Plant Families by Alphabetical Order
Click on one of the links below to view plant families in alphabetical order, or use the chart below to find families by taxonomic hierarchy
Plant Families by Taxonomic Hierarchy
This page provides links to the plant families depicted in the Country, Farm and Garden Photo Library image collection and arranges them in their taxonomic hierarchy according to the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV (APG IV) classification system. Click on the family name to be taken to a page that links to the genera in that family and thence to the species, hybrids and cultivars. Understanding the class and order to which plant belongs is a useful guide to their evolutionary development. If you are unfamiliar with this type of layout, there is also an alphabetical list of plant families. Note: Only plant families of which we have images are listed here. There are many more plant families.
Click on a family name below (shown in white) to go to that family's page,
from which you can access genera and then on to species
Spore-bearing Nonvascular Plants
Division: Bryophyta Mosses
Bryales is the largest order of mosses and consists of low, carpeting species with a worldwide distribution and the ability to colonise a wide range of habitats. Many can also survive extended periods of desiccation. Their fruiting bodies are usually minute cylindrical capsules held above the foliage on hair-like filaments.
Bryaceae – Bryum Family
Hypopterigiaceae – Umbrella Moss Family
Hypnaceae – Plait Moss Family
Lembophyllaceae – Lembophylla Family
Hypnodendraceae – Palm Moss Family
Ptychomniaceae – Ptychomnion Family
Dicranaceae – Dichranoloma Family
Grimmiaceae - Rock Moss Family
Polytrichaceae – Polytrichum Family
Pottiaceae – Screw Moss Family
Sphagnaceae – Peat Moss Family
Division: Anthocerophyta Hornworts
Division: Marchantiophyta Liverworts or Hepatics
Marchantiales is an order of thallose liverworts with a widespread distribution. Growing in damp areas and with the ability to form dense carpets, some species have become weeds, especially in regularly irrigated areas such as plant nurseries. In addition to spores, they also reproduce vegetatively via gemma cups.
Aytoniaceae – Aytonia Family
Marchantiaceae – Marchantia Family
Schistochilaceae – Schistochila Family
Lepidolaenaceae – Lepidolaena Family
Spore-bearing Vascular Plants
Division: Lycopodiophyta Clubmosses
The spike moss order or Selaginellales contains just one family, Selaginellaceae, and one genus, Selaginella, though that genus contains some very widespread 700 species. These ancient vascular plants, which originated in the carboniferous age, fall between the true mosses and the ferns. While many resemble large mosses, they have a primitive vascular system and spend the vast majority of their lives as sporophytes. They are perennial plants and may be terrestrial or epiphytic.
Selaginellaceae – Spikemoss Family
The club moss order or Lycopodiales contains just one family, Lycopodiaceae, which is composed of 16 genera and over 380 species. These ancient vascular plants, which originated around 380 million years ago, fall between the true mosses and the ferns. While many resemble large mosses, they spend the vast majority of their lives as sporophytes. They are perennial plants and may be terrestrial or epiphytic, spreading via adventitious roots and/or rhizomes. In addition to some ornamental and medicinal uses, this order is the source of lycopodium dust, which is used as a lubricant and in some explosives.
Lycopodiaceae – Club Moss Family
Division: Pteridophyta Ferns and Horsetails
The order of horsetails or Equisetales has just one family, Equisetaceae, and one genus Equisetum, of which their are some 20 species. Horsetails are ancient spore-bearing plants that were once among the dominant living organisms. Modern species are small, but their ancient relatives included tree-like giants, the remains of which have produced much of our carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. Equisetum, the only extant genus, may even have existed in the carboniferous.
Equisetaceae – Horsetail Family
Marattiaceae – Giant Fern Family
Cyatheales is the tree fern order and is composed of 8 families with a total of over 700 species, most of which occur in the Cyatheaceae (600+ species) and Dicksoniaceae (around 35 species). The order dates back to the Triassic periods, some 250 million years ago. While some can grow to 20m tall, not all members of the order develop to tree-like size. They are a diverse group that do not really exhibit clearly defining features, though they have been shown to be monophyletic.
