The small, radially symmetrical, 5-petaled flowers are borne in umbels (umbrella-shaped clusters). These umbels are usually compound, with each branch of the primary umbel supporting the secondary umbels. The alternate leaves are mostly pinnately compound. The leaf stalk forms a sheath around the hollow stem.

Carrots, celery and parsnips are members of the family, as are parsley, dill, coriander, caraway and anise. Some species are very poisonous, Poison hemlock having been the drink given to Socrates.


The bilaterally symmetrical flowers have 5 petals. The lowest 2 are joined to form the "keel", the side pair are "wings", and the upper petal is the "banner". The leaves are usually alternate and compound and have stipules. Tendrils are often present.

This is a large and agriculturally important family. Beans, peas, soybeans, lentils, peanuts, alfalfa and clover are examples. Gum arabic is obtained from the genus Acacia.


Peonies are large perennial plants with compound deeply lobed leaves. The large, often fragrant flowers are most commonly red or white and have many petals. They bloom in late spring or early summer. Peonies are native to Asia, southern Europe, and western US. They are named for Paeon, a student of Asclepias the Greek god of medicine who became jealous of him. Zeus rescued him by turning him into a flower.


The showy radially symmetrical flowers are in branching clusters. The slender corolla tube divides into 5 spreading lobes, there are 5 sepals, and the 5 stamens are hidden in the corolla tube. The leaves are usually alternate, simple and undivided, but are pinnately compound in the Polemonium genus. The flowers of that genus are bell-shaped and drooping.


The plants are found in mud or shallow water. The more or less bilaterally symmetrical flowers are in spikes (or are solitary) and have 6 petals/sepals. The alternate, glossy green leaves are on long stalks.


The pines are mostly evergreen, resinous trees or bushes with needle-like leaves. Neither male nor female “flowers” have petals or sepals and both are in catkin-like clusters. The male catkins are made up of tightly packed stamens that shed clouds of pollen when disturbed. The female catkins mature into cones that have cone scales and contain winged seeds. Species of 3 evergreen genera are common in our area: The pines proper (Pinus genus) are trees with branches in whorls, needle-like leaves in clusters of 2-5 and cones with woody scales; spruces (Picea genus), with more or less 4-sided needles, singly arranged all around twigs, and cones with relatively thin scales; and hemlock (Tsuga genus), with flat needles in 2 rows and small cones with relatively thin scales. The other genera are locally rare: Larches (Larix genus) with short deciduous needles and small upright cones; and firs (Abies genus), with smooth to scaly bark, short needles and erect cones that disintegrate before they fall from the tree.


The radially symmetrical flowers are single or arranged in clusters. There are 5 petals, usually notched or fringed at the tips, and sometimes so deeply divided as to suggest 10 petals. The calyx tube may be swollen. The opposite, simple leaves are not toothed. The stem nodes may be swollen.


The tiny flowers are in crowded heads borne on a leafless stalk. There are 4 papery sepals and petals. The stamens protrude well beyond the very small flowers. The leaves are in a basal rosette.


The one species in our area is a large, branched plant with 5 united petal-like sepals and no petals. The stemmed white flowers are racemes, and the alternate leaves are large and smooth edged. The seeds are enclosed in red-stemmed, dark purple berries.

The berries and roots are poisonous but the juice has been used as a dye.


In the Poppy subfamily (Papaveroideae) the showy, radially symmetrical flowers have 4-12 petals and 2 sepals. The leaves are lobed and the sap is milky or colored.

The Bleeding heart subfamily (Fumarioideae) has more or less bilaterally symmetrical flowers that are often spurred. The alternate leaves are often deeply divided.


The radially symmetrical flowers have 5 sepals and 5 petals. The 5 stamens are opposite the petals rather than between them, an unusual arrangement in flowers with 5 petals. The flowers are usually flat, but in the genus Dodecatheon the petals are sweptback and the stamens are united in a beak. The simple leaves are often whorled but may be opposite or basal.


These small plants have radially symmetrical flowers with 2 sepals and 5 often evanescent petals. The 5 stamens are opposite the petals. The flowers are single or in branched clusters. The simple leaves are smooth edged and may be alternate or opposite.