Floral development of three Maesa Forssk, species, M, argentea Wall., M. japonica (Thunb.) Moritzi ex Zoll. and M. perlarius (Lour.) Merr., was studied with a scanning electron microscope. The distinctive floral features of the genus, such as presence of two persistent bracteoles, perigynous flowers and many-seeded fruits, have been used to discuss the systematic position of the genus within Primulales. In addition, the development of common stamen-petal primordia, the number, arrangement and position of ovules and the shape of the anthers provide evidence in favour of piecing Maesa in a separate family, Maesaceae, as suggested by Anderberg and Stahl (Canadian Journal of Botany, 73: 1699-1730, 1995). (C) 2000 Annals of Botany Company.