Why do we have family names?
The Science Background: Naming a Plant
Family names are a way that plants of similar characteristics can be grouped together by taxonomists. The major considerations are the morphology (shape) of flowers and leaves and genetics. Occasionally plants are moved from one family to another when more information becomes available. All plants in the Malvaceae (Hibiscus) family have stamens fused to the pistils. A defining characteristic of the Lamiaceae<(mint) family is square stems with flowers in racemes (a spike with many flowers). Most family names end in “aceae”. Family names are capitalized, but not placed in italics. Wikipedia contains good articles about each of the plant families.
The Plants in the Discovery Garden
Of the seventeen plant species in the Discovery Garden, there are fifteen families represented. Here is a chart of the plants with a partial taxonomy for each, from the scientific name to the family. Naturally, common names are included.
|Family||Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis family)||Society Garlic||Tulbaghia violacea|
|Apocynaceae (Dogbane family includes oleander, periwinkle, mandivilla, and plumeria.)||Butterfly Weed||Asclepias tuberosa|
|Cactaceae (cactus family)||Prickly Pear||Opuntia ellisiana|
|Fabaceae (Legume, pea, or bean family. The Bluebonnet is in this family.)||Texas Mountain Laurel||Sophora secundiflora|
|Fagaceae (beech tree family)||Live Oak||Quercus virginiana|
|Lamiaceae (mint & many herbs are in this family)||Salvia||Salvia coccinea|
|Lamiaceae||Beauty Berry||Callicarpa americana|
|Lythraceae (Crape myrtle is in this family.)||Pomegranate||Punica granatum|
|Malvaceae (Hibiscus and other well-know plants in this family are okra, cotton, and coco.)||Texas Star Hibiscus||Hibiscus coccineus|
|Plantaginaceae, the plantain family||Firecracker Plant||Russelia equisetiformis|
|Poaceae (true grasses)||Muhly Grass||Muhlenbergia capillaris|
|Rosaceae (rose, includes many fruit trees)||Flowering Quince||Chaenomeles speciosa|
|Rubiaceae (coffee family)||Firebush||Hamelia patens|
|Verbenaceae (verbena family)||Lantana||Lantana camara|
|Xanthorrhoeaceae (Aloes and daylilies are in this family.)||Flax Lily||Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’|