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A monotypic genus rare in the wild, allied to Tripetaleia, Botryostege, Cladothamnus and Ledum. It resembles these in its free petals but is distinguished by the combination of: deciduous leaves; racemose inflorescence; corollas with four (rarely five) petals. It is named after the botanist Stephen Elliott (1771-1830), who discovered the one species described here.
Elliottia is now considered to comprise four species. Two of these had in fact been transferred to this genus over a century ago from Tripetaleia. This position is now accepted by Brim and Stevens in ‘Generic Limits in the Tribe Cladothamneae …’, Journ. Arn. Arb., Vol. 59, pp. 311-41 (1978). In this paper the monotypic Cladothamnus is also included in Elliottia.
The leading characters of Elliottia are the thin, usually deciduous leaves; hairs when present always unicellular; inflorescence essentially cymose but taking the form of a raceme or panicle (often solitary in E. pyroliflora), not protected by scales in the bud-stage; petals three to five, free, white or pinkish; fruit a many-seeded septicidal capsule.