Open main menu

Breynia is a plant genus in the family Phyllanthaceae, first described as a genus in 1776. It is native to Southeast Asia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Papuasia, Australia, and the island of Réunion.[1]

Starr 030612-0047 Breynia disticha.jpg
Breynia disticha
Scientific classification


The name Breynia is a conserved name, in other words, it is recognized despite the existence of an earlier use of the same name to refer to a different plant. Breynia L. 1753 is in the Capparaceae, but it is a rejected name. We here discuss Breynia J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. 1776.[2]

Breynia are of note in the fields of pollination biology and coevolution because they have a specialized mutualism with moths in the genus Epicephala (leafflower moths), in which the moths actively pollinate the flowers—thereby ensuring that the tree may produce viable seeds—but also lay eggs in the flowers' ovaries or in the space between the tepals and the carpel walls, from where their larvae consume a subset of the developing seeds as nourishment.[3][4] Other species of Epicephala are pollinators, and in some cases, non-pollinating seed predators, of certain species of plants in the genera Phyllanthus[5][6] and Glochidion,[7][8][9] both closely related to Breynia.[10] This relationship is similar to those between figs and fig wasps and yuccas and yucca moths.

Formerly included

Breynia subterblanca (C.E.C.Fisch.) C.E.C.Fisch, synonym of Sauropus subterblancus (C.E.C.Fisch.) Welzen[11]


  1. ^ a b c "World Checklist of Selected Plant Species".
  2. ^ Govaerts, R., Frodin, D.G. & Radcliffe-Smith, A. (2000). World Checklist and Bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (and Pandaceae) 1-4: 1-1622. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. 2004. Obligate pollination mutualism in Breynia (Phyllanthaceae): further documentation of pollination mutualism involving Epicephala moths (Gracillariidae). American Journal of Botany. 91: 1319–1325.
  4. ^ Zhang, J.; Wang, S.; Li, H.; Hu, B.; Yang, X.; Wang, Z. 2012. "Diffuse coevolution between two Epicephala species (Gracillariidae) and two Breynia species (Phyllanthaceae). PLOS ONE. 7: e41657.
  5. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. 2004. "Evolution of obligate pollination mutualism in New Caledonian Phyllanthus (Euphorbiaceae)." American Journal of Botany 91: 410–415.
  6. ^ Kawakita, A.; Kato, M. 2009. "Repeated independent evolution of obligate pollination mutualism in the Phyllantheae-Epicephala association." Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 276: 417–426.
  7. ^ Kato, M.; Takimura, A.; Kawakita, A. (2003) "An obligate pollination mutualism and reciprocal diversification in the tree genus Glochidion (Euphorbiaceae)." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 100 (9): 5264–5267
  8. ^ Hembry, D. H.; Okamoto, T.; Gillespie, R. G. (2012) Repeated colonization of remote islands by specialized mutualists. Biology Letters. 8: 258–261.
  9. ^ Luo, S.-X.; Yao, G.; Wang, Z.; Zhang, D.; Hembry, D. H. (2017) "A novel, enigmatic basal leafflower moth lineage pollinating a derived leafflower host illustrates the dynamics of host shifts, partner replacement, and apparent co-adaptation in intimate mutualisms." The American Naturalist. 189: 422–435.
  10. ^ Kathriarachchi, H.; Samuel, R.; Hoffmann, P.; Mlinarec, J.; Wurdack, K. J.; Ralimanana, H.; Stuessy, T. F.; Chase, M. W. 2006. "Phylogenetics of tribe Phyllantheae (Phyllanthaceae: Euphorbiaceae sensu lato) based on nrITS and plastid matK DNA sequence data." American Journal of Botany. 93: 637–655.
  11. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Breynia subterblanca