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The genus (of which this is the only known species) commemorates Francis Clifton, F.R.S., a physician and friend of Sir Hans Sloane. He died in Jamaica in 1736. It belongs to a small family of which the only other species cultivated out-of-doors in the British Isles is Cyrilla racemiflora, also the only species of its genus. This is easily distinguished by its five stamens to each flower and axillary racemes. The family Cyrillaceae is allied to the Holly family (Aquifoliaceae), from which it differs in the racemose inflorescence and dry fruit.