Cyatheaceae – Scaly Tree Fern Family
Gleicheniaceae – Forked Fern Family
Hymenophyllaceae – Filmy Fern Family
Osmundaceae – Royal Fern Family
Polypodiales or the polypod ferns is an order of ferns encompassing some 80% of extant fern species. Although ferns are ancient plants, the polypods are thought to have diverged only around 100 millions years ago, about the same time or slightly more recently than when the first flowering plants developed. While primarily classified by features of their sporangia, they also have more readily visible characteristics, such as rather thick, sometimes leathery leaves, an often quite simple arrangement of leaflets or lobes, and sometimes completely entire leaves.
Aspleniaceae – Spleenwort Family
Athyriaceae – Lady Fern Family
Blechnaceae – Chain Fern Family
Davalliaceae – Hanging Fern Family
Dennstaedtiaceae – Bracken Fern Family
Dryopteridaceae – Shield Fern Family
Nephrolepidaceae – Ladder Fern Family
Onocleaceae – Sensitive Fern Family
Polypodiaceae – Polypod Fern Family
Pteridaceae – Brake Fern Family
Thelypteridaceae – Marsh Fern Family
Salviniaceae – Water Fern Family
Spermatophyta Seed-bearing Plants
Division: Angiosperma Flowering Plants
Amborella trichopoda from the island of Grand Terre, New Caledonia is thought to be the most ancient extant flowering plant and it appears to an ancestor of all flowering plants. It is large evergreen shrub or small tree, and the sole member of its genus, family and order. Its flowers are unisexual (dioecious) but while each plant can produce only male or female flowers at a time, it may change which it produces with changes in flowering season. Many aspects of Amborella confirm its primitiveness as an angiosperm, from the nature of its xylem, its lack of true petals or sepals, and carpels without styles.
The water lily order encompasses around 70 species in 11 genera that began to diverge over 110 million years ago, possibly up to 140mya, in the Cretaceous period. It consists of three aquatic plant families: the water lilies (Nymphaeaceae), the Cabombaceae, one species of which is a popular aquarium plants, and the minute plants of Hydatellaceae. They were among the earliest flowering plants, and display characteristics of both eudicots and monocots, having rings of vascular tissue as found in eudicots but with plastids, like monocots. This indicates that they evolved before these traits became characteristic of the two more highly developed groups.
Nymphaeaceae – Water Lily Family
The order Austrobaileyales is made up of three families — Austrobaileyaceae, Schisandraceae and Trimeniaceae — that between them contain around 100 species. Schisandra, Kadsura and Illicium are the most well-known genera and all are in the Schisandraceae. The divergence of the order dates to the early Cretaceous period, over 150 million years ago, and possibly as much as 200mya. They are a variable group of vigorous vines and woody shrubs, many of which are highly aromatic, as typified by the well known anise genus (Illicium). Their flowers often have thick, strappy petals and a central boss of stamens and gynoecia.
Schisandraceae – Anise Family
Only recently created when the link between its two families, Canellaceae and Winteraceae, was established, this order consists 15 genera and around 136 species of aromatic, evergreen shrubs and trees. They are an early group of angiosperms that began to diverge around 125 million years ago. The stamens are united in a characteristic tubular structure and the pollen is monosulcate, as opposed to the tricolpate pollen of eudicots. Other ancient features include small, rudimentary embryos in the seeds and the absence of xylem vessels in Winteraceae, though some consider this to be an evolved feature rather than a primitive one.
Winteraceae – Winter's Bark Family
Laurales is an old order, one of the Magnoliids or the Core Angiosperms. While more advanced than its sister order Magnoliales, the 7 families, 90-odd genera and 2,900 species of Laurales began their divergence at least 110 million years ago and may go back to 120 mya. This length of time has led to a wide distribution and divergence among modern species. So much so that their are no easy morphological ways to determine relationships in this order. Instead, classification is entirely reliant on molecular studies. Laurales includes such well known plants as the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and avocado (Persea americana), and important tropical timber trees, such as camphor wood (Cinnamomum camphora) and greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei).
Atherospermataceae – Southern Sassafras Family
Calycanthaceae – Allspice Family
Lauraceae – Laurel Family
Monimiaceae – Monimia Family
Part of the core angiosperm subdivision, Magnoliales includes just one family, Magnoliaceae, which is composed of of just two genera, Magnolia and Liriodendron, that between them encompass around 220 species. Magnolia as it is currently defined includes a range of genera, such as Michelia and Manglietia, that were until recently classified separately. Their age in the fossil record, the spiral structure of stamens and pistils on a conical receptacle, and the lack of distinct petals or sepals, suggest that Magnoliales are among the most primitive flowering plants.
