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Carrot Family (Apiaceae)

Edible Species In The Carrot Family, Wild Species Occurring In North AmericaOrnamental species

The carrot family (Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae) is a diverse group of about 3,000 species of plants, occurring in all parts of the world.

Most Umbellifers are herbaceous, perennial plants, often with aromatic foliage. Some species have poisonous foliage or roots. The leaves are typically alternately arranged on the stem, and in many species they are compound and divided into lobes. The flowers are small and Cow parsnip growing in a field. Mary M. Thacker/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission. contain both female (pistillate) and male (staminate) organs. The individual flowers are aggregated into characteristic, flat-topped inflorescences (groups) called umbels, from which one of the scientific names of the family (Umbelliferae) is derived. The fruits are dry, twoseeded structures called schizocarps, which split at maturity into two one-seeded, vertically ribbed subfruits, known as mericarps.

A few species in the carrot family are grown as ornamentals, usually as foliage plants, rather than for their flowers. A variegated variety of goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) is often cultivated for this reason, as are some larger species, such as angelica (Angelica sylvestris).

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