Text © Giuseppe Mazza
English translation by Ignacio Barrionuevo
Adoxaceae is a small family of flowering plants with about 200 species belonging to the following genera:
Adoxa, Oreinotinus, Sambucus, Sinadoxa, Viburnum.
Before, this family only comprised the genus Adoxa but now it includes also Sambucus and Viburnum that were part of the family Caprifoliaceae.
The new classification comes from molecular phylogeny studies, which also have propitiated the creation of the genus Sinadoxa.
At a glance the Adoxa is a small herbaceous plant with rhizomes, from the understorey of temperate regions, whereas the Sambucus and the Viburnum are tall bushes several meters high with flat terminal inflorescences and small hermaphrodite flowers reunited in compound corymbs.
The fruit is always a drupe.
Many Viburnum are frequently used as ornamental plants, such as in the historical Italian style gardens. Amongst the best known are the Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) and the Laurestine or Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus).
The Sambucus nigra grows over 8 m high, the splendid Sambucus racemosa easily reaches, in the Alps, the altitude of 1.500 m above sea-level and some species, such as the poisonous Sambucus ebulus, are used in traditional medicine.