Magnoliaceae – Magnolia Family
The pepper order or Piperales is largely tropical and subtropical group of core angiosperms and includes just three families, which between them have 17 genera and around 4,200 species. Aristolochiaceae is a family of some 400 species of herbaceous perennials, climbers and a few shrubs known for their unusual and often very large flowers. The seven species in Saururaceae are herbaceous perennials, again with distinctive flowers, this time in arching spikes. Piperaceae is the heart of the order, though. It is composed of 13 genera with around 3,600 species of perennials, shrubs and trees, and is renowned as the source of pepper and other spices. The fossil record of this order is virtually nonexistent but they appear to have diverged during the mid-Cretaceous.
Aristolochiaceae – Birthwort Family
Piperaceae – Pepper Family
Saururaceae – Lizard's Tail Family
Independent Order: Chloranthales
Acoraceae – Sweet Flag Family
Alismataceae – Water Plantain Family
Aponogetonaceae – Cape Pondweed Family
Araceae – Arum Lily Family
Dioscoreaceae – Yam Family
Pandanaceae – Pandanus Family
The lily order or Liliales is a widespread group of 11 families of monocots that between them encompass 67 genera about 1560 species. The order includes many popular ornamental plants, especially in the families Liliaceae, Colchicaceae and Alstroemeriaceae. Others are important food plants or drug sources. Plants in Liliales produce bulbs or corms. These are mainly underground storage organs but sometimes also occur on the stems. Their flowers often have nectaries, as most species are insect pollinated.
Alstroemeriaceae – Peruvian Lily Family
Colchicaceae – Autumn Crocus Family
Liliaceae – Lily Family
Melanthiaceae – Bunchflower Family
Philesiaceae – Chilean Bellflower Family
Ripogonaceae – Supplejack Family
Asparagales or the asparagoid lilies is an order of monocotyledons that in its current form includes 14 families and over 1,120 genera and 36,000 species. This number results from revisions of the wider Petrosaviidae subclass, particularly in relation to the distribution of genera in Liliales and Asparagales, which is based on characteristics of their seeds, flowers and stems, This work is ongoing and somewhat contentious, so there are bound to be further changes.
Amaryllidaceae – Amaryllis Family
Asparagaceae – Asparagus Family
Asphodelaceae – Asphodel Family
Asteliaceae – Pineapple Grass Family
Doryanthaceae – Spear Lily Family
Hypoxidaceae – Star Grass Family
Iridaceae – Iris Family
Ixioliriaceae – Ixiolirion Family
Orchidaceae – Orchid Family
Tecophiliaceae – Blue Crocus Family
Xeronemataceae – Poor Knight's Lily Family
Arecales or the monocot order of palms includes just one family, the Arecaceae, which composed of some 180 genera and 260 species. Palms evolved around 80 million years ago and have become widespread in the tropics to warm temperate zones. They include many plants of economic importance and are also widely cultivated as ornamentals. Many are single-trunked, others form clumps, and the foliage may be fan- or feather-shaped.
Arecaceae – Palm Family
Commelinaceae – Spiderwort Family
Haemodoraceae – Bloodwort Family
Pontederiaceae – Pickerel Family
Poales is the monocotyledon order of the grasses, sedges, reds and rushes. It is made up of 16 families, around 20,000 species, and also includes the bromeliads, which can at first seem rather incongruous. Although their flowers are often inconspicuous, Poales is among the most successful of the orders of flowering plants, occurring almost everywhere that plants grow. The species are characterised by the basal growth, which along with their nutritious seedheads has made them extremely economically important. Its hard to imagine the world without the manicured grass of lawns and playing fields, the grass of farm pastures and the products made from cereal crops.
Bromeliaceae – Bromeliad Family
Cyperaceae – Sedge Family
Juncaceae – Rush Family
Poaceae – Grass Family
Restionaceae – Cape Reed Family
Typhaceae – Cattail Family
The Zingiberales or ginger order is a group of 8 monocot families that contain 68 genera that between them include around 2,600 of mainly rhizomatous perennial species. They are mainly tropical and subtropical plants. Undoubtedly, the plants from the Zingiberales that we see most often are the bananas. Gingers are most often encountered as flavourings that as actual plants, but many other genera in this order, such as Strelitzia and Heliconia, include popular ornamental species. The order appeared somewhere between 80-120 million years and diverged quite rapidly.
