Plant Family Identification - O

(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.)

Oleaceae (Olive) -- Plants are shrubs, trees, or occasionally woody vines.

Devilwood
Osmanthus americanus

The leaves are opposite on the stem, or occasionally alternate. Each leaf is simple or compound (Ash) in form, consisting of one whole part and having no teeth or lobes. The texture is thick and there are no stipules.

The flower calyx is four lobed, four petals (or petals are absent). The ovary is superior. There are two stamens inserted on the corolla, with one pistil. Each flower is bisexual in nature, or some species will produce male and female flowers on separate trees (Ash).

Fruit is a berry, drupe, capsule, or samara (a dry winged fruit that does not split open at maturity).

There are some 500 species worldwide. Twenty-two are native and three are naturalized. In North America there are ten native shrubs. In the Escambia region are: Fringtree (Grancy Gray-beard), Swamp Privet, Florida Privet, White Ash, Water Ash, Green Ash, Pumpkin Ash, Chinese Privet, and Devilwood

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Onagraceae (Evening Primrose) -- Plants are annual or perennial. The family is usually made up of herbs, rarely shrubs or trees.

Grand Primrose
Oenothera grandiflora

The leaves are simple in form, opposite or alternate on the stem.

The flowers are showy and borne singly in a raceme, spike, or in branched clusters; radially symmetrical. There are usually four separated sepals, and four separated petals. Both series are usually united at the base into a long, short, or barely discernible tube. There is usually four or eight stamens. All these parts are attached at the top of the ovary.

Fruit is a four-chambered capsule, less commonly a berry or hard nut-like structure.


The Evening Primrose family has about 650 species worldwide, and about 20 genera; especially abundant in temperate zones. Some are treated as ornamental garden plants.

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Ophioglossaceae (Adder's-Tongue) -- Plants are leafy and often fleshy.

Grape Fern
Botrychium dissectum

The leaves (fronds) are simple or branched, often fern-like in aspect, erect in vernation (the arrangement of leaves in the bud), developed from subterranean buds formed either inside the base of the old stalk or by the side of it, and bearing specialized spikes or panicles rather large subcoriaceous bivalve spores formed from the main tissue of the fruiting branches. This is a small family separated from the ferns by the different nature of the spores.

Plants known to the Escambia region are Adder's-Tongue and Grape Fern.

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Orchidaceae (Orchid) -- Plants are perennial herbs with complicated, unusual and often beautiful flowers borne singly or in a spike, raceme, or branched cluster.

Grass Pink Orchid
Calopogon pulchellus

The leaves are simple, usually alternate on the stem.

The flowers are bisexual in nature, and bilaterally symmetrical in form, twisting one-half turn during development. The top of the flower was originally the bottom. There are three separated sepals that often resemble petals. There are three separated petals, the lower usually different from the other two and modified into an elaborate lip that often bears a backward projecting spur or sac. There will be one or two stamens that are united with the style and stigma, forming a complex structure called the column. All of these parts are attached at the top of the ovary.

Fruit is a three-chambered capsule.

This is the largest family of flowering plants in number of species. Worldwide there is more than 20,000 species and 600 to 700 genera. Most are abundant in the tropics where they frequently grow upon other vegetation. Vanilla is obtained from this family. Many species are grown as greenhouse novelties.

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Orobanchacea (Broomrape) - The plants of this family are annual or perennial, usually somewhat fleshy, herbaceous root parasites that lack chlorophyll. The color is usually some shade of yellow, brown, violet, or red. The flowers are in a raceme, spike, or borne singly at the top of of a slender stem.

Squawroot
Conopholis americana


Photo courtesy Dr. S. L. Timme

The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical in form. Each flower has two to five united sepals and five united petals, forming an upper and lower lip. There are four stamens. all these parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are simple, scale-like, and alternate on the stem.

Fruit is a one-chambered capsule.

Worldwide there are 180 known species and 13 genera. Most members of this family are primarily located in northern temperate regions, especially warmer parts of the region.

These parasitic plants are usually not so numerous as to be of any economic importance. In the Escambia region are: Squawroot, Beechdrops, and Cancer Root. The plants obtain nourishment from the roots of other plants.

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Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel) -- Plants are herbs with alternate or basal leaves that are usually compound, the plants varying to shrubs or rarely trees. The flowers are borne singly or in an umbel. The sap is often sour.

Yellow Wood Sorrel
Oxalis stricta

The leaves are usually palmately compound and resembling the three-leaved clover. Sometimes the leaves will have more than three leaflets, or only one by evolutionary reduction, or may be pinnately compound.

The flowers are radially symmetrical with five separated sepals and five separated petals. The sepals and petals may be united at the base. There are ten stamens joined by their stalks.  All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary (superior). The ovary has five styles.

Fruit is a five-chambered capsule (rarely berry).

Worldwide, there are more than 1,000 species and eight genera, primarily in tropical and subtropical regions. Several species are cultivated as ornamental garden plants. The leaves are edible and often chopped and mixed with garden salads.

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