views updated

Caryophyllaceae A family, mostly of herbs, in which the leaves are simple, opposite, normally entire, and exstipulate. The flowers are usually borne in terminal, forked cymes (dichasia) with a central flower in each fork; they are regular, with usually 4 or 5 free petals, 4 or 5 stamens, or twice as many stamens as petals, and a superior ovary which is syncarpous, 1-celled with many ovules on a free central placenta, and has 2 to 5 styles. The fruit is usually a capsule. Some genera (Dianthus, Saponaria, etc.) are much cultivated for the flowers. There are 89 genera, with about 2070 species, most of them found in the northern temperate region.