Cannaceae – Indian Shot Family
Costaceae – Spiral Ginger Family
Heliconiaceae – Heliconia Family
Marantaceae – Arrowroot Family
Musaceae – Banana Family
Strelitziaceae – Bird of Paradise Family
Zingiberaceae – Ginger Family
Buxaceae – Boxwood Family
The protea order or Proteales is a group of just four families of eudicots, Nelumbonaceae,, Platanaceae, Sabiaceae and Proteaceae, which contains the vast bulk of around 90 genera and 1,740 species in the order. The plants in Proteales are extremely diverse. It is very difficult to see any morphological similarities between a protea and a plane tree, so molecular evidence has been vital in determining the phylogeny. Proteales is particularly well represented in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in South Africa and Australia, with such well known genera as Protea, Leucospermum, Banksia and Grevillea.
Platanaceae – Plane Family
Proteaceae – Protea Family
Members of the buttercup order or Ranunculales occur worldwide and include many popular garden annuals, perennial and shrubs, colourful wildflowers and more than a few rather invasive weeds. The order is composed of 7 families with over 160 genera and around 2,800 species. They are eudicots that began to diversify around 125 million years ago. Large woody species are very uncommon in this order, and many are small, spreading perennials. While common in gardens, Ranunculales has relatively few edible, medicinal or commercial uses, except to the nursery trade.
Berberidaceae – Barberry Family
Lardizabalaceae – Lardizabala Family
Papaveraceae – Poppy Family
Ranunculaceae – Buttercup Family
Trochodendraceae – Wheel Tree Family
Gunneraceae – Gunnera Family
Dilleniceae – Dillenia Family
Berberidopsidaceae – Coral Vine Family
Loranthaceae – Showy Mistletoe Family
Caryophyllales is a eudicot order. It encompasses 37 families with around 750 genera and over 11,500 species. Visually, it is a diverse group, with such strikingly different looking plants as cacti, amaranths, beets, carnations and sundews. Growth types range from tiny annuals to trees, Betalain pigments are unique to this order and the magenta shade they produce is characteristic of the flowers of many plants in the order.
Aizoaceae – Ice Plant Family
Amaranthaceae – Amaranth Family
Basellaceae – Madeira Vine Family
Cactaceae – Cactus Family
Caryophyllaceae – Pink Family
Didiereaceae – Octopus Tree Family
Droseraceae – Sundew Family
Montiaceae – Miner's Lettuce Family
Nepenthaceae – Tropical Pitcher Plant Family
Nyctaginaceae – Four O'Clock Family
Phytolaccaceae – Pokeweed Family
Plumbaginaceae – Leadwort Family
Polygonaceae – Knotweed Family
Portulacaceae – Purslane Family
Tamaricaceae – Tamarisk Family
Cornales or the dogwood order is made up of just 7 families with around 35 genera and 600 species between them. It is regarded as the basal or oldest order of the asterid clade, the largest among the angiosperms, and began to diverge as much as 120 million years ago. Plants in Cornales have very primitive looking 4-part flowers, often with bracts, and develop drupaceous fruits. Many popular ornamental trees and shrubs are in this order, including Cornus, Hydrangea and Philadelphus.
Cornaceae – Dogwood Family
Curtisiaceae – Curtisia Family
Hydrangeaceae – Hydrangea Family
Nyssaceae – Tupelo Family
The eudicot order Ericales encompasses some 22 families with over 8,000 species, around half of which are in the Ericaceae or heath family. The order includes many significant ornamental plants, such as Rhododendron, Primula and Camellia, commercial crops, such as blueberries and cranberries (Vaccinium), kiwifruit (Actinidia) and Camellia again for tea, and also timber trees, such as ebony. Many of the species have five fused petals and mycorrhizal relationships, some of them specific to Ericales, are common.
Actinidiaceae – Chinese Gooseberry Family
Balsaminaceae – Balsam Family
Clethraceae – White Alder Family
Ebenaceae – Ebony Family
Ericaceae – Heath Family
Pentaphylacaceae – Pentaphylaca Family
Polemoniaceae – Phlox Family
Primulaceae – Primrose Family
Sapotaceae – Sapote Family
Sarraceniaceae – Pitcher Plant Family
Styracaceae – Silver Bells Family
Symplocaceae – Sweetleaf Family
Theaceae – Camellia Family
Apiales, the carrot order, is made up of 7 widespread families, around 375 genera and over 5,000 species of eudicots. It includes not only the umbellifers (Apiaceae) and clearly related plants such as the aralias (Araliaceae), but also plants of the Pittosporaceae, Pennantiaceae and Griseliniaceae that have quite a different flower structure. Nevertheless, DNA phylogeny suggests a common ancestor, so for now they are grouped together.
