Theaceae sp. Fossil, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Theaceae Mirb. ex Ker Gawl., Ker Gawl. in Bot. Reg. 2: ad t. 112. 1816, nom. cons.
* Camelliaceae Mirb. in A.P. de Candolle, Essai Propr. Méd. Pl., ed. 2: 978. 11 1816
Excluded or synonymous taxa
* Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Vascular Plant Families and Genera List of genera in family Theaceae (includes Pentaphylacaceae within Theaceae)
The Theaceae is a family of flowering plants, composed of shrubs and trees. Some botanists include the family Ternstroemiaceae within the Theaceae while others do not. Theaceae can be described as having anywhere from 7-40 genera, depending on the source and the method of circumscription used.
Plants in this family are characterized by simple leaves that are alternate spiral to distichial, serrated, and usually glossy. Most of the genera have evergreen foliage, but Stewartia and Franklinia are deciduous. The toothed margins are generally associated with a characteristic Theoid leaf tooth, which is crowned by a glandular, deciduous tip. The flowers in this family are usually pink or white and large and showy, often with a strong scent.  The calyx consists of five or more sepals, which are often persistent in the fruiting stage, and the corolla is five-merous, rarely numerous. Plants in Theaceae are multistaminate, usually with 20-100+ stamen either free or adnate to the base of the corolla, and are also distinctive because of the presence of pseudopollen. The pseudopollen is produced from connective cells, and has either rib-like or circular thickenings. The ovary is often hairy and narrows gradually into the style, which may be branched or cleft. The carpels are typically opposite from the petals, or the sepals in the case of Camellia. The fruits are loculicidal capsules, indehiscent baccate fruits or sometimes pomes. The seeds are few and sometimes winged, or in some generas covered by fleshy tissue or unwinged and nude. 3,4
Eleven genera are found only in east Asia (Malesia north to Japan), with several genera in Central and South America. Three genera are found only in Africa, and two genera are only found in the Neotropics.4 Three genera (Franklinia, Gordonia and Stewartia) also have species native to the southeastern United States, with Franklinia being endemic there, and under recent interpretations, also Gordonia with the Asian species formerly included in that genus being transferred to Polyspora. There are five genera with very restricted distributions. These include Apterosperma and Euryodendron found in Southern China, Archboldiodendron found in New Guinea, Dankia found in Vietnam, and Visnea in the Canary Islands and Madeira. 4
The best known genus is Camellia, which includes the plant whose leaves are used to produce tea (Camellia sinensis). In parts of Asia, other species are used as a beverage, including C. taliensis, C. gradnibractiata, C. kwangsiensis, C. gymnogyna, C. crassicolumna, C. tachangensis, C. ptilophyllaand, and C. irrawadiensis.  Several species grown widely as ornamentals for their flowers and handsome foliage.
1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) entry for Camelliaceae
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License