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FAMILY APIACEAE (UMBELLIFERE)
It is also known as umbellifere because the main feature of this family is umbel
inflorescence. There are about 200 genera and 2900 species in this family.
DISTRIBUTION: They are cosmopolitan in their distribution but mostly found
in temperate regions. The area between a pole in a tropic is known as temperate
region. The defining characteristic of the temperate regions is the fact that they
have all the four seasons. However they are also found in tropical regions. But in
tropical regions they are found in hilly areas and are generally cultivated in
winter. As Pakistan is present in north temperate region approximately all the
species of apiaceae are found in Pakistan.
HABIT: Majority of them are annual (complete their biological life cycle in one year).
Some of them are biennial (complete their biological cycle in two years) while some of
them are perennial (take more than two years to complete their biological cycle). They are
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generally herbs but sometime shrubs and under shrubs are also found. Under
shrubs are dwarf shrubs which are woody at the base.
Root: They have Tap and branched root. Daucus carota (carrot) is its typical
Stem: stem is erect, rarely climbing, and herbaceous; nodes are swollen, usually
fistular. Fistular is the stem which has hollow internodes.
Leaf: They have alternate leaf. The leaf is extipulate (no stipule). Much dissected
(contain many partitions). Rarely opposite as in Apiastrum i.e. Apiastrum
angustifolium (mock parsley).
INFLORESCENCE: They have umbel inflorescence. The umbel may be simple
as in Hydrocotyle (water pennywort) or it may be compound as in coriandrum
sativum (coriander). In compound umbel an involucre of bract is present at the
top of the main axis from where the umbel arises. At the base of each umbel
involucel of bract is found and at the base of each flower bract is found.
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FLOWER: Flower is hermaphrodite (bisexual). Sometime unisexual. The flower
is small, actinomorphic (having radial symmetery), epigynous, pentamerous,
pedicellate, bracteate, complete.
CALYX: The calyx consist of 5 sepals. Which are very minute and fused. In some
cases the calyx is absent i.e. foeniculum vulgare (aniseed or saunf).
CORROLA: The corrola consist of 5 petals which are free. The petal is bifid
(divided into two parts) as in coriandrum sativum.
ANDROECIUM: Androecium consist of 5 stamens alternating with petals. They
are free. Anther is bilobed which means having two lobes. Anthers are introse
means facing inside. They may be basifixed (fixed to the stalk at base) or
dorsifixed (fixed to the stalk at dorsal side).
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GYNOECIUM: The gynoecium is bicarpellary. It is syncarpous (carpels are
united). The ovary is epigynous (inferior) and bilocular (consist of two locules).
Each loculus have single pendulous ovule (hanged ovule like a pendulum).
Placentation is axile (ovule is present at the tip of placenta).
FRUIT: Fruit is generally cremocarp which splits into two mericarp each
containing a seed.
SEED: The seed is endospermic.
POLLINATION: Insects pollinating plants.
FLORAL FORMULA: ⊕ k (5), C5, A5, G(2)
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SOURCE OF FOOD: Carrots (Daucus carota), celery (Apium graveolens),
parsely (Petroselinum sativum) are used as vegetables and are source of food.
FODDER: Many members of the family such as Heracleum species. (cow-
parsnip), Angelica species. (Angelecas), carrots, wild parsely, etc are used as
fodder plants for animals.
Condiments: Ferula (Hing), Carum (Ajwain), Cuminum (Zeera), Foeniculum
(Saunf) and coriandum (dhania) are used as condiments or carminatives. Bark,
leaves and fruits of certain plants provides volatile oils, resins etc.
SOURCE OF MEDICINES: Ligusticum (Lovage), Asafoetida (Hing), Foeniculum
(saunf), Anetum (sowa) are used as drugs for digestive disorders. Hydrocotyle
(Brahmi) is useful for brain work.
POISONS: several members of the family such as conicum (Hemlock) contain an
acrid watery juice which is more or less narcotic in its effect. Similarly species of
Oenathe, Cicuta and Aethusa are poisonous and their roots are deadly to all kinds
of live stock and also fatal to man.