Plant Family Identification - M

(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.)


Magnoliaceae (Magnolia) -- Plants are large to medium-sized trees.

Bigleaf Magnolia
Magnolia macrophylla

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple (no teeth and no lobes), mostly with large stipules that form the bud and leave ring scars at the nodes.

The flowers are large and showy, frequently solitary on the stem. Each flower is bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form, with three or more sepals and six to many white petals. The flower has numerous stamens arranged in a spiral on an elongated axis, and many pistils.

Fruit is follicles or berries often united like a cone.

There are about 200 species of trees and shrubs in warm temperate and tropical regions. There are 11 native tree species in North America, including anise-trees and yellow poplar.

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Malvaceae (Mallow) -- The family is made up of herbs, shrubs, or rarely small trees. All members are often velvety with scar-like or branched hairs. The flowers are borne singly or in branched clusters.

Scarlet Hibiscus
Hibiscus coccineus

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple (no teeth and no lobes), but are often palmately veined and lobed or deeply divided.

The flowers are bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form. There will be three to five partly united sepals, five separate petals; many stamens that are joined by their stalks into a tube. All these parts will be attached at the base of the ovary.

Fruit is five to many chambers that separate from one another, or form a capsule or berry.

There are some 85 genera and 1,500 species, many in tropical America. Many plants (Rose-of-Sharon, Hollyhocks and other hibiscus) are grown as garden ornamental plants.

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Martyniaceae (Unicorn Plant) -- This group may be known by either of two names, depending on one's attitude toward their fruits. Early in their development, the fruits are green and fleshy with a single unicorn-like horn at the end. They are edible and may be pickled like cucumbers. The plant is an annual herb with ascending opposite branches near the base.

Unicorn Plant
Proboscidea louisianica

The flowers are gamopetalous, usually pink with a yellowish throat, bell-shaped, with a large lower lip. Each flower is bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form.

The leaves are large and heart-shaped, sticky to the touch, downy, opposite on the stem near the base and alternate at the upper stem.

Fruit is ovoid when green, about three inches long, single beak about four inches long, hooked at the apex, drying into a black dehisocent capsule with two curved claws.

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Melestomaceae (Meadow Beauty) -- Plants are herbs or shrubs in tropical regions, with flowers generally in clusters.

Meadow Beauty
Rhexia alifanus

The leaves are usually opposite on the stem, the margins smooth or toothed with opposite veins. There are generally no teeth and no lobes.

The flowers are symmetrical in form and bisexual in nature. The calyx tube usually has four or five lobes. Petals number four or five. Stamens are tweice as many as petals. All parts are attached at the top of the ovary.

Fruit is a capsule or berry.

There are about 175 genera and 3,000 species mostly in tropical regions, particularly South America, but the species Rhexia is native to the United States.

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Menispermaceae (Moonseed) -- These are woody vines, occasionally herbaceous; with inconspicuous flowers.

Common Moonseed
Menispermum canadense

The flowers are unisexual in nature, radially symmetrical, and clustered. There are usually six separate petals, and the sepals are petal-like, larger than the petals. Those sepals in staminate flowers are in whorles of either six or three. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are simple, but sometimes will be alternate, lobed or in three parts.

Fruit is a berry-like drupe.

These vines are mostly tropical, with a few extending into temperate zones. Some are grown as ornamentals. In North America there are four genera and five species.

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Menyanthaceae (Bogbean) -- Plants are aquatic with a basal aggregation of leaves; hydrophytic or helophytic. The leaves are alternate on the stem, spiral, petiolate, sheahing, no teeth and no lobes, or may be compound-peltate. Stem nodes take root in bog muck, sending up long tethers on which the heart-shaped leaves emerge.

Water Snowflake
Nymphoides indica

The flowers are bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form. The flowers may be solitary or aggregated in cymes, heads, or panicles. Each flower is terminal at the tip of a flowering stem.

The flowers are subtended by involucral bracts, or may have no bracts whatsoever. The flower is small and may be white or yellow. The calyx and corolla each have five petals and five sepals, some slightly fringed. There will be five stamens.

Fruit is a capsule.

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Mimosaceae (Mimosa) -- Plant is a small ornamental tree with a short trunk or several trunks and a very braod, flattened crown of spreading branches with showy pink flowers.

Mimosa Silk Tree
Albizia julibrisson

Formerly the Silk Tree was in the Legume family.

The leaves are bipinnately compound with five to 12 pairs of side axes covered with fine hairs. Each leaf is six to fifteen inches long. Each leaf segment is about 5/8 inches long.

The flowers are more than one inch long, with thread-like pink stamens that are whitish toward the base.

Fruit is a long, flat, pointed oblong pod

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Monotropaceae (Indian Pipes) -- The plants are saprophytic fleshy herbs devoid of chlorophyll, and not given to any greenish color.

Indian Pipes
Monotropa uniflora

The flowers are radially symmetrical, borne singly or in racemes or heads. The sepals number two to six and three to six separate or united petals. Stamens number six to twelve, often united by the stalks. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate on the stem and reduced to scales.

Fruit is a capsule.

There are some twelve genera and about 30 species in northern temperate zones. The roots of the plants grow in a close, apparently mutually beneficial, association with fungi.

This family is often considered to be part of the large Heath family, Ericaceae.

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Myricaceae (Myrtle) -- Nearly worldwide there are some 40 species of small trees and shrubs, mostly in the bayberry genus. There are five native tree species and three shrub species in North America.

Southern Bayberry
Myrica cerifera

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple (one whole part), toothed, and leathery, with orange or yellow resinous dots. The leaves are very aromatic when crushed, mostly without stipules.

The flowers are tiny, greenish or yellowish, male and female usually on the same plant or may be on separate plants in short lateral clusters. Each flower is symmetrical in form. There is no calyx and no corolla. Each flower appears above a small scale. Stamens are united and female flowers have one pistil.

ruit is small, rounded, whitish drupe covered with wax. There is one seed per drupe.

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