USEFUL FIELD CHARACTERISTICS

OF REPRESENTATIVE FAMILIES

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         Magnoliaceae
  • trees & shrubs
  • flowers large and showy
  • floral parts numerous, separate, spirally arranged
  • elongate receptacle
 
         Lauraceae
         Lab only Family
  • trees & shrubs
  • leaves simple, alternate, entire, pinnate
  • flowers actinomorphic, parts in 3's
  • valvate anthers opening by 2-4 flaps
  • drupe
 
         Ranunculaceae
  • usually herbs
  • leaves simple and deeply lobed or compound
  • stamens usually many
  • apocarpous gynoecium
 
         Berberidaceae
  • perennial herbs or shrubs
  • leaves simple or pinnately compound
  • floral parts usually in multiples of 3
  • valvate anthers
 
         Betulaceae
  • trees or shrubs
  • leaves simple, alternate
  • monoecious plants
  • pistillate and staminate flowers in separate catkins
  • ovary inferior
  • nut, samara
 
         Fagaceae
  • trees or shrubs
  • leaves simple, alternate
  • monoecious plants
  • pistillate flowers in leaf axils
  • staminate flowers in catkins
  • ovary inferior
  • nut with involucre of bracts
 
         Hamamelidaceae
         Lab only Family
  • trees or shrubs
  • leaves simple, alternate, entire or serrate
  • flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual
  • flower parts in 4's or 5's
  • carpels 2, partially fused; ovary inferior
  • woody capsule
 
         Caryophyllaceae
  • herbs
  • leaves simple, opposite
  • swollen nodes
  • petals entire to deeply lobed, often differentiated into a claw and a limb
  • floral parts in 5's
  • placentation often freecentral
 
         Cactaceae
  • stem succulents
  • areoles
  • flowers showy
  • floral parts numerous
  • ovary inferior
  • placentation usually parietal
 
         Portulacaceae
  • usually herbs
  • 2 to several sepals
  • plants often fleshy
  • leaves simple, opposite or alternate
  • basal placentation
 
         Polygonaceae
  • leaves alternate, with sheathing stipules (ocreas)
  • one floral envelope
  • achene, often winged
 
         Aceraceae
  • trees or shrubs
  • leaves simple, opposite, often palmately lobed
  • carpels 2, connate
  • ovary superior
  • samaroid schizocarp
 
         Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
  • herbs
  • mustard oils
  • 4 sepals, 4 petals, 4 + 2 stamens (tetradynamous) 2 carpels
  • ovary syncarpous
  • silicle or silique
 
         Malvaceae
  • usually herbs or shrubs
  • leaves simple,commonly palmately lobed
  • stellate hairs common
  • mucilage cells
  • stamens monadelphous, or in 5 clusters, each with filaments basally connate
  • capsules (often schizocarpous)
 
         Onagraceae
  • usually herbs
  • 4 sepals, 4 petals, 8 stamens,4 carpels
  • petals often clawed or stipitate
  • ovary inferior
  • usually capsule
 
         Geraniaceae
         Lab only Family
  • herbs
  • leaves usually palmate, simple to compound
  • flowers actinomorphic parts in 5's (including 5 carpels)
  • ovary superior, elongating after pollinatioin
  • schizocarp of 5 segments
 
         Violaceae
  • usually herbs
  • flowers zygomorphic
  • corolla polypetalous, spurred
  • nectar guides
  • stamens connivent
 
         Salicaceae
  • trees or shrubs
  • dioecious plants
  • pistillate and staminate flowers in separate catkins
  • seeds numerous and comose (hairy)
 
         Saxifragaceae
  • usually herbs
  • leaves often basal, often serrate and palmately lobed
  • carpels usually 2-3(6)
  • styles separate
 
         Euphorbiaceae
         Lab only Family
  • herbs or shrubs
  • milky latex
  • reduced flowers
  • carpels 3, connate
  • schizocarpous capsule, forming 3 one-seeded parts
 
         Rosaceae
  • trees, shrubs, or herbs
  • leaves simple or compound; stipulate
  • leaflets with serrate margins
  • hypanthium
  • carpels numerous to 1
  • variation in fruit types
 
         Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
  • trees, shrubs or herbs
  • leaves often compound
  • leaflets with entire margins
  • stamens numerous to 10, diadelphous in papilionaceous flowers
  • carpel 1 (per flower)
  • legume or loment
 
         Ericaceae
  • trees & shrubs
  • leaves opposite or alternate, entire
  • corolla usually sympetalous, frequently urceolate
  • 10 stamens (rarely 5)
  • anthers usually with poricidal dehiscence and often with appendages
 
         Polemoniaceae
  • usually herbs
  • flowers actinomorphic
  • corolla sympetalous, convolute in bud
  • unequal insertion of stamens on corolla
  • carpels 3, connate
  • stigmas separate (3)
  • ovary superior
 
         Cornaceae
         Lab only Family
  • trees or shrubs
  • leaves simple, opposite, veins arcing from base to tip
  • inflorescence often subtended by showy bracts
  • flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual
  • flower parts usually in 4's
  • ovary inferior
  • drupe
 
         Boraginaceae
  • herbs
  • plants often hairy
  • leaves alternate
  • scorpioid or helicoid cymes
  • flowers actinomorphic
  • corolla sympetalous
  • style gynobasic, or terminal and bifid
  • if style terminal and bifid, then stamens usually exserted
  • ovary superior, 4-lobed (when gynobasic), or unilocular
  • 4 nutlets (when gynobasic), or capsule
 
