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Herbs, stems usually slender below with erect or sub-erect slender branches. Leaves subsessile, ovate, lanceolate or linear with lax sheaths. Flowers usually in leaf-opposed 2-fid cymes emerging from a complicated, funnel-shaped or hooded, spathaceous bract. Sepals often connate at base. Petal longer than sepals, one of the petals longer than the other two and often clawed. Perfect stamens 3 with 2-3 staminodes, anthers of tone the fertile one being usually the largest. Carpels 3, one sometimes abortive, ovary 3-celled, rarely 2, ovules 1-2 in each cell, the third cell if present 1-ovuled or empty. Fruit a capsule, hidden in the spathe. Seeds elliptic or angular, testa smooth, reticulate, pitted or rugose.

Key to the species

Serial Key Reference
1a. Spathes almost funnel-shaped 2
1b. Spathes complicate 4
2a. Leaves ovate, elliptic-ovate or broadly ovate; seeds mostly truncate at one end, more or less transversely rugose Commelina benghalensis
2b. Leaves lanceolate; seeds not truncate, smooth 3
3a. Mature capsule 3-valved, each seed being free in each cell Commelina paludosa
3b. Mature capsule only 2-valved, the dorsal cell being indehiscent with its being adnate to the cell Commelina erecta
4a. Seeds reticulate or rugose-foveate 5
4b. Seeds smooth or rarely faintly pitted 6
5a. Seeds oblong-pyramidal, deeply rugose-foveate, often puberulous Commelina sikkimensis
5b. Seeds cylindric, more or less rounded at both ends, reticulate, glabrous Commelina diffusa
6a. Spathes 3 – 5 cm long; seeds appendiculate at one end Commelina longifolia
6b. Spathes 0.5 – 2.5 cm long; seeds not appendiculate Commelina hasskarlii