Apiaceae – Carrot Family
Araliaceae – Aralia Family
Griseliniaceae – Griselinia
Pennantiaceae – Pennantia Family
Pittosporaceae – Pittosporum Family
Aquifoliaceae – Holly Family
Asterales is a eudicot order of 11 families and around 28,500 species, some 25, 000 of which belong to the Asteraceae, the sunflower or daisy family. Species in Asterales are found worldwide and include several families that are relatively recent on the evolutionary scale. Because all of the families in the order can be found naturally in the Southern Hemisphere, it is thought likely to have originated there.
Alseuosmiaceae – Alseuosmia Family
Argophyllaceae – Silverleaf Family
Asteraceae – Daisy Family
Campanulaceae – Bellflower Family
Goodeniaceae – Fan Flower Family
Rousseaceae – Roussea Family
Stylidiaceae – Trigger Plant Family
Bruniaceae – Brunia Family
Columelliaceae – Columellia Family
Adoxaceae – Moschatel Family
Caprifoliaceae – Honeysuckle Family
Escalloniaceae – Escallonia Family
Paracryphiaceae – Paracryphia Family
Boraginaceae – Borage Family
Garryaceae – Tassel Tree Family
Although not as well known as some, the eudicot order Gentianales is large. It encompasses around 16,000 species in some 1,140 genera, which are all contained in just 5 families. In addition to the beautiful flowers of the Gentianaceae, after which the order is named, it includes some very significant plants if the Apocynaceae and Rubicaeae. Potent alkaloid toxins are common in this order, and Apocynaceae includes several genera thus endowed. They often also exude a milky latex. Several insect species rely on feeding on these plants and concentrating the alkaloids to provide predator defence. Rubiaceae provides many attractive ornamentals, but is best known as the home of the genus Coffea, from which we derive that staple of life: coffee.
Apocynaceae – Dogbane Family
Gelsemiaceae – Jessamine Family
Gentianaceae – Gentian Family
Rubiaceae – Madder Family
Covering a huge range of plants from tiny, spreading annuals and perennial to shrubs, trees and climbers, the eudicot order Lamiales, also includes many popular culinary and medicinal herbs among in its nearly 24,000 species in 1060 genera and 24 families. Recent work with this order has seen revisions in the placement of species in Scrophulariaceae and Plantaginaceae. Lamiales diversified between 100 and 50 million years ago.
Acanthaceae – Acanthus Family
Bignoniaceae – Trumpet Vine Family
Calceolariaceae – Lady's Purse Family
Gesneriaceae – African Violet Family
Lamiaceae – Mint Family
Linderniaceae – False Pimpernel Family
Mazaceae – Creeping Thyme Family
Oleaceae – Olive Family
Orobanchaceae – Broomrape Family
Paulowniaceae – Empress Tree Family
Phrymaceae – Lopseed Family
Plantaginaceae – Plantain Family
Scrophulariaceae – Figwort Family
Stilbaceae – Stilbe Family
Verbenaceae – Verbena Family
The potato order or Solanales is eudicot order of five families that encompass 165 genera and around 4,100 species. The order includes many well known plants, some of which are staple crops or ornamental plants, while others are invasive weeds or notorious for their toxicity. Most of plants for which the order is best known come from the Solanaceae and Convolvulaceae family. Solanaceae includes potatoes and tomatoes, but also less desirable plants such as the invasive nightshades and at least one once highly regarded genera whose reputation has fallen: tobacco (Nicotiana). Convolvulaceae is known as the home of some invasive weeds, but is also home to the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas).
Convolvulaceae – Bindweed Family
Solanaceae – Nightshade Family
Saxifragales is a very diverse order that achieved a considerable amount of its variation quite quickly in the period from 105 to 90 million years ago. With around 2,500 species in 100 genera and 15 families, Saxifragales is not an especially large order and it is one with a distinct Northern Hemisphere and temperate zone bias, though species are quite widely distributed. The science behind families being placed in Saxifragales is largely based on genetic and molecular studies, as morphologically they show few really consistent and distinct similarities.
