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Flora
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Brassicaceae - Cruciferae

CRUCIFERAE ( kroo-siff'er-ce), often called Brassicaceae, is a family of over 350 genera and perhaps 2500 species, nearly all herbs of wide distribution. It is commonly called the mustard, cabbage, cress, or radish family, but besides these and other important vegetables it contains many popular garden plants like candytuft, sweet alyssum, honesty, Aethionema, and the stocks.

Leaves prevailingly alternate, often bitter but never poisonous, simple or compound. Flowers always (except in double-nowered forms) with 4 petals arranged cross-fashion (hence Cruciferae = cross-bearing), usually with a claw, Fruit a dry pod, when long called a silique; when as broad as long (as in honesty) called a silicle.

The genera (or genus) may be broken down into two main categories - ornamental and garden. The garden genera of the Cruciferae furnish many important vegetables and condiments, such as: 

  • horse-radish,
  • brassica (cabbage),
  • cauliflower,
  • broccoli,
  • mustard,
  • Brussels sprouts,
  • turnip,
  • kohlrabi,
  • radish,
  • Nasturtium (watercress).

Two other garden genera furnish minor vegetables or salad plants:

  • Crambe (sea-kale)
  • Eruca (rocket salad)

The ornamentals come from about 50 genera, some of which have been garden favorites for centuries. They include:

  • Aethionema,
  • Alyssum,
  • Aubrieta,
  • Erysimum (Cheiranthus),
  • Hesperis,
  • Iberis (candytuft),
  • Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum),
  • Mathiola,

Lesser known and less ornamental genera include:

  • Arabis,
  • Barbarea (largely weedy),
  • Cardamine,
  • Cochleana,
  • Dentaria,
  • Draba,
  • Hutchinsia,
  • Ionopsidium,
  • Isatis,
  • Lepidium (largely weedy),
  • Malcomia,
  • Schizopetalon,
  • Stanleya,
  • Thlaspi,
  • Vesicaria.

The last remaining genera is:

  • Anastatica (which see) includes an extraordinary little desert plant often called "Rose-of-Jericho" or "Resurrection plant".

Technical flower characters: Flowers small, usually very numerous in mostly unbrancbed clusters (racemes). Sepals 4, soon withering. Petals 4. Stamens typically 6, four long and two short. Ovary superior, developing into dry pods (siliques or silicles).

  • cruenta, -us, -um (kroo-en'ta). Blood-colored or bloody.
  • crus-galli (kruss-gal'li). A specific name implying that a plant or its organs are like a cock's spur.
  • Crux-andrae (krux-an'dree). A specific name implying that the plant is named for St. Andrew's cross.

From: Taylor's Encyclopedia of Gardening.

---------------------------

Cruciferae Juss. (alternate name: Brassicaceae Burnett)

Including Raphanaceae Horan., Stanleae (Stanleyaceae) Nutt.

Habit and leaf form.

Herbs (mostly), or shrubs (rarely), or lianas (rarely). ‘Normal’ plants (mostly), or switch-plants (e.g. Caulanthus, sometimes spiny, e.g. Vella). Plants non-succulent (mainly), or succulent (a few, e.g. Cakile). Annual, biennial, and perennial; with a basal aggregation of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves. Self supporting (usually), or climbing (rarely). When shrubby, often pachycaul. Hydrophytic, helophytic, mesophytic, and xerophytic; when hydrophytic, rooted. Leaves of hydrophytes submerged and emergent. Heterophyllous, or not heterophyllous.

Leaves minute to very large; alternate; spiral (usually), or distichous (rarely); fleshy (occasionally), or ‘herbaceous’; petiolate, or subsessile, or sessile; sheathing to non-sheathing; foetid (sometimes), or without marked odour; simple (usually), or compound (rarely); epulvinate; when compound, pinnate (with articulated leaflets). Lamina when simple, dissected to entire; when simple-dissected, pinnatifid, or runcinate; one-veined (rarely), or pinnately veined; cross-venulate.

Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire, or serrate, or dentate. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem.

Leaf anatomy.

Mucilaginous epidermis present (commonly), or absent.

Lamina dorsiventral, or isobilateral, or centric. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (4 genera).

Stem anatomy.

