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Shrubs or climbers with swollen nodes, often glandular and aromatic. Leaves alternate, usually palmate, often oblique, entire. Flowers minute, unisexual, spiked, each in the axil of a bract with or without lateral bracteoles, bracts peltate. Perianth absent. Male flowers: stamens 1-4, filaments short, anthers 2-loculed. Female flowers: ovary unilocular, styles conic, beaked or absent, stigmas 2-5. Fruit a drupe, ovoid or globose, sessile or shortly stalked. Seeds usually globose.

Key to the species

Serial Key Reference
1a. Infructescences globose or nearly so, never more than twice as long as wide P. mullesua
1b. Inflorescences cylindric, more than thrice as long as wide 2
2a. Perennial herbs, prostrate or ascending P. longum
2b. Twining or woody climbers or shrubs 3
3a. Stamens never more than 2 4
3b. Stamens more than 2 6
4a. Twining climbers; female spikes densely pubescent P. betle
4b. Climbing shrubs; female spikes glabrous 5
5a. Petiole short; female spike upto 18 cm long P. sylvestre
5b. Petiole long; female spike upto 20-30 cm long P. rhytidocarpum
6a. Woody climbers; inflorescence on plagiotropic branches; leaves densely glandular-dotted beneath P. nigrum
6b. Climbing shrubs; inflorescence not on plagiotropic branches; leaves without glandular-dotted beneath 7
7a. Leaves auricled; stamens sessile P. boehmeriaefolium
7b. Leaves not auricled; stamens short-stalked 8
8a. Leaves strongly prominently 5-veined at the base P. peepuloides
8b. Leaves not strongly prominently veined at the base 9
9a. Bracts peltate 10
9b. Bracts not peltate, broadly ovate P. brachyrachis
10a. Leaves broadly ovate-lanceolate; flowers yellow; stamens 4 P. sylvaticum
10b. Leaves elliptic; flowers white; stamens 3 P. hamiltonii