The Gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) of flowering plants has about 950+ species of vegetable and ornamental plants. Members of the family are annual or perennial herbs native to temperate and tropical areas and include cucumbers, gourds, melons, squashes, and pumpkins.
These are fast-growing creeping or climbing vines.
Most species have unisexual flowers, borne in the leaf axils. Flowers may be white or yellow. Male flowers have up to five anthers, often fused or joined and in female flowers the ovary is seen at an inferior level to petals.
The fruit in most species is a fleshy many-seeded berry with a tough rind, often attaining considerable size. The seeds are flattened.
Ginger family (Zingiberaceae) is a family of flowering plants with aromatic perennial herbs.
Flowers may be showy or inconspicuous, as seen in these pictures. When inconspicuous, they are seen in showy cymose inflorescences, formed by conspicuous, spirally arranged bracts (leaflike structures). These flower clusters are cone-like in appearance. The Zingiberaceae flowers resemble orchid flowers.
Many species are economically important as ornamental plants, spices, or are used in traditional medicine. A few examples of this family are Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamom, Arrowroot etc.
A Spadix is a type of inflorescence found in the Araceae family.
It consists of a spathe, which is simply a large leaf-like bract, colourful or showy, to attract pollinators. Spadix is the cylindrical inflorescence, basically a spike, with small flowers on a thickened, fleshy axis and it is protected by the spathe in bud stage.
Many Aroids are ornamental plants due to the Spadix and Spathe.
The sap of Aroids contains needle-like calcium oxalate crystals, which can be mildly toxic and can irritate hands and sensitive tissues. However, not all aroids are toxic and used as vegetable, including their leaves.
Some members of this family reproduce by seeds, whereas many have vegetative propagation.
The inflorescence of species such as Titan arum gives off a very pungent smell, often resembling rotten flesh.
Heliconia, derived from the Greek word Helikṓnios, is a genus of flowering plants that are native to the tropical forests. All have bold leaves and showy flowers. Several species are widely cultivated as ornamentals and are known by common names like lobster-claws, wild plantains or parrot flowers.
Large, brightly hued bracts that cluster up a stem have inconsequential tiny flowers in their axils. Flower bracts are arranged in terminal racemes, which may be held erect or pendulant.
The plants grow and propagate from underground rhizomes, which can be broken apart and used to start a new plant.
The heliconia family, Heliconiaceae, is most closely related to the gingers and bananas.
It may not seem like grasses are flowering plants to a layman as the grass flowers don’t look quite like the showy colorful parts most people recognize as flowers. Grasses are definitely flowering plants.
The flowers or inflorescence is called a “spike” or sometimes a “panicle.” Though individual flowers are not attractive, the inflorescence is very much noticeable and some of the ornamental grasses have pretty spikes.
Grasses belong to a large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as Poaceae or Gramineae. This includes the cereal grasses, bamboos and the grasses of natural grassland and cultivated lawns and pastures.
Sage (genus Salvia) has about 900 species of herbaceous and woody plants that belong to the mint family. They are generally perennial and aromatic. The name Salvia (“salviya”) derives from the Latin ‘Salvere’ meaning “to feel well and healthy”, referring to the herb’s healing properties.
Some are important as sources of flavouring and many are grown as garden ornamentals. The flowers are usually tubular with two lips and only two stamens and are borne in terminal inflorescences. They generally produce a showy display with flower colours ranging from blue to red, with white and a variety of shades of these colours.
S. divinorum is a hallucinogenic plant native to Mexico.
You may be surprised to learn that there are more than two hundred species of geraniums that range in size, shape and colour. The common geranium comes in shades of white, red and pink with many striking bi-colours, too! Its a gardener’s delight!
The genus name is derived from the Greek word géranos meaning ‘crane’. Its common English name ‘cranesbill’ comes from the shape of the fruit capsule.
Geranium, as a housewarming gift, represents friendship or wishes for good health. Americans view the geranium flower as a symbol of happiness and positive emotions. They are often presented at special occasions such as promotions and retirements.
Geranium oil is commonly used in aromatherapy for its many health benefits. Geranium tea is a soothing aromatic drink.