         Solanaceae
  • usually herbs, shrubs, or vines
  • plants often densely pubescent
  • leaves simple, alternate, commonly lobed
  • flowers actinomorphic, sympetalous
  • 2 carpels, capitate stigma
  • ovary superior
 
         Apocynaceae
         Lab only Family
  • trees, shrubs, vines, herbs
  • milky latex
  • leaves opposite or whorled
  • flowers actinomorphic
  • gynostegium, pollinia, corona (Asclepiadaceae)
  • ovary superior; 2 carpels united at styles only
  • paired follicles
 
         Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
  • aromatic herbs
  • square stems
  • leaves opposite or whorled
  • flowers zygomorphic
  • corolla sympetalous, bilabiate
  • didynamous stamens
  • gynobasic style (usually)
  • ovary superior; carpels 2, fused; 2 ovules/carpel
  • 4 nutlets (usually)
 
         Scrophulariaceae s.l.
  • usually herbs
  • flowers zygomorphic
  • corolla sympetalous, bilabiate
  • didynamous stamens usually present
  • ovary superior; carpels 2, fused; ovules numerous
  • capsule or berry
 
         Oleaceae
         Lab only Family
  • trees & shrubs
  • leaves opposite, simple or compound, pinnate
  • flowers actinomorphic, bisexual, 4-parted
  • stamens & carpels 2
  • samara, berry, drupe
 
         Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
  • mostly perennial herbs
  • leaves compound, dissected, with sheathing base
  • tissues containing secretory canals
  • umbels
  • carpels 2, connate
  • ovary inferior
  • schizocarp
 
         Caprifoliaceae (including Valerianaceae and Dipsacaceae)
  • herbs, shrubs, small trees, or lianas
  • leaves opposite, simple
  • flowers zygomorphic
  • petals 5, connate with 2 upper and 3 lower lobes, or 4 upper and 1 lower lobe; sometimes spurred
  • 2-5 fused carpels
  • ovary inferior; style elongate, stigma capitate
  • nectar producing glandular hairs on inner surface of corolla tube
  • berry, capsule, or drupe
 
         Adoxaceae (including Viburnum and Sambucus formerly Caprifoliaceae)
         Lab only Family
  • small trees, shrubs, or perennial herbs
  • leaves opposite, simple to compound
  • flowers actinomorphic
  • corolla sympetalous with short tube
  • stamens 5, epipetalous
  • ovary inferior; style short; stigma lobed
  • drupe with 1-5 pits
 
         Asteraceae (Compositae)
  • head or capitulum, surrounded by phyllaries
  • disk or disk and ray or ligulate flowers
  • pappus
  • corolla sympetalous
  • anthers syngenesious(connate)
  • ovary inferior
  • achene (cypsela)
 
         Araceae
  • mostly terrestrial herbs
  • watery or milky sap
  • calcium oxalate crystals
  • spathe and spadix
  • flowers often with fetid odor
 
         Bromeliaceae
         Lab only Family
  • mostly tropical herbs, often epiphytic
  • water absorbing peltate scales
  • leaves alternate often forming water 'tanks'
  • flowers actinomorphic, bisexual
  • flower parts in 3's (stamens 6)
  • ovary superior to inferior
  • capsule or berry
 
         Liliaceae 
  • usually herbs, often scapose
  • stems often modified as rhizomes, bulbs or corms
  • flowers actinomorphic
  • perianth usually undifferentiated
  • 6 tepals (or 3 sepals and 3 petals), 6 stamens, 3 carpels
  • ovary superior or inferior
  • capsule or berry
 
         Iridaceae 
  • herbs
  • flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic
  • perianth undifferentiated or differentiated
  • 6 tepals (or 3 sepals and 3 petals), 3 stamens, 3 carpels
  • styles sometimes winged and petaloid
  • ovary inferior
  • capsule
 
         Orchidaceae
  • terrestrial or epiphytic herbs
  • strongly mycotrophic
  • flowers zygomorphic
  • 3 sepals, 3 petals, 12 stamens, 3 carpels
  • labellum, column, pollinia
  • ovary inferior
  • capsule
 
         Typhaceae
  • herbs
  • monoecious
  • staminate spikes above pistillate spikes
  • perianth of bristles
 
         Juncaceae
  • herbs with round, usually solid stems
  • leaves basal, 3ranked, with open or closed sheaths
  • tepals 6
  • stamens 3 or 6; carpels 3, connate
  • capsule
 
         Cyperaceae
  • herbs
  • stems typically triangular,sometimes round
  • leaves basal or cauline, 3-ranked, with closed sheaths
  • inflorescence a spikelet
  • perianth of bristles or absent
  • achene
 
         Poaceae (Gramineae)
  • herbs with round, usually hollow stems
  • leaves basal or cauline, 2ranked, usually with open sheaths
  • ligule between leaf sheath and leaf blade
  • inflorescence a spikelet with 1 to many florets
  • glumes, lemmas, paleas, lodicules
  • caryopsis (grain)
 
         Arecaceae (Palmae)
         Lab only Family
  • trees or shrubs with unbranched stems
  • leaves crowded at stem tip to form crown, pinnately or palmately compound
  • flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual, 3parted
  • drupe