Distribution of Commelinaceae:
Commelinaceae includes about 50 genera and 700 species. In India it is represented by 11 genera and 75 species.
Economic Importance of Commelinaceae:
- Food: Leaves of Commelina are edible and fried with gram flour as Pakoras. The rhizomes of Commelina benghalensis are used as vegetable.
- Medicinal: The roots of Commelina obliqua are used as antidote to snake poison. The stem juice of Floscopa scandens is put in sore eyes. Many species of Murdannia, Aneilema and Commelina are used in leprosy. The roots of Cyanotis and Tradescantia are used for expelling worms in cattle as also for fever.
- Ornamental: Rhoeo discolor is used as potherb. Tradescantia, Cyanotis, Zebrina pendula (Wandering Jew) are ornamental.
Affinities of Commelinaceae:
According to Bentham and Hooker, the Commelinaceae appeared under the series Coronarieae. Engler, Rendle and Lawrence included it in the Farinosae just after the Spathiflorae. Core placed it in the Farinales, lying between the Arales and Liliales. Hutchinson treated it, together with the Cartonemataceae, Flagellariaceae and Mayaceae, as constituting the Commelinales and connecting the Najadales and Xyridales.
The Commelinaceae is allied to the Pontederiaceae, the points of resemblance being the ligular ochrea-like sheath and mealy endosperm. Furthermore, the floral structure of Spironema, a member of the Commelinaceae, bears similarity with that of Pontederia of the Pontederiaceae. As regards the trimerous flowers and nuclear endosperm, the Commelinaceae is related to the Liliaceae. The semi-aquatic habit and amoeboid tapetum of anthers of the Commelinaceae suggest relationship with the members of the Helobiales. Hutchinson expressed the idea that the Commelinaceae could be derived from both the Alismatales and Butomales.