Plant Family Identification - R

(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.)


Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) -- This family is usually leafy herbs, sometimes woody vines or shrub-like, with flowers borne singly, in racemes, or in branched clusters.

Leather Flower
Clematis crispa

The flowers are usually bisexual in nature, radially or bilaterally symmetrical. The sepals and petals vary in number and separated. Petals may be lacking and the sepals may be petal-like. There are usually many stamens; pistils vary in number from 1 to many.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, rarely opposite. Each leaf is commonly palmately lobed or divided, or sometimes pinnate or simple and not lobed.

Fruit is a pod (follicle), seed-like (achene), or a berry.

The family has 35 or more genera and about 2,000 species mostly in cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Several are grown as garden ornamental plants, others provide drugs, and some are poisonous. the family is most likely to be confused with the Rosaceae, from which it is distinguished by the absence of an hypanthium.

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Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) -- The Fhamnaceae family is made up of shrubs, trees, or vines with usually small flowers in clusters.

New Jersey Tea
Ceanothus americanus

The flowers are radially symmetrical, 5 separate sepals (rarely 4), 5 separate petals, or sometimes 4 or none. There will be 1 stamen opposite each petal or, if petals are absent, between the sepals, attached to the flower near the edge of a conspicuous disk that surrounds the ovary.

The leaves consist of one whole part, unlobed, alternate on the stem (or sometimes opposite).

There are nearly 60 genera and some 900 species throughout the world. Edible fruits are obtained from the tropical Jujube, and Cascara bark was once collected for its purgative properties. Several species are grown as garden ornamental plants.

The fruit is a 2 or 3 chambered berry.

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Rosaceae (Rose) -- The plant is herbs, shrubs, or trees with mostly prickly stems.

Swamp Rose
Rosa palustris

The flowers are usually bisexual in nature, radially symmetrical in form. There are five separate sepals and petals, or sometimes none. The stamens are numerous and separated, and each is attached at the edge of the cup (hypanthium). The pistils number 1 to many, with other parts of the flower sometimes attached at the top of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, usually consisting of one whole part, or may be compound, and usually with stipules at the base of the leaf stalk.

Fruit is dry or fleshy, opening at maturity or remaining closed.

There are about 100 genera and 3,000 species in this worldwide family. Apples, pears, quinces, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, loquats, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are important fruits. Numerous family members are grown as ornamental garden plants.

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Rubiaceae (Coffee or Madder) -- The Rubiaceae family is made up of herbs, shrubs, or trees, with flowers borne in a branched cluster.

Button Bush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

The flowers are usually radially symmetrical in form; with 4 or 5 united sepals, 4 or 5 united petals, and 4 or 5 stamens. All these parts are attached at the top of the ovary.

The leaves are opposite or whorled on the stem. The leaf base is often connected by a fused stipule that extends across the node, or the stipules will be large and leaf-like.

Fruit is usually a 2-chambered capsule or berry.

There are about 500 genera and 6,000 species, primarily of tropical regions. Madder (a dye), coffee, and quinine are obtained from the family. Gardenias are popular ornaments in mild climates.

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