Cork cambium present, or absent; initially in woody species deep-seated. Nodes unilacunar, or tri-lacunar, or multilacunar. Cortical bundles present (rarely), or absent. Medullary bundles present (rarely), or absent. Secondary thickening absent, or developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous (?— given the occasional presence of cortical and/or medullary bundles); usually from a single cambial ring. ‘Included’ phloem present (e.g.Brassica, Cochlearia), or absent. Xylem with fibre tracheids; with vessels. Vessel end-walls simple. Vessels with vestured pits. Wood partially storied, or not storied (?); parenchyma paratracheal (scarce). Sieve-tube plastids P-type, or S-type; when P-type type I (b).

Reproductive type, pollination.

Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present (nearly always), or absent. Nectar secretion from the perianth, from the disk, and from the androecium. Anemophilous (e.g.Pringlea), or entomophilous (mostly).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology.

Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (usually), or solitary (rarely); in corymbs (commonly), or in racemes, or in spikes, or in fascicles. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary, or leaf-opposed (e.g. Coronopus); sometimes more or less pseudanthial, or not pseudanthial. Flowers ebracteate (usually), or bracteate; ebracteolate (mostly), or bracteolate; minute to medium-sized; fragrant, or odourless; more or less regular (usually), or somewhat irregular. The floral irregularity (when noticeable) involving the perianth (the outer petals of pseudanthia sometimes radiate and larger). Flowers 2 merous; cyclic; polycyclic (usually 6), or tetracyclic to pentacyclic (when C or A whorls lacking). Floral receptacle nearly always with neither androphore nor gynophore (by contrast with Capparidaceae — the long, slender gynophore of Stanleyeae being exceptional). Free hypanthium absent. Hypogynous disk present (nearly always), or absent; extrastaminal, or intrastaminal, or extrastaminal and intrastaminal (usually between and/or external to the filaments, sometimes surrounding their bases); of separate members (usually, in variable configurations which are of taxonomic interest), or annular (in that the members are sometimes confluent).

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla, or sepaline (the corolla occasionally lacking); 8 (usually), or 4; characteristically 3 whorled (K 2+2 decussate with the outer pair median, C4, the corolla diagonal), or 2 whorled (when corolla lacking). Calyx 2 whorled (generally, supposedly — usually obviously so in bud); polysepalous; regular; members sometimes dimorphic, with the lateral (inner) pair often basally saccate for nectar storage; decussate. Corolla 4 (diagonal); 1 whorled; polypetalous; imbricate, or contorted; regular (usually); white, or yellow, or orange, or purple, or blue. Petals clawed (usually), or sessile (e.g. Cuphonotus, Geococcus).

Androecium 6 (usually), or 2–4, or 8–16 (rarely). Androecial members branched (usually, in that the inner whorl of 4 is derived from only 2 primordia), or unbranched; free of the perianth; markedly unequal (usually, the outer pair shorter), or all equal; free of one another, or coherent (the inner four sometimes basally connate in pairs); 2 whorled (usually, 2+4), or 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6 (usually), or 2–4, or 8–16 (rarely); tetradynamous (nearly always), or not didynamous, not tetradynamous (when the outer pair missing); oppositisepalous. Filaments appendiculate, or not appendiculate. Anthers basifixed; non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; unilocular to bilocular; tetrasporangiate; variously appendaged, or unappendaged. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Anther epidermis persistent. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral, or isobilateral, or decussate. Anther wall initially with one middle layer, or initially with more than one middle layer; of the ‘monocot’ type. Tapetum glandular. Pollen shed as single grains. Pollen grains aperturate, or nonaperturate (occasionally); 3(–10) aperturate; colpate; 3-celled.

Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil 1–2 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 1–2 locular. Locules secondarily divided by ‘false septa’ (usually, as evidenced by the longitudinal splitting of the parietal placentas by the replum), or without ‘false septa’ (e.g. Menkea). Gynoecium transverse. Ovary sessile (usually), or stipitate (rarely, cf. Capparidaceae). Gynoecium non-stylate, or non-stylate to stylate. Styles 1 (more or less reduced); apical. Stigmas 1–2; commissural (mostly, when detectably two or bilobed), or dorsal to the carpels (e.g. Matthiola, Moricandia); 1 lobed, or 2 lobed; more or less capitate; dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation when unilocular, parietal; when bilocular, parietal (but peculiarly so, the usual two placentas usually each longitudinally divided by a ‘false’ septum, the ‘replum’, separating the locules). Ovules in the single cavity 1–50 (to ‘many’); (1–)3–50 per locule (i.e. usually several to ‘many’ per placenta); commonly pendulous, or horizontal; with ventral raphe; non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; tenuinucellate, or crassinucellate. Outer integument contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Synergids hooked (sometimes with filiform apparatus). Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny onagrad.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent (usually), or indehiscent (Cakile, Crambe, Coronopus etc), or a schizocarp (e.g. sometimes in Coronopus), or lomentaceous (or sometimes partially so). Mericarps when schizocarpic, 2. Fruit a silicula to a siliqua (with variations on these themes, sometimes partially of entirely lomentaceous), or capsular-indehiscent (i.e. when neither dehiscent nor lomentaceous). Capsules when dehiscent, valvular (the valves usually falling or spreading upwards to reveal the replum). Seeds scantily endospermic, or non-endospermic; small to medium sized; winged (e.g. Matthiola, Isatis), or wingless. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons 2; flat, or folded (longitudinally or transversely). Embryo chlorophyllous (32/52); bent (nearly always folded, cotyledons against radicle), or straight (e.g. Leavenworthia). The radicle lateral, or dorsal.

Seedling.

Germination phanerocotylar, or cryptocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry.

Mustard-oils present. Cyanogenic, or not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present, or absent (more often). Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins absent (except sometimes in the seedcoat). Flavonols present, or absent; when present, kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent (9 species, 7 genera). Arbutin absent. Aluminium accumulation not found. C3 (almost exclusively), or C3-C4 intermediate. C3 physiology recorded directly in Barbarea, Berteroa, Brassica, Cakile, Capsella, Cheiranthus, Crambe, Dipterygium, Farsetia, Matthiola, Raphanus, Sisymbrium, Thlaspi. C3-C4 intermediacy in Moricandia (3 species). Anatomy non-C4 type (Aethionema, Alyssum, Arabis, Brassica, Capsella, Cardamine, Descurainia, Diceratella, Draba, Erysimum, Erucastrum, Farsetia, Fortuynia, Leavenworthia, Lepidium, Lesquerella, Matthiola, Morieria, Oreophyton, Rorippa, Sisymbrium, Thlaspi etc.).

Geography, cytology.

Frigid zone to tropical. Cosmopolitan, concentrated in the North temperate and Mediterranean. X = 5–12(+).

Taxonomy.

Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Violiflorae; Capparales. Cronquist’s Subclass Dilleniidae; Capparales. APG (1998) Eudicot; core Eudicot; Rosid; Eurosid II; Brassicales. Species 3200. Genera about 350.