Altingiaceae – Sweet Gum Family
Aphanopetalaceae – Gum Vine Family
Cercidiphyllaceae – Katsura Tree Family
Crassulaceae – Stonecrop Family
Daphniphyllaceae – Daphniphyllum Family
Grossulariaceae – Currant Family
Haloragaceae – Water Milfoil Family
Hamamelidaceae – Witch Hazel Family
Iteaceae – Sweetspire Family
Paeoniaceae – Peony Family
Saxifragaceae – Saxifrage Family
Vitaceae – Grape Family
Superorder: COM Clade
Celastraceae – Staff Tree Family
The eudicot order Malpighiales includes the large genus Euphorbia, which increases the number of species in its 36 families to around 16,000. The order also includes the willow family (Salicaceae), the violet family (Violaceae) and the passionflowers (Passiflora). The order includes edible plants, medicinal plants and also highly toxic plants with potent alkaloids. The order began its radiation to it currently very diverse evolutionary state a little over 100 million years ago.
Clusiaceae – Garcinia Family
Euphorbiaceae – Spurge Family
Hypericaceae – St. John's Wort Family
Linaceae – Flax Family
Ochnaceae – Ochna Family
Passifloraceae – Passionflower Family
Salicaceae – Willow Family
Violaceae – Violet Family
Cunoniaceae – Butterknife Bush Family
Elaeocarpaceae – Burwood Family
Oxalidaceae – Wood Sorrel Family
Superorder: Nitrogen-fixing Clade
Cucurbitales, the eudicot cucumber, melon or squash order, is composed of 8 families and around 110 genera that contain some 2,600 species. Apart from the obvious commercial significance of the edible plants of the Cucurbitaceae, the order also includes a very well known ornamental plant family: Begoniaceae. Principally tropical and subtropical in distribution, most species in Cucurbitales are quite easily recognised, but those of the Coriariaceae, Tetramelaceae and Corynocarpaceae are not the typical annuals, soft-stemmed shrubs and vines, but rather they are often woody-stemmed shrubs or small trees. The order began to diverge from the wider Rosid clade around 90 million years ago.
Begoniaceae – Begonia Family
Coriariaceae – Coriaria Family
Corynocarpaceae – Dogwood Family
Cucurbitaceae – Gourd Family
Fabales, the pea or legume eudicot order, is a group of just 4 families, but includes over 750 genera that encompass more than 20,000 species, more than 90% of which are in the pea family, the Fabaceae. With a worldwide distribution and the third largest plant family, the peas have a vast economic importance, not only for the edible crops found in the family, but for their ability to fix and store atmospheric nitrogen. This has made them invaluable as pasture plants, especially the clovers, and as green manure crops. Poor soils can be enhanced through legume growth and they are a vital part of crop rotation. Other families in the order have a far more localised natural distribution but still contain important ornamental and commercial plants.
Fabaceae – Pea Family
Polygalaceae – Milkwort Family
Quillajaceae – Soapbark Family
The beech order or Fagales is composed of 7 families that contain 55 genera and around 1,900 species. They are evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs that are found almost worldwide, some extending to high latitudes in the Arctic and Subantarctic South America. They are dicotyledons but usually have inconspicuous flowers that are borne in catkins. All the families include species that are cultivated ornamentally or for their fruit or timber. Many of the worlds finest forest, woodlands and parks would look very different without Fagales.
Betulaceae – Birch Family
Casuarinaceae – Sheoak Family
Fagaceae – Beech Family
Juglandaceae – Walnut Family
Nothofagaceae – Southern Beech Family
The rose order or Rosales is composed of 9 families, around 260 genera and 7,600 species. Rosales includes plants that often affect our lives with such diverse effects as the beauty of roses, the delectability of cherries and apricots and the irritation of nettles to the intoxication of hops and cannabis. Members of Rosales can be found worldwide. They probably began their evolutionary radiation around 80-100 million years ago and since that time there has been a general trend among these plants to move from showy flowers reliant on insect vectors for pollination to simpler, wind-pollinated flowers.
Cannabaceae – Hemp Family
Elaeagnaceae – Oleaster Family
Moraceae – Mulberry Family
Rhamnaceae – Buckthorn Family
Rosaceae – Rose Family
Ulmaceae – Elm Family
Urticaceae – Nettle Family
Although not especially large, the eudicot order Brassicales includes some very important food crop plants among its 16 families, 400 genera and 4,450 species. Most significant are probably those in the Brassicaceae, the source of cabbages, mustard, radishes, but also noteworthy are capers and papaya. Sulphur compounds known as mustard oils are common in this order, which began its evolutionary radiation a little over 100 million years ago.
