Plant Family Identification - C
(Applies only to those plant families identified within the Wildflowers of Escambia site. When this page is loaded, scroll down to find the general plant family description you seek.)

 

Cabombaceae [= Nymphaeaceae] (Cabomba) -- The family is made up of aquatic perennial plants from rhizomes.

Water Shield
Brasenia schreberi

The flowers are axillary and solitary at the tip of a long tether. Each flower consists of three sepals, three petals and three to 20 stamens. Plants are bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form. All parts are attached to the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are alternate on the stem and floating. Each leaf is attached to a long stem. Leaf shapes are generally ovate and coated with mucilage below the water surface.

Fruit is nut-like with several seeds.

Worldwide there are only two known genera and about 75 species.

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Cactaceae (Cactus) -- Plants are succulent, mostly leafless, commonly spiny herbs and shrubs with smooth, cylindrical, or flat stems that are sometimes jointed.

Prickly Pear
Opuntia compressa

The flowers are often showy, radially symmetrical in form, blooming singly on sides or near top of stem. Many blooms have separate sepals (modified leaves) that are petal-like, the bases of which may be fused into a long tube and attached above the ovary (ovary inferior).

The leaves are simple (consisting of one part), but very small and dropping early, or not present at all. In places where the leaf should be clusters of long spines are likely to develop.

The fruit is usually fleshy, often edible, with many seeds.

Throughout the world there are about 140 genera and about 2,000 species, mostly in warm parts of the Americas. Most species favor dry, hot environments and exhibit various adaptations aiding survival.

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Caesalpinaceae (Caesalpinia / Cassia) -- Plants of the Caesalpinaceae family are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or trees.

Marsh Cassia
Chamaecrista nictitans

The flowers are usually irregular in form, often appearing symmetrical. There are five to seven stamens, five sepals and five petals. The plants are bisexual in nature.

The leaves are alternate on the stem and may be simple or pinnately compound.

Fruit is a legume.

Worldwide there are 12 genera and about 300 species in temperate regions.

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Calycanthaceae (Sweet Shrub) -- This family is also known as Strawberry Shrub Family. The plants are deciduous, rhizomatous and aromatic.

Sweet Shrub
Calycanthus floridus

Rhe flowers are solitary at the tip of a stem, bisexual in nature, symmetrical in form. Tepals number 15 to 30 (a structure of the perianth, when the sepals and petals are alike), five to 30 stamens (spirally inserted), pistils 15 to 25.

The leaves are opposite, no stipules, leaf stalks, leaf margins are smooth (except on vigorous growth twigs).

Fruit is achene, enclosed by a fleshy receptacle.

The plants are known only to North America and China; two genera and six species are recorded.

Although some members of the family contain calycanthine, an alkaloid similar to strychnine, and is toxic to humans and livestock, it remains a popular garden landscape shrub.

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Campanulaceae (Bluebell) -- Plants are usually herbs, rarely trees or shrubs, with commonly blue, lavender, or white flowers (the exception is the scarlet Cardinal Flower), solitary or clustered.

Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

The flowers are radially symmetrical, with a tubular or bell-shaped corolla. Each flower usually has five lobes that are bilaterally symmetrical, and a two-lipped corolla that is conspicuous, five stamens. The parts are attached at the top of the ovary (ovary inferior).

The leaves are alternate on the stem, consisting of one whole part, and sometimes deeply divided.

Fruit is a berry or capsule.

Many plants of this family are used as ornamental garden plants.

There are about 35 genera and 900 species, widely distributed in tropical and temperate regions.

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Cannaceae (Canna) -- Canna (often referred to as Canna Lily) is a perennial herb from a rhizome. The stems are unbranched.

Yellow Canna
Canna flacida

The flowers are borne one to each shoot at the tip of an aerial stem. Each flower rests atop a short stalk forming a raceme or panicle. The flowers are bisexual in nature; the sepals and petals differentiate; three sepals, three petals, one stamen, and one petal-like anther. and one stamen.

The leaves are cauline, two-ranked blades with veins running parallel and diverging from a prominent midrib.

The fruits are large, broadly elliptic, warty or spiny-fimbriate. The seeds are very hard with a round shape.

Worldwide there is one known genera and 10 species, primarily in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.

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Capparaceae (Caper) -- Plants of this family are usually upright smooth or hairy annuals. Many are cultivated as ornamental garden plants.

