Three plant families you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
Among the numerous taxonomic groups described by scientists in the last 300 years, families of flowering plants hold the distinct place. They were established in collaborative efforts of French botanists, namely Michel Adanson and Antoine Jussieu. Adanson based his research on methods which are now frequently called “bioinformatics” and therefore was long ahead of his time. Jussieu proved Adan-son’s ideas by establishing the living garden where plants were arranged by these families. At first, families were not accepted by “fathers of botany” like Carolus Linnaeus. But with time, more and more facts were accumulated which support the ideas enclosed in the families differentiation. The most amazing was almost absolute support of plant families concepts with new molecular methods. Many groups which looked stable (like orders of birds and mammals) appeared less robust than plant families. This is why plant families are so important.
Practically, families provide a great help in knowing plants. For example, the flora of whole North America has 20,000 species of plants. It is almost impossi-ble to remember them all. However, there are only 200 plant families in North America. Therefore, knowing the family saves lots of time and efforts in plant determination.
Several plant families are especially important since they play a big role in eco-nomics, form widespread types of vegetation, or are simply extremely rich in species. Three of these families will be characterized below. Characterization of family should follows the plan below:
1. Meta-information: name, position in classification, number of species, distribution
2. Ecological preferences
3. Morphology and anatomy of stem, leaf and root
4. Generative organs from inflorescence to fruit, including flower diagrams and formulas. Seed.
5. Representatives and their importance