views updated May 11 2018

Umbelliferae A family of dicotyledonous (see DICOTYLEDON) herbs, with a few shrubs, in which the alternate leaves are usually much divided, and have sheathing stalks at the base. The flowers are characteristically borne in umbels, which are usually compound, and have a tiny calyx of 5 teeth, or no calyx. There are 5 free petals, which are often notched and sometimes very unequal in size; 5 stamens alternating with the petals; and an inferior ovary of 2 fused carpels, which ripens into 2 separating, but indehiscent parts, which may remain suspended from the tip of the axis. The carpels each bear 5 (or sometimes 9) ridges, usually with 4 oil-canals (vittae) between the main ridges and 2 more on the inner faces. This large family contains many important food plants, e.g. Daucus (carrot), Pastinaca (parsnip), Apium (celery); while others are very poisonous, e.g. Oenanthe (water dropwort), or are useful medicinally. There are some 420 genera, with 3100 species, found throughout most of the world, but mainly in northern temperate regions.


views updated May 23 2018

umbelliferae Family of flowering plants, all of which have many small flowers borne in umbrella-like clusters (umbels) at the ends of stalks. Umbellifers are mainly herbs and shrubs. Many species are edible, including carrot, parsley, celery, parsnip, fennel, and dill.