Spider Flower
Cleome spinosa

The flowers have four sepals, four petals and a superior ovary. All flowers are subtended by leaf-like bracts; bisexual in nature and irregular in form, but may appear symmetrical.

The leaves are alternate on the stems, consisting of one whole part and compound. The leaf shapes are lance-like segments, stalked to sessile with bases wedge-shaped or slightly heart-shaped.

Fruit is a capsule.

Worldwide there are some 46 genera and about 700 species in temperate or tropical regions.

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Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle) -- Mostly shrubs, sometimes vines or herbs, commonly with showy flowers.

Coral Honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

The flowers are radially or bilaterally symmetrical in form, usually in a branched or forked cluster. Each flowers has five small sepals and the corolla has five petals that are united into a slender tube. The tube is flared into a trumpet-shaped end, or forms an upper and lower lip. There are usually five stamens and all parts are attached at the top of the ovary (ovary inferior).

The leaves are opposite on the stem, consisting of one whole part, or may be compound.

Fruit is a berry, drupe, or capsule.

There are about 15 genera and 400 species in temperate regions and tropical mountains. Some members of the family are cultivated for their edible fruits; snowberry, honeysuckle and elderberries are used for making jelly and wine.

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Caryophyllaceae (Pink or Carnation) -- Plants are herbs with swollen nodes on the stems and flowers blooming singly or in a branched or forked cluster.

Fire Pink
Silene virginica

The flowers have five sepals, five petals, five to 10 stamens and all parts are attached at the base of the ovary. The sepals are usually free one from the other. The petals have a slender portion at the base and is fringed or toothed on the outer margins.

The leaves are opposite or whorled about the stem, elliptic or lance-like in form.

Fruit is usually a capsule.

There are about 80 genera and 2,000 species, primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in cooler regions.

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Celastraceae (Staff Tree) -- The family is made up of small trees and shrubs, sometimes vine-like, with small flowers that are solitary or in clusters growing in the leaf axils or at the tip of branches.

Strawberry Bush
Euonymous americanus

The flowers are radially symmetrical in form, bisexual or occasionally unisexual in nature. The calyx is made up of four to five lobed or paired petals. There are four to five stamens growing from the margin of a conspicuous fleshy disk at the bottom of the calyx. The parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are alternate or opposite on the stem and consists of one whole part.

The fruit is a capsule, berry or drupe.

There are about 40 genera and some 400 species occurring throughout the world, except in the arctic regions.

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Cistaceae (Rockrose) -- The family is made up of herbs and shrubs (and sub-shrubs), usually low plants that often grow in small colonies or dry sand hills as well as forests borders.

Rock-rose
Helianthemum corybosum

The flowers are borne solitary at the tip of a stem, or aggregated in cymes. Each flower has five petals (fall early), five sepals (two small) and numerous stamens. The flowers are showy, symmetrical in form and bisexual in nature.

The leaves are usually well-developed, but some may be reduced to scales. All leaves are densely hairy below.

Fruit is a capsule.

Worldwide there is recorded two genera and about 150 species. In North America there is 21 species recorded.

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Cletheraceae (White Alder) -- The family is made up of shrubs or small trees with fragrant white or pinkish flowers in terminal racemes or panicles.

Sweet Pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

The flower calyx is in five parts. The corolla has five petals that are slightly united at the base, 10 stamens. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are of one whole part, alternate on the stem, and toothed.

Fruit is capsule.

There is one known genera and about 30 known species occurring in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. The plants are often used as ornamental garden plants.

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Clusiaceae [= Hypericaceae] (St. John's Wort) -- The Clusiaceae family consists of trees and shrubs, usually with milky or colored sap.

St. John's Wort
Hypericum suffruticosum

The flowers are usually unisexual or bisexual in nature. The perianth consists of a calyx with two to 10 sepals and four to 12 petals. The stamens are generally numerous and distinctly separated or occasionally united. There are three to five pistils and three or more carpels and an equal number of stigmas. The parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are simple and opposite, whorled, or rarely alternate on the stem. Stipules are absent.

Fruit is a capsule or berry.

Worldwide there are about 50 genera and 1,200 species in temperate and tropical zones.

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Commelinaceae (Spiderwort) -- The Spiderwort family is made up entirely of herbs with more or less swollen nodes.

