Plant family backlog

This is an assemblage of plant families that have been mentioned on this blog but not treated in any detail (I might well have missed some). I’ll start with those from my “Birthday flowers” posting, which referred to the olive family (including the genera Syringa and Jasminum) and to the violet family (including the genus Viola) and will lead to a few other families. Then I’ll go back through earlier postings, starting in 2012 and pick up some more.

The olive family. That is, the Oleaceae. (I’ll boldface the names of families not counted in previous inventories.) From Wikipedia:

Oleaceae … is a family of flowering plants in the order Lamiales. It presently comprises 26 genera, one of which is recently extinct. … Oleaceae consists of shrubs, trees, and a few lianas. The flowers are often numerous and highly odoriferous. … Notable members of Oleaceae include olive, ash, jasmine, and several popular ornamentals including privet, forsythia, fringetrees, and lilac.

I’ll take up those notable members, in the order they are given above.

The type genus Olea:

a genus of about 40 species in the family Oleaceae, native to warm temperate and tropical regions of southern Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Australasia. They are evergreen trees and shrubs, with small, opposite, entire leaves. The fruit is a drupe.

… For humans, the most important species is by far the Olive (Olea europaea), native to the Mediterranean region, Africa, southwest Asia and the Himalayas. (Wikipedia link)

Though olives have come up many times in my postings about food, I haven’t posted a photo of the fruits on the tree:


Then the ash, from Wikipedia:

Fraxinus … is a genus of flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45–65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen.

… The tree’s common English name, “ash”, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name originated in Latin. Both words also mean “spear” in their respective languages.

… Rowans or mountain ashes have leaves and buds superficially similar to those of true ashes but belong to the unrelated genus Sorbus in the rose family.

Fraxinus excelsior:


On to jasmine. From Wikipedia:

Jasmine (taxonomic name Jasminum …) is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Eurasia, Australasia and Oceania. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers. A number of unrelated plants contain the word “Jasmine” in their common names [for instance, star jasmine, coming up later]

Jasminum sambac:


Then privet (Ligustrum), which I posted about on 6/24/14. And forsythia (Forsythia), which I posted about on 4/24/14.

And fringetrees. From Wkipedia:

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree) is a tree native to the eastern United States, from New Jersey south to Florida, and west to Oklahoma and Texas. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to as much as 10 to 11 metres (33 to 36 ft) tall, though ordinarily less.

White fringetree in bloom:


And the lilac (Syringa), which I posted about on 6/20/13.

On to the Violaceae. From Wikipedia:

Violaceae … is a family of flowering plants consisting of about 800 species in 25 genera. It takes its name from the genus Viola, the violets and pansies. Though the best-known genus, Viola, is herbaceous, most species are shrubs or small trees.

You can find some pansy art here. And here’s a common blue violet:


Digression: African violets. African violets are not violets, or even in the violet family. They are Saintpaullias, in a new family, the Gesneriaceae. From Wikipedia:

Saintpaulias, commonly known as African violets, are a genus of 6–20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae, native to Tanzania and adjacent southeastern Kenya in eastern tropical Africa. Typically the African violet is a common household indoor plant but can also be an outdoor plant.

Saintpaulia Ionantha:


On the family, from Wikipedia:

Gesneriaceae is a family of flowering plants consisting of ca. 150 genera and ca. 3,200 species in the Old World and New World tropics and subtropics, with a very small number extending to temperate areas. Many species have colorful and showy flowers and are cultivated as ornamental plants.

Back to earlier postings.

Start with a posting of 7/29/12:

Lagerstroemia …, commonly known as Crape myrtle or Crepe myrtle, is a genus of around 50 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs … It is a member of the Lythraceae, which is also known as the Loosestrife family.

On the Lythraceae:

The Lythraceae are a family of flowering plants, including about 620 species of mostly herbs, with some shrubs and trees, in 31 genera. Major genera include Cuphea (275 spp.), Lagerstroemia (56), Nesaea (50), Rotala (45), and Lythrum (35).

And its type genus, Lythrum, here represented by the problematic L. salicaria:

Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) is a flowering plant belonging to the family Lythraceae. It should not be confused with other plants sharing the name loosestrife that are members of the family Primulaceae.

… Found in ditches, wet meadows and marshes and along sides of lakes.

