Herbs with opposite leaves, rarely alternate, each pair at right
angles to those above and below; occasionally with membranous
stipules. Flowers regular, generally hermaphrodite; sepals 4-5,
free or fused together; petals 4-5, free, clawed or not, sometimes
absent; stamens often 8-10, sometimes fewer; stigmas 2-5. Fruit a
capsule, splitting with as many twice as many teeth as styles. A
large family, primarily from temperature regions of the world.
(BUTTERCUP FAMILY): A large, mainly temperate, family of
herbaceous plants - except Clematis, which is woody. Leaves
usually alternate (opposite in Clematis), often divided
(dissected). Flowers often large and showy with 5, sometimes more,
sepals or petals or both; nectaries or nectariferous 'petals'
often present; stamens numerous. Fruit a collection of achenes or
follicles. Many of the species contain alkaloids and can be
extremely poisonous both to humans and animals.
(POPPY FAMILY): Annuals or perennials, often with milky or colored
(yellowish) juice when cut. Leaves 1-2-pinnate. Flowers solitary
or in lax clusters; sepals 2, deciduous, falling as the flowers
open; petals 4, separate, often crumpled-looking. Stamens usually
numerous but only 4 in Hypecoum. Fruit a capsule (pod) with
pores at the top, or splitting lengthwise into 2-4 valves.
(CRESS FAMILY): Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves usually
alternate. Flowers usually in racemes, very distinctive with 4
separate sepals and 4 separate petals, arranged crosswise; stamens
6. Fruit a 2-parted capsule (pod), either long and thin (siliqua)
or broad and short, variously shaped (silicula). Fruit shape is
very important in identification.
(ROSE FAMILY): A large and diverse family of trees, shrubs and
herbs, with a worldwide distribution.
Leaves alternate, simple or compound, often pinnate or palmate; stipules present.
Flowers terminal, solitary or in racemes, cymes or panicles, often
5-parted, but generally with numerous stamens and few to many
carpels; receptacle generally hollowed, but very variable, often
with all the flower organs (except the carpels) attached to the
rim. Fruit extremely variable (including the apple,
blackberry, quince, hip and haw) from a capsule, to a collection
of achenes, a drupe (plum and chery) or a pome (apple and pear).
(PEA FAMILY): A large family in the mediterranean region and
generally very distinctive. Trees or herbs with trifoliate or
pinnate leaves; occasionally with spines or tendrils. Flowers
5-petalled, most pea-shaped; upper petal (standard) often broad
and erect, overlapping the lateral two (wings) which lie on each
side of the lower two united petals (keel), which conceal the 10
stamens and style; sepals tube with 5 short or long teeth. Fruit a
pod, very variable, often splitting
lengthwise into two when ripe, sometimes coiled or splitting into short
(SPURGE FAMILY): A very large family distributed throughout the
world and containing herbs, shrubs, trees, lianas. there are in
excess of 7000 species, 1600 in Euphorbia alone.
(SPURGES): Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs with milky latex
when cut. Flowers in umbrel-like clusters, each stalk (ray) of the
umbel bearing bracts (often yellowish), with one or several
flower-clusters. Male and female flowers separate, but in discrete
groups (cyathia), with several male and a solitary female set in a
cup-shaped involucre, with glistening, kidney-shaped glands, the
male flowers with a single stamen, the female with an ovary and 3
styles. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule.
(MALLOW FAMILY): Herbs or shrubs, often with stellate (star-shapped)
hairs; stipules present. Leaves alternate, usually palmately-lobed.
Flowers regular, hermaphrodite; sepals and petals 5, separate;
epicalyx often present; stamens many, fused together into a column
surrounding the 5-lobed style. Fruit with a ring of closely packed
nutlets (mericarps) or a capsule.
(CARROT FAMILY): A large family of annual,
biennial or perennial herbs, occasionally shrubs, with alternate
leaves. Leaves often large and 2-4 pinnately divided, sometimes
simple, often with inflated, sheathing bases. Flowers borne in
distinctive umbels, generally compound, the primary umbel with or
without bracts, its main branches (rays) supporting secondary
umbels with or without secondary bracts (bracteoles). Flowers
often rather small, 5-parted and usually hermaphrodite; calyx with
5 teeth, usually inconspicuous, sometimes absent; petals separate,
often notched and with an incurved tip, all the same size or
markedly uneven so that the outer flowers in an umbel may have its
outer petals considerably enlarged (radiate). Carpels 2, joined
along a central axis, each terminating in a style, flattened or
rounded in section, often ribbed or winged and with resin canals (vittae)
between the primary ridges, Fruit two-parted, each pressed close together, parting
when mature; flowers and fruit can often be found on the plant at
the same time.
(BORAGE FAMILY): Herbs or small shrubs, often with bristly stems
and leaves, the bristles often with swollen bases. Leaves simple
and alternate. Flowers in spiralled clusters (scorpioid cymes) ,
short-stalked, 5-parted; corolla funnel-shaped or constricted at
the mouth; stamens 5, joined to the corolla. Fruit consisting of
4, occasionally fewer, nutlets, often ornamented and hidden within
the persistent calyx.
