Science Quiz / Largest Plant Families

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Can you name the 30 largest (most speciose) plant families?

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HintsFamily# of species
1,620 genera including Senecio, Vernonia, and Aster.22,750
A favorite of horticulturalists, the name of this family comes from the Greek word meaning 'testicle'.21,950
Sometimes called the pulse family, includes the 'musical fruit'.19,400
Includes corn, which was domesticated in Mexico some 8,700 years ago.10,025
The madder or coffee family is concentrated in warmer and tropical climates.10,000+
Used to be called 'Labiatae', typically has a square stem.7,175
The spurge family contains a large variety of phytotoxins, often with a milky sap or latex.5,735
Found mostly in the tropics, distinctive leaves typically with strong longitudinal veins and tertiary veins at right angles to the midrib. 5,005
All species are woody with essential oils. Includes clove, guava, allspice, eucalyptus, and myrtle.4,625
The dogbane family includes Asclepiadaceae in newer phylogenies. 4,555
Sedges have edges!4,350
Includes over 200 genera, the largest is Hibiscus with 300 species!4,225
Flowers are born on a spadix, sometimes enclosed in a leaf-like bract called a spathe. The stem group has been dated to ca 131 million years ago!4,025
These plants thrive in acidic soils. Includes heath and heather.3,995
In the order Lamiales. Has 147 genera including Kohleria and Gesneria.3,870
HintsFamily# of species
The Umbelliferae family. The study of this family is sometimes called sciadophytography.3,780
Pepper! This speciose family only has 5 genera!3,600
Mostly tropical, includes genera Thunbergia, Justicia, Acanthus, and Ruellia.3,500
That which we call this family by any other name would smell as sweet.2,830
Species in the nettle family often have stinging hairs. Ouch!!2,625
The typic genus in this family means 'little frog' in latin. (Think of the frog genus)2,525
You might wear a wreath from this family on your head in ancient Greece.2,500
Important source of food, spice, and medicine but some are very toxic, such as nightshade. 2,460
Includes many familiar garden plants. Current classifications include Lobeliaceae in this family.2,380
Also known as Palmae or Palmaceae.2,361
Only 5 of the 130 genera in the custard apple family produce edible fruits.2,220
The pink family is best represented in temperate climates.2,220
Species in the broomrape family are usually parasitic.2,060

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