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.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


ANACARDIACEAE (Mango or Cashew nut family)
Mostly in tropical areas while some in temperate regions.

Common examples are
Mango :Mangifera indica
Cashew nut :
Anacardium occidentale

Pistachio nut :Pistacia vera
Sumac :Rhus sp.
Lannea coromandelica

Semecarpus anacardium ( बीब्बा)

Buchanania lanzan (Chironji)

Vegetative Characters: Shrubs or trees, often with milky and acrid juice.Bark is usually resinous.
Leaves alternate,sometimes opposite (Bouea), exstipulate,simple or 1-3 foliate or pinnately compound.
Flowers and Inflorescence:
Inflorescences are various but usually the numerous small flowers are arranged in axillary and terminal pannicles.Flowers are bracteate,actinomorphic,unisexual or polygynous or less frequently hermaphrodite(e.g.Buchnania) and hypogynous or rarely perigynous. Calyx: 3-5 sepals-Various degrres of fusion.Corolla : 3-5 petals-free or adnate to the discs.v Rarely petals are absent as in Pistacias. Androecium shows much variation. Stamens are twice or as many as petals or rarely more. In Spondias and Buchnanias 10 fertile stamens in two alternate whorls. In anacardium two whorls with all or few fertile stamens.In several species of Rhus only one whorl of 5 stamens is seen. In Mangifera 1-5 stamens present of these only one is fertile.
Nectariferous disc is usually present between stamens and petal- flat/cup shaped/annular; entire or lobed. Absent in Pistacia.
The number of carpels varies from 1-5. The gynoecium has frequently three fused carpels with unilocular ovary with single pendulous ovule. Styles three :free or curvate with simple or capitate stigmas.
Fruit : usually a drupe with resinous mesocarp.
Pollination and seed dispersal :
Large inflorescence of small flowers,secretye nectar in abundance and accessible to insects with small proboscis. In Rhus pollination is by flies.
Most of the members of the family are dispersed by birds and a few such as Parishia and sweitonia which have winged fruits are modified for wind dispersal. Mangifera with its luscious fruits is dispersed by human agency or by animals.
Mangifera indica(Mango):widely cultivated in tropical asia for its prized dessert fruit with aromatic flesh.Unripe fruits are used for pickles.
Anacardium occidentale (Cashew nut): Native of tropical America and naturalized in Asia.The kernels are eaten raw or fried. Fruit juice is fermented and made into wine (FENI) The gum posseses insecticidal properties.
Pistacia vera (Pistachio nut) : Found in Afganistan. The nuts are edible and used in sweet-meats and cofectionary and icecreams.
Semecarpus anacardium (Bibba, Marking nut,Dhobis-nut) : Pericarp of the fruit is largely used for dyeing textiles. A blank ink obtained from the nuts is used for marking clothes.
Lannea coromandelica (Moi) : syn. Odina woodier......often pronounced as Oh-Diana Oh- Dear is found throughout hotter parts of India.Yellowish white gum obtained from the bark is used in calico printing.
Rhus parviflora :Fruits sold in the market under the name of Tatri are used as tamarinds.
Many species provide useful timber.
Buchanania lanzan: Chironji-a dry fruit

Thursday, 14 February 2008


ARACEAE or Arum Family
This family is a from Monocot.
Members are all herbs long been cultivated by man and used as vegetables.
Vegetative characters:Mostly perennial, terrestrial and tuberous herbs and climbing shrubs rooting on trees.Others are true epiphytes without connection with the soil. Some like Acorus and Lasia are marsh plants and Pistia is a floating aquatic herb.
In plants without aerial stems underground stems are developed in the form of root stocks,tubers or corms.The aerial stem when present shows monopodial branching as in Pothos,but usually it is sympodial.
The roots are adventitious.Two types of aerial roots: climbing and absorbent.
The Leaves are basal(e.g. Arisaema) or cauline and alternate(e.g.Pothos) and simple or sometimes compound as in (e.g. Arisaema).There is only a single leaf in some species of Arisaema. The leaves have a petiole,often large usually parallel veined and with membranous sheathing bases.
The plants are with milky or watery bitter sap.The crystals of calcium oxalate are usually present in the plant tissues.
Inflorescence and flowers:
Simple spadix enclosed by a herbaceous spathe-often large and bright.
The male flowers are generally at the top of the spadix and the female below.
The flowers are small ,ebracteate,bi or unisexual.actinomorphic and hypo or epigynous.Peiranth when present is of 4 to 6 segments in two equal series.Androecium has 2,4,or6 stamens opposite the perianth segments. The gynoecium is of one or more syncarpous carpels.
The fruit is usually a berry.The seeds are with copious endosperm.
The flowers are mostly pollinated with insects visiting them.
Examples and importance:
The corms and tubers are used as vegetables while some are grown for ornament for hte foliage.
Colocasia esculenta (AALU in Marathi)(syn.C. antiquorium)TARO :Cultivated for edible tubers.
Alocasia: use similar to above.
Amorphophallus campanulatus:(Suran In Marathi,Yam, Blume)again a vegetable.
Anthurium andreanum : Popular in flower arrangement.
Caladium: A garden plant.
Pistia stratiotes: a smallfloating herbgrown in aquaria and warm water gardens.

Friday, 8 February 2008


Ceropegia vincaefolia

Ceropegia bulbosa var.lushii

Ceropegia bulbosa var.bulbosa
Ceropegia maccannii
Ceropegia media

Ceropegia oculata

 Ceropegia sahyadrica

Holostemma ada-kodien

(Milkweed family)
This family is very closely related to last week’s family Apocyanaceae. There are around 250 species in India.
The familiar examples are :
Mandar(Rui) Calotropis :Western and central India
Milkweed :Weed in most part of India
Tylophora Indica : Bengal and Assam
Vegetative characters : Perennial herbs (e.g.Asclepias) or shrubs (e.g.Calotropis) or woody climbers( e.g.Tylophora,Daemia).
Sometimes plants are succulent (Hoya) or xerophytic with cactus like habitat (Stapelia)
A perennial rootstock is commonly present and sometimes the roots are fleshy or tuberous. Plant contains a milky juice present in long branching laticiferous tubes.
Leaves are opposite decussate or rarely alternate, simple, entire and exstipulate.
Inflorescence is usually dichasial cyme arising in leaf axil or sometimes it is racemose or umbellate as in Asclepias and Calotropis. Flowers are perfect, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, pentamerous and hypogynous. Calyx has five sepals united below to form a short calyx tube. Corolla is gamopetalous and usually five clefted or lobed but sometimes it is campanulate(e.g.Gymnema) or funnelform (e.g. Cryptostegia).
In Ceropegia the straight or curved corolla tube is swollen at the base. Corolla tube is often with a corona which is often in the form of ring of hairs scales or processes. Stamens are five, epipetalous. Gynoecium is bicarpellary. Ovaries are of two carpels free and so also their styles which are united by their apices and dilate to form a pellate stigma with five lateral stigmatic surfaces.
Fruit is of two follicles which are close together or divergent.
Seeds are flattened and commonly bear a terminal tuft of long silky hairs.
The flowers are perfectly adapted for insect pollination and seed dispersal is by wind.
Examples and economic importance:
Figure 1 Calotropis: Mandar or Rui :used in tanning industry.
Figure2 Milkweed Asclepius curassavica
Figure3 Pergularia daemia
Figure 4Wattakaka volubilis flowers
Figure5 Wattakaka volubilis fruit with seeds bearing hair tufts
Cryptolepis buchnani
Tylophora indica :roots are used in the treatment of Asthma,bronchitis etc.