Plant Family Identification - S

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

 

Salicaceae (Willow) -- The family is made up of aromatic trees and shrubs. Worldwide there only one known genera and about 350 species, mostly in northern temperate and arctic regions. There are 35 native and five natrualized tree species and about 60 native shrub species in North America.

Sandbar Willow
Silax nigra

The flowers are small, male and female on separate plants. Each flower is symmetrical in form and presented above a small scale, crowded in narrow catkins. The male flowers have cup-like disks or one or two glands one to 40 stamens. Female flowers have one pistil.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, consisting of one part, mostly toothed, with paired stipules.

Fruit is a capsule that opens in two or four parts, each containing many tiny seeds with cottony hairs

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Santalaceae (Toadflax or Sandlewood) -- This family is trees, shrubs, or herbs. Some members are parasitic on the roots of other species. The flowers are small and borne singly in the leaf axils or in clusters.

The flowers are symmetrical in form with four to five sepals that are often petal-like (no petals are present). Only one stamen is positioned opposite each sepal. All parts of the flowers are attached at the top of the ovary (ovary inferior).

The leaves are usually opposite on the stems, but may be alternate.

Fruit is a berry-like drupe or a small, hard, seed-like nut.

There are about 26 genera and some 600 species known worldwide, usually in warm temperate and tropical areas. In the United States, this family is best represented in the Southeast.

Tropical, sweet-scented, attractive Sandalwood is prized for cabinet work.

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Sapindaceae (Soapberry) -- There are about 1,500 species of trees, shrubs, and woody vines with tendrils; rarely herbs; in tropical and subtropical regions. Seven native tree species (three of woody vines and three of herbaceous vines) in north america.

Balloon Vine
Cardiospermum haliacababum

The leaves are alternate; generally pinnately compound, sometimes with three leaflets; without stipules (except in vines); the leaflets are usually alternate.

The flowers are numerous and small; in branched clusters; usually male and female on separate plants, or it may be bisexual in nature. Each flower is symmetrical in form, or occasionally irregular. There are five sepals; five petals, often with scale or glads at the interior base. Generally, there will be eight or 10 stamens inserted in a disk. One pistil is present having a superior ovary. Often there will be one or two ovules in conjunction with the cell and style.

Fruit is often a large, three-celled capsule, berry, drupe, or winged key. The seed is often covered with pulp. The fruit and seed of a few species are edible; those of some are poisonous.

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Sapotaceae (Sapodilla or Sapote) -- Trees and shrubs with white latex or milky sap.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple in form (one whole part); generally not toothed, thick and usually without stipules.

The flowers are small. The color is generally white, green, or light brown. The flowers may be crowded together or solitary and positioned at the base of the leaves or below the nodes. Each flower is bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form, with a hairy calyx of four to eight overlapping lobes. The corolla has a short tube and four to eight short lobes. The stamens are very short, generally four to eight to many inserted on the corolla opposite the lobes, and often with sterile stamens. There is one pistil with a superior ovary that contains four to five cells with one ovule and one short style.

The fruit is a berry with one (sometimes few) large elluptical shiny seed with large scar and milky pulp. The fruit of some plants is edible.

There are about 700 species, most in tropical and warm temperate regions; eight native and one naturalized tree and two native shrub species are found in North America.

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Sarraceniaceae (Pitcher Plant) -- These are carnivorous herbs with tubular leaves and large, nodding flowers borne singly or in racemes at the end of a long stalk.

Purple Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia purpurea

The flowers are symmetrical in form, four or five sepals that are often petal-like; five petals; 12 or more stamens. All parts are attached at the base of the ovary. The ovary is topped by an umprella-like style.

The leaves are basal, long, usually with a decorative opening to the tube.

The fruit is three to six chambers formed into a capsule.

There are three genera and about 17 species in North America and northern South America.


In the United States, all but one are in the East.

A few species are grown as curiosities (Venus Fly Trap), and collecting for this purpose threatens the rarest.

Several species are classified as endangered or threatened in many areas.

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Saururaceae (Lizard Tail) -- Herbs, mostly of moist places, with small flowers in dense spikes or racemes, often associated with colored bracts, wiuth the entire cluster resembling a single large flower.

Lizard's Tail
Saururus cernuus


The flowers are symmetrical in form; the calyx and corolla are absent; three, six, or eight stamens; three or four pistils that are sometimes partly joined at the base.

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

Fruit is a succulent capsule.

There are five known genera and about seven species, which occur in North America and eastern Asia.

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Saxifragaceae (Saxifrag) -- Usually herbs with small flowers borne in raceme-like or openly branched clusters.

Virginia Willow
Itea virginica

The flowers are symmetrical in form; five sepals, five or ten separated petals; five or ten stamens. All these parts are attached to the edge of the cup-like flower base (hypanthium), with the ovary in the center.