Genera

  1. Acanthocardamum
  2. Aethionema
  3. Agallis
  4. Alliaria
  5. Alyssoides
  6. Alysopsis
  7. Alyssum
  8. Ammosperma
  9. Anastatica
  10. Anchonium
  11. Andrzeiowskia
  12. Anelsonia
  13. Aphragmus
  14. Aplanodes
  15. Arabidella
  16. Arabidopsis
  17. Arabis
  18. Arcyosperma
  19. Armoracia
  20. Aschersoniodoxa
  21. Asperuginoides
  22. Asta
  23. Atelanthera
  24. Athysanus
  25. Aubretia
  26. Aurinia
  27. Ballantinia
  28. Barbarea
  29. Berteroa
  30. Berteroella
  31. Biscutella
  32. Bivonaea
  33. Blennodia
  34. Boleum
  35. Boreava
  36. Bornmuellera
  37. Borodinia
  38. Botscantzevia
  39. Brachycarpaea
  40. Brassica
  41. Braya
  42. Brayopsis
  43. Brossardia
  44. Bunias
  45. Cakile
  46. Calepina
  47. Calymmatium
  48. Camelina
  49. Camelinopsis
  50. Capsella
  51. Cardamine
  52. Cardaminopsis
  53. Cardaria
  54. Carinavalva
  55. Carrichtera
  56. Catadysia
  57. Catenulina
  58. Caulanthus
  59. Caulostramina
  60. Ceratocnemum
  61. Ceriosperma
  62. Chalcanthus
  63. Chamira
  64. Chartoloma
  65. Cheesemania
  66. Cheiranthus (=Erisymum)
  67. Chlorocrambe
  68. Chorispora
  69. Christolea
  70. Chrysobraya
  71. Chrysochamela
  72. Cithareloma
  73. Clastopus
  74. Clausia
  75. Clypeola
  76. Cochlearia
  77. Coelonema
  78. Coincya
  79. Coluteocarpus
  80. Conringia
  81. Cordylocarpus
  82. Coronopus
  83. Crambe
  84. Crambella
  85. Cremolobus
  86. Cryptospora
  87. Cuphonotus
  88. Cusickiella
  89. Cycloptychis
  90. Cymatocarpus
  91. Cyphocardamum
  92. Dactylocardamum
  93. Degenia
  94. Delpinophytum
  95. Descurainia
  96. Diceratella
  97. Dichasianthus
  98. Dictyophragmus
  99. Didesmus
  100. Didymophysa
  101. Dielsiocharis
  102. Dilophia
  103. Dimorphocarpa
  104. Diplotaxis
  105. Dipoma
  106. Diptychocarpus
  107. Dithyrea
  108. Dolichirhynchus
  109. Dontostemon
  110. Douepea
  111. Draba
  112. Drabastrum
  113. Drabopsis
  114. Dryopetalon
  115. Eigia
  116. Elburzia
  117. Enarthrocarpus
  118. Englerocharis
  1. Eremobium
  2. Eremoblastus
  3. Eremodraba
  4. Eremophyton
  5. Ermania
  6. Ermaniopsis
  7. Erophila
  8. Erucaria
  9. Erucastrum
  10. Erysimum
  11. Euclidium
  12. Eudema
  13. Eutrema
  14. Euzomodendron
  15. Farsetia
  16. Fezia
  17. Fibigia
  18. Foleyola
  19. Fortuynia
  20. Galitzkya
  21. Geococcus
  22. Glaribraya
  23. Glastaria
  24. Glaucocarpum
  25. Goldbachia
  26. Gorodkovia
  27. Graellsia
  28. Grammosperma
  29. Guiraoa
  30. Gynophorea
  31. Halimolobos
  32. Harmsiodoxa
  33. Hedinia
  34. Heldreichia
  35. Heliophila
  36. Hemicrambe
  37. Hemilophia
  38. Hesperis
  39. Heterodraba
  40. Hirschfeldia
  41. Hollermayera
  42. Hornungia
  43. Hornwoodia
  44. Hugueninia
  45. Hymenolobus
  46. Iberis
  47. Idahoa
  48. Iodanthus
  49. Ionopsidium
  50. Irenepharsus
  51. Isatis
  52. Ischnocarpus
  53. Iskandera
  54. Iti
  55. Ivania
  56. Kernera
  57. Kremeriella
  58. Lachnocapsa
  59. Lachnoloma
  60. Leavenworthia
  61. Lepidium
  62. Lepidostemon
  63. Leptaleum
  64. Lesquerella
  65. Lignariella
  66. Lithodraba
  67. Lobularia
  68. Lonchophora
  69. Loxostemon
  70. Lunaria
  71. Lyocarpus
  72. Lyrocarpa
  73. Macropodium
  74. Malcolmia
  75. Mancoa
  76. Maresia
  77. Mathewsia
  78. Matthiola
  79. Megacarpaea
  80. Megadenia
  81. Menkea
  82. Menonvillea
  83. Microlepidium
  84. Microsysymbrium
  85. Microstigma
  86. Morettia
  87. Moricandia
  88. Moriera
  89. Morisia
  90. Murbeckiella
  91. Muricaria
  92. Myagrum
  93. Nasturtiopsis