Virginia Dayflower
Tradescantia virginica

The flowers are arranged in clusters enveloped in boat-shaped bracts. Each flower is radially symmetrical in form, three sepals (modified leaves), three petals and six stamens. The flower stalks are often covered with downy hair. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are alternate, consisting of one whole part, the base forming a tubular sheath around the stem.

Fruit is capsule with three chambers.

There are about 40 genera and some 600 species throughout the world. Most are found in tropical and and sub-tropical regions. Many family members such as Moses-in-a-boat, Wandering Jew, and Dayflower are cultivated as ornamental garden plants.

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Convolvulaceae (Morning Glory) -- The family is made up of trees, shrubs, vines, or herbs. All members of the family commonly have showy, funnel-shaped flowers.

Common Morning Glory
Ipomoea purpurea

The flowers are radially symmetrical with five sepals and a corolla of five petals that may appear to be smooth at the margins, but are actually slightly lobed. There are five stamens in each flower. The corolla is attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are alternate on the stem and consists of one whole part.

Fruit is a capsule, berry, or nut.

Worldwide there are about 50 genera and almost 1,500 species, mostly in temperate and tropical regions.

Many species are cultivated for their showy flowers and one, the sweet potato, is grown for its edible fleshy stems.

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Cornaceae (Dogwood) -- This family is mostly trees and shrubs, rarely herbs. The plants commonly have small flowers surrounded by showy bracts, so to resemble a single large flower.

Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida

The flowers are bisexual or unisexual in nature and radially symmetrical in form. Each flower has four or five sepals, four or five small petals, four or five stamens, with all parts attached at the top of the ovary (ovary inferior).

The leaves are alternate or opposite on the stem and made up of one whole part.

Fruit is a berry or berry-like drupe.

There are about 12 known genera and some 100 species, mostly in temperate regions. Many members if this family are grown as ornamentals.

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Crassulaceae (Sedum) -- These are succulent herbs or small shrubs, commonly with star-like flowers in branched clusters.

Stonecrop
Sedum ternatum

The flowers have four or five sepals, four or five petals and three pistils. The parts may be separate or united with a scale-like gland at the base of each part. The stamens number as many, or twice as many as all other parts.

The leaves are fleshy, simple and alternate or opposite on the stem.

Fruit is a follicle (a dry fruit that contains more than one seed and splits along the suture at maturity).

There are about 35 genera and 1,500 species throughout the world. Many are cultivated as ornamentals or succulent novelties, include Jade, Stonecrop and Air Plant.

The plants are unique in that new growth may be vegetative, where new plantlets grow along the leaves, drop to the ground and take root.

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Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber) -- These are trailing herbs that pull itself along by coiled tendrils.

Melon-leaf Cucumber
Cayaponia quinqueloba

The flowers are small and radially symmetrical with five sepals, five united petals, five stamens and no ovary; however, there are a few that have an ovary with all parts attached at the top (ovary inferior). Those that have an ovary do not have stamens.

The leaves are alternate on the vine, simple in makeup, but sometimes deeply lobed (like a melon leaf).

The fruit is a berry with leathery skin.

There are about 100 genera and some 850 species worldwide. Most species occur in warm regions of the world.

Melons, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins are commercially important members of the family.

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Cyperaceae (Sedge) -- These family members are usually grass-like herbs of wet sites, with stems commonly three-sided.

White-topped Sedge
Dichromena colorata

The flowers are unisexual or bisexual in nature, radially symmetrical and nestled in the axils of a bract, aggregated into small compact spikes that are arranged in raceme-like, dense or openly branched clusters. The sepals and petals are bristles or scales, or entirely absent. There are three to six stamens and all parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are grass-like, long and narrow with sheaths at the base enclosing the stem. In some plants the leaf blade may be absent.

The fruit is seed-like, lens-shaped, or three-sided.

There are about 90 genera and some 4,000 species worldwide.

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Cyrillaceae (Cyrilla) -- This family is made up of small trees and shrubs with small flowers in racemes.

Leatherwood
Cyrilla racemiflora

The flowers are radially symmetrical in form with 5 sepals, five petals, and five to 10 stamens. Each flower is bisexual in nature. All flower parts are attached at the base of the ovary (ovary superior).

The leaves are simple and alternate on the stem.

Fruit is a capsule or berry-like drupe.

There are three known genera and about 12 species native to North America, South America and the West Indies.

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