A Few Statistics, Illustrated

Depending on when you look it up, and the current state of research, and the seeming whim of taxonomists, the Asteraceae is the largest plant family on Earth, with 23,000 species (more or less).  Only the orchid family is as large, or larger, maybe.  Species in the Asteraceae can be found in almost every habitat, on every continent except Antarctica.

20140518-DSC_0092 Erigeron philadelphicus (common fleabane)

 

 

 

 

In the Potomac Gorge area, I’ve found more plants in the Asteraceae than any other family, by far: seventy species. That’s out of a total of 351, or just shy of 1 in 5.  This includes the asters themselves, the beggar-ticks, bonesets, coneflowers, coreopsis, dandelions, elephant’s foot, everlasting, the various fleabanes, the multitudes of goldenrods, leafcup, hawkweeds, horseweeds, ironweed, fireweed, rattlesnake weed and ragweed and ragwort, pussytoes, snakeroots and sneezeweed, sunflowers and thistles, and wingstem. And some aliens I didn’t bother to name.

20140828-DSC_0072

The second largest family, at 21 species (13 native, 8 alien), was the Fabaceae (pea family).

Lespedeza virginica (slender bush-clover)

 

 

 

 

 

20140613-DSC_0096

In third place was the Lamiaceae (mint family) at 16 (11 native, 5 alien).

Scutellaria elliptica (hairy skullcap)

 

 

 

 

 

lyre-leaved rock-cress

Brassicaeae (mustard family) checked in at 15 (7 and 8).

 Arabis lyrata (lyre-leaved rock cress)

 

 

 

rue anemone duo

 

Ranunculaceae (buttercup family) had 14 (10 and 4).

Thalictrum thalictroides (rue-anemone)

 

 

swamp dewberry

 

The Rosaceae (rose family) had 12 (9 and 3).

Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)

 

 

sweet cicely closeup 2

 

And the Apiaceae had 10 (6 and 4).

Osmorhiza claytonii (sweet cicely)

 

 

 

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And though the Orchidaceae is so large worldwide, in this area I found only two. More on that tomorrow.

Tipularia discolor (cranefly orchid)

 

 

 

Here’s a nice tutorial on the Asteraceae.

One thought on “A Few Statistics, Illustrated

  1. I love how you broke down the family, giving examples of the subspecies and showing the variety of flowers. Great layout! The pictures are excellent too! I enjoy your posts because I live in Southern California and it’s refreshing to see a different part of the world through the eyes of someone who shares the same perspective. 🙂

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