Sunday, 24 February 2008



The earlier name Umbelliferae derives from the inflorescence which is in the form of a compound
Most abundant in north temperate zone.In India mostly in temperate and alpine Himalayas but some are also cultivated in warmer parts.
The common examples are Coriander(coriandrum sativum). Carrot ( Daucus carota) Fennel(Foeniculum vulgare) and Brahmi (Centella asiatica)
Vegetative characters:
Mostly Herbs biennial or perennial or sometimes annual. Species of Centella are small prostrate herbs rooting at the nodes, but mostly they are with stout erect stems with hollow internodes. Species of Angelica attain a height of upto four meters.
The stems are usually furrowed.
The plants usually have aromatic smell due to presence of essential oil or resin in all organs.
The leaves are alternate,rarely simple(Centella) but generally the are pinnately compound or decompound. Stipules are generally absent.The petioles is often swollen and sheathing at the base.
Flowers and Inflorescence:
As the name of the family suggests, the
umbel inflorescence is the characteristic of the family
Most commonly it is a compound umbel.The primary umbel is surrounded at its base by an involucre of bracts. The flowers are small,actinomorphic,hermaphrodite or sometimes unisexual or polygamous,pentamerous and epigynous.The calyx is represented usually by five inconspicuous teeth or a narrow circular ridge at the top of the ovary. The corolla is of five distinct petals alternating with the sepals. The petals are inflexed and fall off soon.The androecium is of five distinct stamens alternating with the petals.They arise from epigynous disc. The filaments are inflexed and the anthers are basi or dorsifixed,dithecous,introrse and opening lengthwise.
Thje gynoecium is bicarpellary and syncarpous with witha an inferior bilocular ovary.Epigynous disc is prolonged in to two styles.
Fruits and seeds:Fruit is a schizocarp.The seed has a hard oily endosperm and a small embryo.
Pollination and dispersal:Aggregation of small flowers into dense inflorescence amkes it conspicuous for insects and aids pollination.Open nectar situation:so accessible to even short tongued insects.Smell of ethereal oils and resins:marked influence on bees.
Mericarps of the seeds :marked by ridges and bristles:-dispersal by birds and animals.
Chiefly vegetables , condiments,volatile oils and ornamentals.
Daucus carota L. (Carrot,गाजर)fleshy tap roots used as vegetable.
Apium graveolens L. (Celery)again a vegetable
Pastinaca sativa(Parsnip)Thickened tap root as vegetable
The seeds of many species are used as spice and condiments for culinary purposes and in confectionary
Coriandrum sativum (Coriander,
Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel, saunf बडीशेप)
Cuminum cyminum (Cumin,जीरा)
Ferula asafoetida .The dried latex obtained after making incisions in living root stocks and roots is the source of Asafoetida (हींग) of commerce. It is used as condiment for flavoring curries etc.
Centella asiatica Syn.Hydrocotyl asiatica( ब्राह्मी) Diuretic and medicinal properties,insecticidal also.
Some species of Pimpinella ,Heracleum and Angelica are grown as ornamentals.

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