The Top British Plant Families Young Darwin 2012 Sue Townsend Biodiversity Learning Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Clare O’Reilly email@example.com
About 60-70% of flowering plants in Britain are in about 15 families. (there are over 140 families in the British flora 600+ worldwide!!) • So learning families can be short cut to using any key • There are some quick gains to learn on similarities & differences in some common plant families Facts………
12 easy to spot families which will cover most of what you need to raise confidence and get a bit of botanical know-how. • Excludes tree families ( as they are not my favourites – and family ID isn’t always the quickest route to trees!) Sue’s top 12
Regular or irregular flower? • Carpels free or fused? • Type of ovary? • Is it a grass?!! Basic Botany to get you started..
ZYGOMORPHIC ACTINOMORPHIC REGULAR FLOWER With RADIAL SYMETRY IRREGULAR FLOWER With SYMETRY in one plane only Regular or irregular flowers?
You have two plants in front of you • One is a pink flower • It is a Herb Robert • One is Orange or white • It is Monbretia/White deadnettle Are they both regular?
Carpels Free or FusedThere are two plants in front of you... • One has mostly gone over and white • It is Hogweed • One was yellow and the pink one is the same family • It is a Wood Avens or Japanese Anenome • Remember 1 carpel = stigma, style plus ovary Tear them gently apart – find their carpels – are they fused?
Ovaries Superior or Inferior?There are two plants in front of you... • One is pale yellow with shrivelled flowers • It’s an evening primrose • One is yellow with regular flowers • - It’s a Buttercup Find the stigma and trace them back to find the ovary – is it above where the petals join?
Sue’s top 12 • Buttercup • Campion • Cabbage • Rose • Pea • Carrot • Deadnettle • Figwort • Campion • Daisy • Lily • Grass
Many free petals & sepals (often tepals) stamens & carpels • Superior ovary • Fr achenes = single seeded dry indehiscent (unsplitting) fruit; or • Fr follicles = dry dehiscent with many seeds 1. Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Petals, sepals usually 5 (sometimes absent) • Stamens 5-10 • Superior ovary • Opposite lvs • Fr capsule 2. Caryophyllaceae (Campion family)
4 petals & sepals in ‘cross’ hence ‘crucifer’ • Stamens 4-6 • Superior ovary • Alternate lvs • Fr usually of 2 fused carpels 3. Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)
Usually 5 free petals and sepals • Stamens 5 to many • Stipules usually present • Epicalyx often present • Trees, shrubs, herbs 4. Rosaceae (Rose family)
5. Fabaceae (Pea family) • Distinctive Irregular flower • Leaves often trifoliate – sometimes pinnate. • Varies in size eg Laburnum or vetch.
6. The Apiaceae (used to be called the umbelliferae) Very distinctive family with white or cream flowers held up on ‘umberellas’ ptyxis ecology firstname.lastname@example.org
Square stem • Opposite lvs • Irregular flower • Superior ovary forming 4 nutlets • Often aromatic 7. Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle family)
Square stem • Opposite lvs or alternate lvs or both • Irregular flower • 2-part superior ovary forming capsule 8. Scrophulariaceae (Figwort family)
9. Asteraceae (Daisy family) • Composite flower • Made up of small florets held on a receptacle. • Opposite lvsor alternate lvsor both • Irregular flower • 2-part superior ovary forming capsule
10. Liliaceae (Lily family) • Usually parallel leaf veins • Regular flower • Flower parts in 3s or 6s, tepals only • Superior ovary (mostly)
11. Orchidaceae (Orchid family) • Usually parallel leaf veins • Irregular flower • Flower parts in 2 whorls – outer sepals and inner petals – one petal forming a distinct lip • Inferior ovary
12. Poaceae (Grass family) • Parallel leaf veins • Flower with glumes and lemmas • Distinctive features are ligules the way the stem is sheathed by the leaf and whether the leaf is folded or rolled when young.
Plants as indicator species • Plants tell us something about their environment eg • Heather Acid soil • Creeping Buttercup Wet Ground • Tall Oat Grass Neglected • Yellowort Calcareous To find out more – you can use a scoring system developed by a German botany professor – the Ellenburg Values.
Learning the families enables you to short-cut in the keys • There are lots you can find out by using plants as indicator species • They provide habitat/food/egg laying sites for literally hundreds of species • A little knowledge give some confidence in where to find out more • They are the base of our foodchains Final Thoughts
Further Information www.bsbi.org.uk www-saps.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/trees/index.htm Website with descriptions of the ecology of many UK species http://www.ecoflora.co.uk/ http://www.ceh.ac.uk/products/publications/untitled.html Direct links for free download of Ellenburg values
Pages from our website... • Individuals & Families 2012| Natural History • Flowers and Other Plants • This section introduces the courses offered on the plant kingdom throughout the FSC. However, as you will see from the list of course titles, this phrase is interpreted fairly liberally and includes ‘for convenience’ groups such as lichens and fungi, as well as the flowering plants. http://www.field-studies-council.org/2012/flowersandplants/plant_identification_courses.aspx