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Inflorescences and infructescences of Menispermaceae are usually determinate; axillary, or borne on defoliate branches (ramiflorous) or old wood (cauliflorous), rarely terminal; solitary or fasciculate; occur most often in racemes, cymes, or thyrses, sometimes in panicles or cymose heads, rarely reduced to solitary flowers (Forman, 1986, 1991; Kessler, 1993; Luo et al., 2008).

The present study focuses on Menispermaceae fruit characters, particularly on the highly variable endocarps that are so valuable in identifying extant and fossil specimens and in determining phylogenetic relationships.

Careful description and hence accurate identification of fossil fruits enables more precise calibrations of molecular dating in phylogenetic studies and provides insight as to the composition and structural complexity of paleo-forests (Herrera et al., 2011).

The most speciose genera include Miers (25–35 spp.; Gentry, 1993; Kessler, 1993; Mabberley, 1997; Judd et al., 2002; Forman, 2007; Luo et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2012). Endocarps of 116 species were surveyed by Jacques (2009b).

For general descriptions of the family and its characteristics, see Thanikaimoni (1984, 1986), Forman (1986; restricted to Malesian taxa, but broadly relevant in the family), Kessler (1993), Ortiz et al. Recent studies of infrafamilial relationships using molecular data (Ortiz et al., 2007; Wang et al., 2007b, 2012; Hoot et al., 2009; Jacques et al., 2011) have resulted in important changes to the previous classifications of Diels (1910) and Kessler (1993).

• Three chloroplast regions were used to derive phylogenies for 53 genera and 60 species.

Endocarps of 47 genera and 92 species were dissected and morphological characters scored. We superimposed our morphological matrix onto the phylogeny to explore character evolution.

As we conceive it, the condyle is the result of an enlarged and protruding placenta or ovary wall (Miers, 1864, 1871), driving the locule to the dorsal and sometimes lateral portions of the endocarp, manifested in the mature fruit as a ventral intrusion (or pair of intrusions) of the endocarp wall into the locule, excluding the seed coat (Dekker, 1983).