[There are many cultivars. But… ]

The purple loosestrife has been introduced into temperate New Zealand and North America where it is now widely naturalised and officially listed in some controlling agents. Infestations result in dramatic disruption in water flow in rivers and canals, and a sharp decline in biological diversity as native food and cover plant species, notably cattails, are completely crowded out, and the life cycles of organisms from waterfowl to amphibians to algae are affected. A single plant may produce up to 2.7 million tiny seeds annually. Easily carried by wind and water, the seeds germinate in moist soils after overwintering. The plant can also sprout anew from pieces of root left in the soil or water. Once established, loosestrife stands are difficult and costly to remove by mechanical and chemical means. (Wikipedia link)


On to a posting of 4/21/13, with the evening primrose, (Oenothera),  a genus in the family Onagraceae, of about 125 species of herbaceous flowering plants, native to North and South America. It is the type genus of the family Onagraceae.

On the family, from Wikipedia:

Onagraceae, known as the willowherb family or evening primrose family, is a family of flowering plants. It includes approximately 650 species in 17 genera. They are herbs, shrubs, and trees.

… The family includes a number of popular garden plants, including evening primroses (Oenothera) and fuchsias (Fuchsia). Some, particularly the willowherbs (Epilobium) are common weeds in gardens and in the wild.

On Fuchsia, which Wikipedia tells us is “a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees.”


(Fuchsia is a vivid purplish red color, named after the flower of the fuchsia plant, which took its name from the 16th century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs.)

Next: a posting of 6/20/13 on the California lilac (Ceonothus), in the family Rhamnaceae, the buckthorn family, with type genus Rhamnus. On the family, from Wikipedia:

Rhamnaceae is a large family of flowering plants, mostly trees, shrubs, and some vines, commonly called the Buckthorn Family. The family contains 50-60 genera and approximately 870-900 species.

… Some species are invasive outside their natural ranges. R. cathartica was introduced into the United States as a garden shrub and has become an invasive species in many areas there.

Here’s a buckthorn in my Ohio garden in 1998:


Next up, a posting of 5/4/15 on star jasmine, which is not a jasmine, but the species Trachelospermum jasminoides, in the family Apocynaceae. On the family, from Wikipedia:

Apocynaceae is a family of flowering plants that includes trees, shrubs, herbs, stem succulents, and vines, commonly called the dogbane family, after the American plant known as dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum.

Some plants from various regions:

(1) In Central America: Plumeria, or the frangipani, with its waxy white or pink flowers and a sweet scent


From Wikipedia:

Plumeria (… common name Frangipani) is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It contains primarily deciduous shrubs and small trees.

Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, however, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

(2) In the Mediterranean region: Nerium, including the well-known oleander or be-still tree (Nerium oleander):


From Wikipedia:

Nerium oleander …] is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, toxic in all its parts. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is most commonly known as oleander, from its superficial resemblance to the unrelated olive Olea.

… Oleander grows well in warm subtropical regions where it is extensively used as an ornamental plant in landscapes, in parks, and along roadsides.

(3) The only genera found in temperate Europe away from the Mediterranean are Vinca … and Vincetoxicum. Vinca minor, commonly used as a groundcover:


From Wikipedia:

Vinca (… Latin: vincire “to bind, fetter”) is a genus in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus (and also with the common seashore mollusc, Littorina littorea)

(4) And  In North America: Apocynum, dogbane or Indian hemp, including Apocynum cannabinum, a traditional source of fiber

Then in a posting of 6/14/15, the Russian-olive, which (of course) is not an olive, but is instead a species, Eleagnus angustifolia, in the type genus of the family Eleagnaceae:

Elaeagnaceae, the oleaster family, is a plant family of the order Rosales comprising small trees and shrubs, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, south into tropical Asia and Australia. The family has 45–50 species in three genera. (Wikipedia link)

Finally, in a posting of 7/23/15, the horsetail restio, Elegia capensis, in the family Restionaceae, described (as a genus) by Linnaeus in 1771.

Running total. If I’ve counted right, there are 8 more families here, for a new total of 49 familes. [Correction, 9/10: 9 more, for a total of 50]

One Response to “Plant family backlog”

  1. Gary Says:

    Pisanus Fraxi ( ) ties all your interests together, including your X-blog.

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