Plant Family Identification - P

(Applies only to those plant families identified within the Wildflowers of Escambia site. When the page has loaded, scroll down to find the general plant family description you seek.)

 

Papaveraceae (Poppy) -- The Papaveraceae family of plants are annual or perennial herbs, occasionally shrubs, rarely trees, often with white or colored sap. The flowers are mostly borne singly.

White Prickly Poppy
Argemone albiflora

Each flower is radially symmetrical with two or three sepals that are separate or united. The sepals quickly drop off. There will be four to six showy petals that are often crumpled in the bud; numerous stamens. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple or deeply divided.

The fruit is usually a capsule, often oddly shaped, and opening by pores.

Worldwide there are 26 genera and about 200 species, mostly of temperate and subtropical zones. This family of plants is well developed in western North America. Several species are grown as ornamental garden plants.

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Passifloraceae (Passion Flower) -- The family is made up of herbaceous vines that climb by tendrils borne opposite the leaves. In tropical regions the plants may be woody vines, shrubs or trees with bizarre, elaborate flowers.

Passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

Each flower is radially symmetrical, usually in pairs in the leaf axil. Sepals number five, ofen petal-like and usually separate, but sometimes united at the base . The petals number five or none. Those that have petals may be separate. At the base of the corolla are numerous thread-like structures forming a corona. Look for three to five stamens, occasionally more. The ovary bears three to five styles that are often raised on a stalk.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple, and often deeply lobed.

Fruit is a capsule or berry.

Worldwide there are 12 genera and about 600 species in this mostly tropical American family. Some are grown for their unusual and often gaudy flowers. A few plants of this family produce edible fruit.

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Phrymaceae (Lopseed) -- The plants are small, with white or pinkish-lavender flowers that are paired in slender, elongated spike-like clusters along the top of a main stem and its diverging branches.

Each flower is about 1/4 inch long, among clusters that may be six inches. The corolla is two-lipped, and the lower lip is much longer than the upper. Look for four stamens.

The leaves are opposite on the stem, coarsely toothed; the upper leaves are short-stalked.

Fruit is dry seed-like, enclosed in the calyx,. The calyx hangs down agaiinst the stem.

The family has only one known genera and one species.

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Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed) -- The phytolaccaceae family is made up of herbs, shrubs or trees, mostly in tropical or subtropical regions. The flowers are in axillary or terminal racemes.

Pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

Each flower is bisexual or unisexual in nature, and radially symmetrical. There will be four or five separate sepals; no petals. The stamens will number as many as there are sepals. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate and entire.

Fruit is a berry, capsule or winged seed-like segment.

Worldwide there are about 17 genera and 110 species; mostly in tropical regions; infrequently cultivated.

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Pinaceae (Pine) -- This is a family of large to very large trees, without flowers or fruit. It includes Pines and Larches, Spruce, Hemlock, and Firs. The trees are resinous, mostly evergreen with straight axis and a narrow crown, usually with soft lightweight wood.

About 200 species occur worldwide in north temperate and tropical mountain regions. In North America, 61 native and 1 naturalized species occur; many others southward.

The leaves are mostly alternate or whorled, sometimes of two forms, very narrow and needle-like. The cones, pollen and seeds are borne on the same plant in separate cones. Male cones are small and herbaceous; female cones are large and woody, composed of many spuirally arranged flattened cone-scales each above a bract. There are usually two naked seeds at the base of a cone-scale, mostly wtih wings at the end.

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Plantaginaceae (Plantain) -- Herbs with basal leaves and small flowers borne in spikes or heads.

English Plantain
Plantago lanceolata

Each flower is radially symmetrical; calyx and corolla each have five united membranous or papery sepals or petals. The stamens number four that protrude from the flower. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate, basal, simple, with predominantly parallel veins.

The fruit is a capsule, with the top lifting free, or a small nut.

There are three genera and about 170 species; most inconspicuous.

A few weedy plants are found nearly throughout the world. The seeds often become mucilaginous when wet, and those of one species are used in making a bulk producing laxative.

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Plumbaginaceae (Leadwort) -- Herbs or shrubs with leaves often in basal rosettes, and small flowers borne in heads, modified raceme, or branched clusters.

Sea Lavender
Limonium carolinianum

The flowers are radially symmetrical, with five united sepals, often plaited, showy, stiff and membranous. The petals number five that are united, but the corolla is often deeply lobed and seeming to have separate petals. There will be five stamens, each positioned opposite a lobe of the corolla. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate on the stem.

Fruit is one-chambered; often leathery and does not open, or opens very late, with one seed.

Worldwide there are about 10 genera and 300 species found predominantly in dry parts of the Mediterranean region and in central Asia. A few family members are cultivated as ornamental garden plants.

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Poaceae (Grass) -- Herbs, rarely woody, with cylindrical, jointed flowering stems (culms), hollow between the joints. The leaves are mostly basal and tiny flowers aggregated into highly modified clusters.

