Trees or shrubs with alternate, lobed, smooth-edged leaves with large stipules. The large, solitary, radially symmetrical flowers have 3 sepals and 6 petals (or more, usually in multiples of 3). The fruit is a dry or fleshy cone.


Mallows may be velvety, and have showy, radially symmetrical flowers with 5 wide petals and 6 sepals. The flowers occur singly or in branched clusters. The numerous stamens are united. The alternate, simple leaves are often palmately lobed.

Cultivated flowers in the mallow family include hollyhocks and hibiscus. Okra and cotton are mallows.


Trees or bushes with opposite, long-stalked, palmately lobed and veined leaves. The sap is milky in some species. The small flowers are in branched clusters and have 4 or 5 sepals and 4 or 5 overlapping petals. The fruit is a pair of flat, long-winged, 1-seeded keys.


Milkweeds have a thick milky sap and a unique flower plan. There are 5 sweptback petals and a 5-parted cup, or crown, with 5 beaks that curve centrally toward the stamens and a pistil. The radially symmetrical flowers are in umbels, often drooping. The paired seedpods are often joined at the base, and the seeds are attached to flossy tufts.


The bilaterally symmetrical flowers have 5 united sepals and a tubular corolla with 2 lips, the upper 2-lobed and the lower 3-lobed. There are 2 to 4 stamens and 1 forked style. The flowers are in terminal heads, racemes or spikes, or in interrupted whorls in the leaf axils. The opposite leaves are simple and may be toothed. The stems are square. Some mints are aromatic.

Many condiments come from members of this family, including oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, basil and mint. Catnip, peppermint, spearmint and sage are also mints.


Woody, twining vines with broad, alternate leaves that may be lobed. The inconspicuous, radially symmetrical flowers are in clusters and usually have 6 petals and 6 larger petal-like sepals. Fruit is a 1 seeded berry. Only 1 species in our area.


Mostly climbing vines with showy, radially symmetrical, bell shaped flowers that have 5 sepals and 5 nearly completely united petals. The alternate, simple leaves are not toothed and usually have stems. The genus Cuscuta (dodder) contains parasitic vines with tiny flowers but no leaves or chlorophyll.

The sweet potato is a morning glory family member.


This family is mostly tropical and subtropical and includes the mulberries (Morus genus) and figs. The trees have alternate simple leaves that are toothed and/or lobed. The tiny flowers are in separate male and female clusters and have no petals. There are usually 4 sepals. The fruit is a tight cluster of berries, sometimes edible.


The flowers are radially symmetrical and the Latin family name Cruciferae describes the cross-like appearance of the 4 petals. There are 4 sepals and usually 6 stamens, 2 shorter than the other 4. The flowers are in racemes or branched clusters. The leaves are usually simple but may be pinnately compound. The seedpods are often long and slender but may be broad or oval, and are perpendicular to the stem to nearly upright. The sap may have a peppery taste.

Cabbages, turnips and radishes are members of the mustard family.