edge-shaped with tuberculate surface. It contains a semi-annular embryo and copious perisperm (feeding tissue).[1]
Distribution and habitat

Heterostachys is distributed in South America and Central America (Hispaniola).[1][2] The plants are halophytes and grow in coastal lagoons and salty inland habitats.[1]

The genus Heterostachys was first published in 1876 by Franz Ungern-Sternberg.[3] With this description, he replaced the invalid name Spirostachys Ung.-Sternb. from 1866,[4] (which is illegitimate, as Spirostachys Sond. already existed since 1850). The type species is Heterostachys ritteriana.[5]

The genus comprises two species:[1]

Heterostachys olivascens (Speg.) Molfino - endemic to Argentina (Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Río Negro), at 0–500 m above sea level.[6]
Heterostachys ritteriana (Moq.) Ung.-Sternb. - widely distributed in South America and Central America: Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Peru, Haiti, Dominican Republic.[7][2]

Heterostachys is closely related to the genus Allenrolfea, which also is distributed in America. Their common lineage seems to have evolved early in the evolution of the subfamily Salicornioideae, dating back to the Early to Middle Oligocene. It might have reached America long before the other American taxa of Salicornioideae.[1]


Gudrun Kadereit, Ladislav Mucina & Helmut Freitag: Phylogeny of Salicornioideae (Chenopodiaceae): diversification, biogeography, and evolutionary trends in leaf and flower morphology, In: Taxon, Volume 55 (3), 2006, p. 623, 624, 632.
Tropicos, specimen list for Heterostachys ritteriana (Moq.) Ung.-Sternb.
Franz Ungern-Sternberg: Salicorniearum Synopsis. In: Atti del congresso internazionale botanico tenuto in Firenze nel mese di maggio 1874, 1876, p. 331. first publication of Heterostachys
Franz Ungern-Sternberg: Versuch einer Systematik der Salicornieen, Inaug. Diss., Dorpat: Karow., 1866, p. 100. first publication of Spirostachys Ung.-Sternb..
"Heterostachys". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden.
F.O. Zuloaga, O. Morrone, M.J. Belgrano, C. Marticorena, E. Marchesi. (Hrsg.) 2008. Catálogo de las plantas vasculares del Cono Sur. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 107(1–3): i–xcvi, 1–3348. Heterostachys olivascens.
F.O. Zuloaga, O. Morrone, M.J. Belgrano, C. Marticorena, E. Marchesi. (Hrsg.) 2008. Catálogo de las plantas vasculares del Cono Sur. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 107(1–3): i–xcvi, 1–3348. Heterostachys ritteriana.

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