Brassicaceae – Mustard Family
Caricaceae – Papaya Family
Cleomaceae – Spider Flower Family
Limnanthaceae – Limnanthes Family
Resedaceae – Mignonette Family
Tropaeoleaceae – Nasturtium Family
Stachyuraceae – Spiketail Family
Staphyleaceae – Bladdernut Family
Francoaceae – Bridal Wreath Family
Geraniaceae – Geranium Family
Melianthaceae – Honey Bush Family
The mallow order or Malvales, as currently recognised, is a group of 10 families of eudicots that encompass some 340 genera with around 6,000 species. The flowers most often have numerous stamens, which in the Malvaceae have been aggregated into the staminal column, a central structure with protruding anthers that surround several styles and stigmas. Malvales includes many plants valued in gardens, particularly in Malvaceae, Cistaceae and Thymelaeaceae. Others, especially cotton and okra, have great economic importance.
Cistaceae – Rockrose Family
Malvaceae – Mallow Family
Thymelaeaceae – Daphne Family
Myrtales is the myrtle order of eudicots. It is made up of 9 families with 380 genera and around 13,000 species, with two families, Myrtaceae and Melastomataceae, accounting for the bulk of the species. They occur mainly in the warmer regions and are typified by having flower clusters composed of numerous stems and few, if any petals. The genus includes many evergreen shrubs and trees and is particularly well represented in Australia with genera such as Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Leptospermum. These plants are known for their aromatic oils and abundant nectar, and have great economic importance for timber, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications and honey production. Fuchsias and other significant garden plants are also found in this order.
Combretaceae – White Mangrove Family
Lythraceae – Loosestrife Family
Melastomataceae – Melastoma Family
Myrtaceae – Myrtle Family
Onagraceae – Willowherb Family
The soapwood order or Sapindales is perhaps best known for the maples (Acer), though its 9 families, 460 genera and around 5,700 species also include the citrus family (Rutaceae), the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) and many plants grown as ornamentals, such as horse chestnuts (Aesculus). Others, such as Toxicodendron, are known for their ability to cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. This order of mainly woody-stemmed eudicots appears to be less than 100 millions years old and has diversified rapidly, spreading over most of the planet, especially in the tropics and subtropics.
Anacardiaceae – Cashew Family
Meliaceae – Mahogany Family
Rutaceae – Citrus Family
Sapindaceae – Soapberry Family
Simaroubaceae – Quassia Family
Division: Gymnosperma Conifers and Allied Plants
The cycads are primitives cone-bearing plans and their order contains just three families: Cycadaceae, Stangeriaceae and Zamiaceae. Between them they encompass up to12 genera and a little over 300 species. While superficially palm like, they are not flowering plants. Instead, they produce impressive cones. Cycads are found in the tropics and subtropics and belong to a lineage that dates back at least 280 million years and may extend well over 300 million years. Many cycads are endangered in the wild.
Cycadaceae – Sago Palm Family
Zamiaceae – Sago Palm Family
Represented among extant plants by just one family, genus and species: Ginkgo biloba of the Ginkgoaceae, Ginkgoales is an order of gymnosperms that once included five families, the other four of which have long been extinct. Indeed, Ginkgo itself was for many years better known from fossils than wild specimens. The order is ancient, having first diverged in the Triassic period, around 250 million years ago. The ginkgo is notable for its fan-shaped, deciduous foliage arranged helically on the stems, and distinctive soft fruit, which has an unpleasant smell. Once near worldwide in distribution, for a least the last 200,000 years that natural range has been restricted to just a small part of eastern China.
Ginkgoaceae – Maidenhair Tree Family
Pinales or the conifers is the plant order that includes all the extant conifers, which are contained within just 6 families of around 700 species in total. This surprisingly small number is an indication of how dominant flowering plants have become, as even including all others in the wider group of gymnosperms only raises the species count to around 1000. However, these include the most ancient of the extant higher plants and also some of the most distinctive and readily identified, as all species in Pinales are cone-bearing.
Araucariaceae – Monkey Puzzle Family
Cupressaceae – Cypress Family
Pinaceae – Pine Family
Podocarpaceae – Podocarp Family
Sciadopityaceae – Umbrella Pine
Taxaceae – Yew Family
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