The leaves are usually alternate, and basal.

Fruit is a capsule, small pod, or a berry.

There are about 30 genera and some 580 known species occurring mainly in cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Species of Saxifrage, Bernonia, and Astilbe are commonly grown as ornamental plants.

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Scrophulariaceae (Figwort or Snapdragon) -- These plants are mostly herbs, sometimes shrubs, rarely threes, often with showy flowers.

Purple Gerardia
Agalinas purpurea

The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical in form, four or five united sepals, four or five united petlas, usually forming a corolla with upper and lower lips; four stamens are standard, but sometimes only two or as many as five will be seen. The fifth is often sterile and different from the rest. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are alternate, opposite, or whorled about the stem; simple in form or pinnately divided.

Fruit is a two-chambered capsule or berry.

Worldwide there are about 220 genera and some 3,000 species. A very useful heart medicine is extracted from some plants. Many are cultivated as ornamental garden plants.

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Solanaceae (Nightshade) -- Herbs, shrubs, vines, or trees with showy flowers, generally in branched clusters.

Horse Nettle
Solanum carolinense

The flowers are radially symmetrical in form; five united sepals, five united petals, and five stamens (sometimes fewer). All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are simple (one part) and alternate on the stem.

Fruit is a berry or a two-chambered capsule.

There exists about 85 genera and some 2,300 species in tropical and warm temperate regions, especially in Central and South America.

Several members of the family are poisonous, but others supply food such as chili, bell pepper, tomato, potato, eggplant, and groundcherry. Tobacco comes from the family. Many members of the family are cultivated as garden ornamental plants.

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Sparganiaceae (Burr-Reed) -- These are aquatic or marsh herbs with grass-like leaves, and small flowers densely crowded into globose heads in or above the axils of bract-like leaves.

Burr-Reed
Sparganium americanum

The flowers are unisexual (male and female on separate plants). The flowers have no petals or sepals, but may have a few chaffy scales. The stamens usually number five and pistil is one.

The leaves are alternate, positioned on opposite sides of the stem and therefore two-ranked, sheathing the stem at the base.

Fruit is seed-like, many together in bur-like masses.

There is only one known genera with about 15 species occurring in temperate and cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The plant is also known in Australia and New Zealand.

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Sterculiaceae (Cocao) -- The family is made up of trees, shrubs, or herbs comprising about 65 genera and 1,000 species that are characterized by stiff hairs on the stems.

Chocolate Weed
Melochia corchorifolia

The flowers are bisexual in nature, or occasionally male and female flowers appear on separate plants (unisexual). The perianth is usually three to five parts, with cone-like sepals, but sometimes an equal number of petals are also present. The flowers most often consist of two whorls of five stamens each, these united by the filaments into a tube that surrounds the ovary. The flower consists of a single compound pistil of usually four or five carpels, and an equal number of cone-like styles. The ovary is superior.

The leaves are alternate and simple or infrequently presented with palm-like lobes or may be compound. The stipules are present but may be shed early.

The fruit is variable; sometimes the carpels are completely distinct at maturity.

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Styracaceae (Storax or Snowbell) -- These are mostly small, sometimes large, trees and shrubs.

Silverbell
Halesia diptera

The flowers are often showy and presented in racemes. Each flower is bisexual in nature, symmetrical in form, with four or five teeth on the calyx. the calyx usually persists after the fruit is formed. The corolla is white with a short tube; four to six separate lobes, eight to 12 stamens (double the number of lobes) united toward the base on the corolla. One pistil with a superior or partially inferior ovary. Look for two to many ovulesm one style and one to five stigmas.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, simple in form, with or without teeth that are thick or thin, with star-shaped or scaly hairs on both sides. There are no leaf stipules.

Fruit is a one-seeded drupe or capsule.

There are about 150 species in tropical and warm temperate regions; six native tree species and three native shrub species are found in North America.

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Symplocaceae (Sweetleaf) -- These are generally small, but sometimes large, trees and shrubs.

The flowers are small, crowded in clusters, bisexual in nature and symmetrical in form, with a five-toothed calyx persisting at the tip of the fruit. The corolla is white with five to 10 lobes divided almost to the base, usually many stamens are inserted in the tube and unbited in groups; one pistil is borne in the inferior ovary, containing two to five cells of two ovules each. There is one style and one stigma, often two to five lobed.

The leaves are alternate, one part, thick, no teeth or toothed, generally hairless and shiny, often yellowish. There are no stipules and very short leafstalk.

Fruit is an elliptical drupe or berry with a ring and calyx at the tip.

There are about 350 species and nearly all are in the Sweetleaf genus, in tropical and subtropical Asia and America. One native tree species is found in the southeastern United States.

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