(MINT FAMILY): Herbs or shrubs, often aromatic from numerous
glands; stems square. Leaves opposite, usually simple. Flowers
irregular (zygomorphic), in distinct lateral clusters (verticillasters)
which often form whorls around the stem; calyx with 5 teeth,
sometimes 2-lipped; corolla 2-lipped, except in Ajuga and Teucrium,
the lower lip 3-lobed and the upper 2. Stamens 4 (2 in Salvia).
Fruit consisting of 4 nutlets hidden at the base of the persistent
(FIGWORT FAMILY): Herbs, rarely shrubs or trees. Leaves opposite
or alternate. Stem square or round. Flowers irregular (zygomorphic),
in spikes or racemes, sometimes solitary; bracts usually present;
calyx 4-5 lobed (petals fused near
the base or into a distinct tube), occasionally 2-lipped; corolla
5-lobed, or clearly 2-lipped; stamens 2, 4 or 5. Fruit a capsule,
(BELLFLOWER FAMILY): Annual or perennial herbs, usually with white
latex when cut. Leaves generally alternate. Flowers often large
and showy, borne in heads, racemes or panicles, occasionally
solitary; calyx with 5 teeth (sepals fused together at the base);
corolla frequently bell- or saucer-shaped, shallowly to deeply
lobed, with a short or long tube; stamens 5, fused or free; style
solitary. Fruit a capsule, dehiscing by slits or pores.
(DAISY FAMILY): Herbs or shrubs with alternate, opposite or
rosetted leaves. Flower-heads with an involucre of closely
overlapping bracts (flower-bracts) around the base, sometimes
spine-tipped. Flowers (florets) small, , borne in congested heads
(capitula), often with receptacle scales at the base of each
floret. Florets variable, all the same in the flowerhead or those
in the center (the disk) different from the outer (rays), giving
the typical daisy flowerhead; three main types occur - tubular and
4-5-toothed, tubular and 2-lipped, and ligulate with a one-sided,
strap-like appendage (ray). Stamens 5, fused together around the
style. Ovary inferior. Fruit a single-seeded achene, often with a
feathery or a hairy appendage (pappus) attached at one end.
(LILY FAMILY): A large family of perennial herbs, often with
bulbous, tuberous or rhizomatous stock. Leaves often linear or
lanceolate, untoothed and with parallel veins, occasionally
heart-shaped. Perianth generally 6-parted, often all similar and
petal-like (tepals), separate or fused; stamens usually 6; style
1, occasionally 3. Fruit a 3-parted capsule or a berry.( The
family has recently been divided into more than twenty distinct
families; this has not been followed here so as to allow for
consistency with standard floras and reference-books on the area
(DAFFODIL FAMILY): A family of bulbous perennials with scapes
(leafless stems). Leaves basal, linear to strap-shaped, generally
rather fleshy, with parallel veins, untoothed, often only partly
developed at flowering time.. Flowers solitary or clustered in an
umbel. subtended by one or several 'bract-like' spathes which
cover and protect the flowers in bud; tepals 6, usually all
petal-like, arising, like the other flower parts, from the top of
the ovary, which is inferior; stamens 6. Fruit a 3-parted capsule.
(IRIS FAMILY): A family of bulbous, tuberous or rhizomatous
perennials, often with narrow, linear or sword-shaped leaves, all
basal or alternate with parallel veins, untoothed. Flowers 3
parted, generally enclosed in one or two spathes in bud; tepals 6,
often petal-like, all similar (as in Crocus) or three
different (as in Iris); stamens 3; styles 3 or 3-lobed, or
variously divided. Ovary inferior. Fruit a 3-parted capsule.
(ORCHID FAMILY): A very large family found in many parts of the
world. Many of the tropical species are epiphytic, growing on
the trunks and branches of trees. Med species are all terrestial
and the following description applies to them. Tuberous or
rhizomatous perennials with alternate (spirally arranged) leaves,
often aggregated towards the base of the plant into a loose
rosette; the upper leaves may be similar to the lower or sheath-
or bract-like; some species may be saprophytic with scale-like
leaves without green pigment (chlorophyll). Flowers solitary or in
a spike or raceme, sometimes congested into a distinct head, which
often elongates in fruit; sepals 3, green or colored, often
similar to the petals, sometimes larger; petals 3, the lower one
modified into a distinctive lip or labellum, often lobed or
ridged, sometimes extended behind into a nectar-containing spur;
stamens generally 2, fused to the stigma into a column, the pollen
aggregated into detachable masses or pollinia; ovary inferior,
located behind all the other flower parts, stalked or not. Fruit a
3-parted capsule containing many minute seeds. In most orchids the
flower twist through 180o at a very early stage so that the flower
as seen with the lip at trhe bottom is actually upside down (resupination).