sterculia (stərkyōˈlēə) [key], common name for some members of the Sterculiaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees of tropical and subtropical regions. The most important members of the family are the cacao, source of cocoa and chocolate, and the cola, the caffeine-rich seeds of which are used commercially in soft drinks and medicines. Karaya, or Indian gum, from S. urens, is an inexpensive substitute for tragacanth. The family also includes several species cultivated as ornamentals, e.g., the flannel bush in the United States, the kurrajong in Australia, and the Chinese parasol tree. Sterculia is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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