Genera : 55 - 70

Species: 700

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Distribution: Cosmopolitan - but more numerous in subtropics and tropics


Economic Uses: Panax or ginseng is an important medicinal root. Hedera helix (ivy) and Schefflera are important as indoor and outdoor ornamentals.

Defining Features of Interest: Very similar to the Apiaceae and in the past, included this family. There are often prickly or stellate hairs on the vegetative parts. Flowers contain a nectiferous disk.

Fossil Evidence: Plant parts in the Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary.

Defining Morphology

Floral Features : Actinomorphic, perfect or unisexual and dioecious. Flowers small and in umbels or rarely in heads, racemes or spikes. Epigynous (rarely hypogynous).

Fruit and Seed Features : Fruit as a berry or drupe. Seeds have endosperm present. Placentation is axile and apical.

Vegetative Features : Habit is as herbs, shrubs, trees or lianas. Leaves are simple, pinnately or palmately compound, sometimes lobed, and alternate (rarley opposite or whorled). Leaves are also usually large, with the base of the petiole often sheathed and with small stipules present.