Sea Oats
Uniola paniculata

The flowers are bisexual or unisexual in nature, very small. The sepals are rudimentary, no petals, three stamens or rarely six. The pistil has two feathery styles. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary, pistil with two feathery styles. Individual flowers are associated with scale-like bracts, and arranged into a spikelet. Spicklets are held in a conspicuous flower cluster forming a spike, head, tassel, or openly branched panicle.

The leaves are opposite, oriented on opposite side of the stem, in two ranks, the base forming a sheath around the stem, with a hairy or membranous ring (ligule) at the junction of the sheath and blade.

Fruit is grain.

This very important family, consisting of about 525 genera and 5,000 species, provides much of the food used by humans, as well as fodder for livestock. Grasses occur throughout the world in almost every habitat, with the greatest diversity of species found in tropical zones, and the greatest abundance in the temperate zones.

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Polemoniaceae (Phlox) -- Usually leafy herbs, rarely small shrubs, commonly with showy flowers in open or dense clusters branched in a forked manner.

Wild Blue Phlox
Phlox divaricata

The flowers are radially symmetrical or slightly bilaterally symmetrical. There are usually five united sepals, and five united peals that often form a slender tube with abruptly expanded tops or may be dish-like. Five united sepals will be present. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate or opposite, simple or pinnately compound.

The fruit is a three-chambered capsule.

This chiefly North American family is especially well developed in the western United States. Worldwide there are about 18 genera and 300 known species.

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Polygalaceae (Milkwort) -- Herbs, shrubs, or small trees with odd-shaped flowers borne in spikes, racemes, or branched clusters.

Orange Milkwort
Polygala lutea

The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical, with five separated sepals, two large and two petal-like. There are three petals are are often fringed. Look for eight united stamens. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate and simple.

Fruit is usually a two-chambered capsule.

There are about 13 genera and 800 species throughout the world, although absent from New Zealand and the Arctic. A few are grown as ornamental garden plants.

The flower superficially resembles the pea flower of the the family Fabaceae, and is often confused with it by those unfamiliar with Milkworts.

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Polygonaceae (Buckwheat) -- The plants of this family are mostly herbs, sometimes shrubs or vines, rarely trees, with small flowers in racemes, spike-like clusters, or in heads. The stems commonly have swollen nodes. The family name is derived from the Greek words meaning "Many Knees. "

Lady's Thumb Smartweed
Polygonum persicaria

The flowers are usually bisexual in nature, and radially symmetrical. The sepals number three to six, separate, and petal-like. Often the sepals will be arranged in two series of three each. The outer series differs somewhat from the inner. Stamens number three to nine. There are no petals. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are simple, usually alternate, at the base often forming a membranous sheath around the stem above the node.

Fruit is small, hard, generally three-sided or lens-shaped in form.

There are about 40 genera and 800 species, chiefly in north temperate regions. Rhubarb and Buckwheat are sources of food, and a few species are grown as ornamentals.

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Pontederiaceae (Pickerelweed) -- Erect or floating aquatics with flowers usually clustered in spikes or solitary.

Pickerelweed
Pontederia cordata

Each flower is more or less bilaterally symmetrical. The sepals number 6 and appear petal-like, often united at the base. There will be three or six stamens. All parts attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate, long-stalked. The leaf blades may be floating or emergent, or sometimes absent in the submerged forms.

Fruit is a capsule or seed-like.

There are six genera and about 20 species in shallow fresh water in the warm and temperate regions of America, Asia, and Africa.

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Portulacaceae (Carpetweed) -- Herbs, often succulent, with delicate flowers borne singly or in branched inflorescenes.

Rose Purslane
Portulaca pilosa

The flowers are radially symmetrical, sepals usually two united or separate; petals 4 to 6 or more, separate or united at the base; 1 stamen opposite each petals, or many stamens. All parts attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are simple, alternate, opposite, or in a dense basal rosette.

Fruit is usually a capsule, often opening at the top like a lid.

There are about 19 genera and nearly 600 species throughout the world, with many in the Americas. A few are grown as ornamentals and some are eaten as potherbs.

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Primulaceae (Primrose) -- Leafy herbs, usually with showy flowers blooming singly or in clusters.

Fringed Loosestrife
Lysimachia ciliata

The flowers are radially symmetrical, with five sepals united at the base. The five petals may be united or separate, or there will be no petals at all. The stamens number five and are positioned opposite the petals or lobes of the corolla. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are opposite, whorled, or basal; usually simple.

Fruit is a one-chambered capsule.

Worldwide, there are about 28 genera and 800 species mostly in the north temperate zone. In the United States, the family is most diverse in the eastern region.

Primroses, Cyclamens and several others are grown as ornamentals.

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Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen) - Perennial herbs with or without leaves, flowers are often dish-shaped, borne singly, in a raceme, or in branched clusters.

Striped Wintergreen
Chimaphila inaculata

Each flower is radially symmetrical. The four or five sepals may be separate or slightly united. The petals number four or five, and appear separate. There are usually 10 stamens. The pollen sacs open by terminal pores. All partsare attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate or nearly whorled, and simple.

Fruit is a four or five chambered capsule, more or less spherical.

There are four genera and about 40 species, found mostly in the northern temperate region and are sometimes considered a part of the Heath Family (Ericacaceae).

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