  94. Nasturtium (= Rorippa)
  95. Neomartinella
  96. Neotchihatchewia
  97. Neotorularia
  98. Nerisyrenia
  99. Neslia
  100. Neuontobotrys
  101. Notoceras
  102. Notothlaspi
  103. Ochthodium
  104. Octoceras
  105. Onuris
  106. Oreoloma
  107. Oreophyton
  108. Ornithocarpa
  109. Orychophragmus
  110. Otocarpus
  111. Oudneya
  112. Pachycladon
  113. Pachymitus
  114. Pachyphragma
  115. Pachypterygium
  116. Parlatoria
  117. Parodiodoxa
  118. Parolinia
  1. Parrya
  2. Parryodes
  3. Pegaeophyton
  4. Peltaria
  5. Peltariopsis
  6. Pennellia
  7. Petiniotia
  8. Petrocallis
  9. Phaeonychium
  10. Phlebolobium
  11. Phlegmatospermum
  12. Phoenicaulis
  13. Physaria
  14. Physocardamum
  15. Physoptychis
  16. Physorrhynchus
  17. Platycraspedum
  18. Polyctenium
  19. Polypsecadium
  20. Pringlea
  21. Prionotrichon
  22. Pritzelago
  23. Pseuderucaria
  24. Pseudocamelina
  25. Pseudoclausia
  26. Pseudofortuynia
  27. Pseudovesicaria
  28. Psychine
  29. Pterygiosperma
  30. Pterygostemon
  31. Pugionium
  32. Pycnoplinthopsis
  33. Pycnoplinthus
  34. Pyramidium
  35. Quezeliantha
  36. Quidproquo
  37. Raffenaldia
  38. Raphanorhyncha
  39. Raphanus
  40. Rapistrum
  41. Reboudia
  42. Redowskia
  43. Rhizobotrya
  44. Ricotia
  45. Robeschia
  46. Rollinsia
  47. Romanschulzia
  48. Roripella
  49. Rorippa
  50. Rytidocarpus
  51. Sameraria
  52. Sarcodraba
  53. Savignya
  54. Scambopus
  55. Schimpera
  56. Schivereckia
  57. Schizopetalon
  58. Schlechteria
  59. Schoenocrambe
  60. Schouwia
  61. Scoliaxon
  62. Selenia
  63. Sibara
  64. Silicularia
  65. Sinapidendron
  66. Sinapis
  67. Sisymbrella
  68. sisymbriopsis
  69. Sisymbrium
  70. Smelowskia
  71. Sobolewslia
  72. Sohms-Laubachia
  73. Sophiopsis
  74. Sphaerocardamum
  75. Spirorhynchus
  76. Spryginia
  77. Staintoniella
  78. Stanfordia
  79. Stanleya
  80. Stenopetalum
  81. Sterigmostemum
  82. Stevenia
  83. Straussiella
  84. Streptanthella
  85. Streptanthus
  86. Streptoloma
  87. Stroganowia
  88. Stubebdorffia
  89. Subularia
  90. Succowia
  91. Synstemon
  92. Synthlipsis
  93. Taphrospermum
  94. Tauscheria
  95. Teesdalia
  96. Teesdaliopsis
  97. Tetracme
  98. Thelypodiopsis
  99. Thelypodium
  100. Thlaspeocarpa
  101. Thlaspi
  102. Thysanocarpus
  103. Trachystoma
  104. Trichotolinum
  105. Trochiscus
  106. Tropidocarpum
  107. Turritis
  108. Vella
  109. Warea
  110. Weberbauera
  111. Werdermannia
  112. Winklera
  113. Xerodraba
  114. Yinshania
  115. Zerdana
  116. Zilla

For family review, see Vaughan, Macleod and Jones 1976.

Economic uses, etc.

The important food crops are from:

  • Brassica (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips, Brussels sprouts);
  • Raphanus (radish);
  • Rorippa (watercress);
  • condiments from Brassica (mustard), Armoracia (horse-radish)

The ornamentals come from about 50 genera, including:

  • Arabis,
  • Erysimum (Cheiranthus),
  • Hesperis,
  • Iberis,
  • Lobularia,
  • Lunaria,
  • Matthiola.

Sources:

  • Taylor's Encyclopedia of Gardening
  • L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. Version: 14th December 2000. http://biodiversity.uno.edu/delta/’. Dallwitz (1980), Dallwitz, Paine and Zurcher (1993, 1995, 2000), and Watson and Dallwitz (1991) - http://www.maltawildplants.com/!docs/Family/Cruciferae.htm.

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Created: Thursday, December 14, 2006; Last updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012
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