The flowers have 4 long, narrow petals, all on the upper half of the bloom. The stamens are even longer than the petals. The alternate leaves are simple or palmate. There are only a few local species, the family being mostly a tropical one.

"Capers" are the pickled buds of Capparis spinosa, a Mediterranean shrub.


The leaves of these small plants are mostly opposite but may be alternate or whorled and are often succulent. The radially symmetrical flowers have no petals, 4 or 5 sepals and a variable number of stamens. The fruit is usually a capsule. Mostly a tropical family.


These plants are mostly bushes or small trees with milky or resinous juice, but may be vines. The small, radially symmetrical flowers usually have 5 petals, 5 sepals, and 5 or 10 stamens. The alternate leaves are simple or compound and the fruits are berry-like.

Examples include sumacs, poison ivy, cashew and pistachio nuts, mangos.


Cattails have tall slender stems with a cylindrical head of tightly packed pistillate (female) flowers. A narrow spike of staminate (male) flowers extends from the top of the head but withers after pollination. The "flowers" are minute and lack sepals and petals. The stamens and pistils are surrounded by hairs that become long and fluffy when ripe, and can float long distances with the tiny seeds. The long narrow leaves sheathe the lower stem. Found in swamps and other wet areas. There are only 4 species in our area.


Small perennial evergreen plants with crowded pine needle-like or flattened cedar-like leaves. Most species have horizontal stems spreading widely above or below ground and giving rise to vertical stems. There are no flowers or seeds, but enormous numbers of tiny spores are produced, often in upright cones. The most rapid form of propagation is by rooting of the horizontal stems. (Spores take several years to develop into plants.)
The ground pines (Lycopodium genus) have pine needle-like leaves, the ground cedars (Diphasiastrum genus) have flattened, cedar-like leaves, and Huperzia genus plants are in clumps, have no horizontal stems, and do not have cones. Clubmosses and their relatives the horsetails and ferns are small descendants of once huge plants that lived in the Paleozoic Era hundreds of millions of years ago, populating vast forests that laid down beds of organic debris that were geologically transformed into today''s coal seams. (The now dominant flowering plants were then non-existent.)


This is the largest and youngest of all the flower families. It is so named because each "flower" is really a composite of many smaller flowers. The typical composite is radially symmetrical and has tiny tubular flowers in a central disc, surrounded by flat ray flowers. There is no calyx, and either disc or ray flowers may be absent. The flowers are supported by small leaflets or "bracts". The leaves may be alternate, opposite, or whorled, and may be simple or compound. The seeds may have bristles or soft hairs to aid in their dispersal.

As an aid to identification, the composites have been arranged in nine sub-groups: Aster like, sunflower-like, dandelion-like, the goldenrods, the lettuces, Joe-Pye-weed-like, thistle-like, no obvious symmetry and miscellaneous.


A mainly topical family with only 1 genus represented locally (Asimina). Members are small to medium size trees and shrubs. The alternate, simple, smooth-edged leaves have an unpleasant odor when crushed. The radially symmetrical flowers are solitary and have 3 sepals and 6 petals in 2 series. The banana-like fruit is large, cylindrical, pulpy and several-seeded.


Evergreen trees and bushes including the cypresses (Cupressus genus); junipers (Juniperus genus), with scaly or hollow 3-sided needles and berrylike fruit; and some cedars (Thuja genus), with flattened scalelike leaves and small upright cones. (True cedars, such as Cedar of Lebanon, are pines in the old world genus cedrus.)