Widespread, mainly neotropical with Samolus cosmopolitan.
Genera 7, species ca. 100 (3 genera, 6 species in the flora).
Theophrastaceae are of little economic importance; some species of Jacquinia are used to make tropical fish poisons; fruits of the tropical Clavija Ruiz & Pavón are edible. All genera apparently are pollinated by insects (bees, flies, midges), with nectar and pollen as rewards (B. Ståhl and M. Källersjö 2004).
Theophrastaceae are closely related to Myrsinaceae (often included by some in the latter) and Primulaceae, and are considered less advanced than either. Samolus had been included in Primulaceae; the semi-inferior ovary, along with staminodal anatomy and mostly Southern Hemisphere distribution, made it an anomaly in that family. M. Källersjö et al. (2000) have shown that Samolus is a sister taxon to Theophrastaceae and should be included in that family (as done here) or placed in a monotypic Samolaceae (B. Ståhl & Källersjö 2004). See further discussion under Primulaceae.
|1||Perennial herbs; fruits capsular.||Samolus|
|1||Shrubs or trees; fruits baccate||> 2|
|2||Young branches puberulous, hairs relatively short, uniseriate; corollas yellow or orange; seeds flattened, partially covered by placental tissue.||Bonellia|
|2||Young branches lepidote, hairs irregularly branched, thick-walled; corollas white or cream; seeds subglobose, completely covered by placental tissue||Jacquinia|