What are plant families?
The plants we know today originally arose from a few forms. Therefore, many plant species are related to each other, i.e. they have a genetic similarity and share common characteristics. Genera are closely related plants and families are related genera. About 60 different plant families are counted, with some being more important to humans than others. For example, the plant families that are grown for food production or as ornamentals. Just because plants look alike doesn't mean they belong to the same family. Because not only genetics can influence the external characteristics of a plant, but also the external environment.
Which plant families are the most important?
Orchid family / Orchidaceae
The orchid family is the largest family of flowering plants with around 25,000 species and 880 genera. Plants belonging to this family are mainly native to the tropics. The plants often grow on tree trunks and thus have corresponding characteristics, such as thick, leathery leaves. The roots are adapted to absorbing water from the air by condensing water, and when the roots come in contact with the host tree, then it can function like a normal root, developing root hairs and absorbing nutrients. The pollinators of the orchid family are specialized in these plants and the germination of seeds also requires a specific fungus. Well-known plants of this plant family are vanilla, moth orchids and orchids.
daisy family / Asteraceae
The daisy family is one of the largest family of vascular plants with about 32,000 species with 1900 genera. The plants are distributed worldwide and vary from climbing plants, trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants to herbs. The generally green leaves are alternate and spiral-shaped. The flowers in this plant family have a special type of inflorescence, which consists of many individual flowers. Lettuce, chamomile, daisies and sunflowers are well known from this family.
Legumes / Fabaceae
The legumes are the third largest family of flowering plants and contain about 19,500 species and 7,500 genera . Plants of this family can be found all over the world and are important forage plants as well as vegetable protein suppliers. The roots of legumes often harbor bacteria called rhizobia in their root nodules. These can bind nitrogen from the air. Leaves are alternate and compound, often even or odd pinnate with stipules. The pods differ from the pod of cruciferous plants because they consist of a carpel (carpel) without a lamella (septum). Well-known plants from the legume family are lupins, rooibos and soybeans.
Cruciferous / Brassicaceae
The cruciferous plant family includes 3000 species and 350 genera. Plants of this family are mostly found in the northern hemisphere. The name of this family can be derived from the cruciform shape of the flowers. The seeds have a high oil content (30-45%) and are therefore used for food, lamps, soap and rubber substitutes. The plants are not woody. The pods consist of two carpels with a septum. Important plants from the family are radish and mustard.
Rose family / Rosaceae
The rose family includes trees, shrubs and herbs from 3400 species and 300 genera. The plants are distributed worldwide, but are mainly found in the northern hemisphere in temperate climates. The family includes various subfamilies with different positions of the ovary. Strawberries with a superior ovary (hypogynous) belong to Rosoideae. Prunoideae include cherries with central ovary (perigyn). Apples are part of the subfamily Maloideae pomes, which have inferior ovary (epigyn). The fruits of the family range from drupe, nut fruit to pome fruit.
Sweet grasses / Poaceae
The sweet grass family includes around 12,000 species, divided into 820 genera. The family is very important because about 20% of our earth is covered with grass. The plants of the family are characterized by their hollow stems, so-called culms. The plants are also important economically. Whether for lining, fabrics, grain, paper or decoration. Among other things, ryegrass, bamboo and sugar cane are well known.
Which plant families do popular houseplants belong to?
Aroid family / Araceae
The arum family includes around 4000 species and 15 to 129 genera. The plant family is distributed almost worldwide, but most of the plants in this family grow in the tropics. There are mainly small to large evergreen herbaceous plants. A characteristic is the strong formation of aerial roots . An inflorescence with an unbranched spadix , which can contain many flowers, is typical. A bract ( spathe ) encases this cob. Many popular indoor plants belong to this family, with Monstera and Philodendron being particularly well-known.
Asparagus family / Asparagaceae
Plants from the asparagus family, with their 2,500 species and 150 genera, are native to the world. This family includes seven subfamilies. Not only ornamental plants belong to this family, but also edible plants such as asparagus or agave. Perennial herbaceous plants and woody plants can be included. Due to the small proportion of leaves, the stems in this family often take over photosynthesis. Bow hemp and yucca palm are well known.
Arrowroot family / Marantaceae
The arrowroot family includes about 550 species and 31 genera . The plants are found in the tropics in the shade of rainforest trees and are therefore only of importance to us as ornamental plants. The herbaceous plants vary in size, shape and color. Some are ground covers, some are hanging or climbing. Plants of this family often form rhizomes . Their stems can be simple or branched and some parts of the plant are hairy . Well-known are Korbmarante or Pfeilwurz.
Mulberry family / Moraceae
The mulberry family consists of about 1400 species with 40 genera. The plants are distributed worldwide, but are particularly common in Asia. Certain features are difficult to recognize since trees, shrubs, lianas and succulents belong to the plant family. However, the leaves are often leathery, evergreen and not only have smooth edges, but can also be lobed or toothed. Many of the Ficus species belong to this family, but edible plants such as mulberries and jackfruit trees are also included.
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