The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Caryophyllaceae Juss.


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IncludingAlsinaceae, Circumaceae Dulac, Corrigiolaceae Dum., Dianthaceae von Vest, Gracilicaulaceae Dulac, Illecebraceae R. Br., Onychiaceae Dulac, Paronychieae (Paronychiaceae) A. St.-Hil., Scleranthaceae Bartl., Sileneae (Silenaceae) Bartl., Stellariaceae Dum.

Habit and leaf form. Small trees (a few), or shrubs (a few), or herbs (mainly). ‘Normal’ plants. Plants non-succulent (usually), or succulent. Annual, or biennial. Helophytic to xerophytic. Leaves opposite (usually), or whorled (rarely), or alternate (rarely spiral); petiolate, or subsessile, or sessile, or perfoliate; connate, or not connate; simple; epulvinate. Lamina entire (entire). Leaves stipulate (often), or exstipulate. Stipules not ochreate.

Leaf anatomy. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (10 genera).

Stem anatomy. Cork cambium present, or absent; initially deep-seated. Nodes unilacunar. Internal phloem absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous; sometimes via concentric cambia (e.g. Spergularia, and sometimes (e.g. Acanthophyllum) producing a second series of bundles internally), or from a single cambial ring. ‘Included’ phloem present, or absent. Xylem with fibre tracheids, or without fibre tracheids; with libriform fibres, or without libriform fibres; with vessels. Vessel end-walls simple. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type III (b).

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite, or andromonoecious, or dioecious, or gynodioecious. Pollination entomophilous.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (usually), or solitary; in cymes. The ultimate inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences usually terminal; typically dichasial cymes going over into cincinni. Flowers regular; generally more or less 5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic, or pentacyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore (often), or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Hypogynous disk present.

Perianthwith distinct calyx and corolla, or sepaline (occasionally apetalous); (8–)10, or 5; 2 whorled (usually), or 1 whorled; isomerous. Calyx (4–)5; 1 whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; regular; imbricate; with the median member posterior. Corolla when present, (4–)5; 1 whorled; appendiculate (often, with an appendiculate scale above each petal claw), or not appendiculate; polypetalous; regular. Petals clawed (often), or sessile; deeply bifid to bilobed (often), or fringed, or entire.

Androecium (1–)5, or 8, or 10. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (sometimes adnate to the base of the corolla or the calyx); all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another; 1 whorled, or 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens (1–)5, or 8, or 10; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth (rarely), or isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous; oppositisepalous (usually), or alternisepalous (Colobanthus). Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral, or decussate. Anther wall initially with one middle layer; of the ‘dicot’ type, or of the ‘monocot’ type (?). Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; 3–12 aperturate; colpate (and sometimes rupate), or porate, or foraminate, or rugate; spinulose; 3-celled (10 genera).

Gynoecium 2–5 carpelled. The pistil 1–5 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary unilocular; 1 locular (at least distally, but often more or less partitioned below or when immature).Styles 2–5; free to partially joined; apical. Stigmas 2–5; dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation basal, or free central (generally, but the placenta sometimes reaching the apex). Ovules in the single cavity (1–)100 (i.e. occasionally few, usually ‘many’); ascending; non-arillate; hemianatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed, or not formed (then the three nuclei degenerating early); when formed, 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Synergids pear-shaped, or hooked (e.g. Spergula). Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny caryophyllad, or solanad.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent; a capsule (usually), or a nut (occasionally). Capsules usually denticidal, or valvular. Seeds endospermic, or non-endospermic. Endosperm not oily. Perisperm present. Seeds with starch. Cotyledons 2. Embryo achlorophyllous (14/18); curved (usually), or coiled, or straight (or almost so). The radicle dorsal (nearly always), or lateral (very rarely).

Seedling.Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present, or absent. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins nearly always absent (or a trace of cyanidin in Arenaria). Flavonols present, or absent; when present, kaempferol, or kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent (14 species, 11 genera). Betalains absent. Saponins/sapogenins present (commonly), or absent. C3 and C4. C3 physiology recorded directly in Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus,Gymnocarpos, Lychnis, Polycarpon, Silene, Spergularia,Stellaria, Tunica. C4 physiology recorded directly in Polycarpaea. Anatomy non-C4 type (Acanthophyllum, Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus,Drymaria, Gymnocarpos, Lychnis, Polycarpon, Pollichia,Sagina, Silene, Spergula, Spegularia, Stellaria,Uebelina), or C4 type (Polycarpaea).

Geography, cytology. Frigid zone to tropical. Cosmopolitan. X = 5–19.

Taxonomy.Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Caryophylliflorae; Caryophyllales. Cronquist’s Subclass Caryophyllidae; Caryophyllales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Caryophyllanae; Order Caryophyllales.

Species 1750. Genera 88; Acanthophyllum, Achyronychia, Agrostemma,Allochrusa, Alsinidendron, Ankyropetalum, Arenaria,Bolanthus, Bolbosaponaria, Brachystemma, Bufonia, Cardionema,Cerastium, Cerdia, Colobanthus, Cometes, Cucubalus,Cyathophylla, Dianthus, Diaphanoptera, Dicheranthus,Drymaria, Drypis, Geocarpon, Gymnocarpos, Gypsophilla,Habrosia, Haya, Herniaria, Holosteum, Honckenya,Illecebrum, Kabulia, Krauseola, Kuhitangia, Lepyrodiclis,Lochia, Loeflingia, Lychnis, Mesostemma, Microphyes,Minuartia, Moehringia, Moenchia, Myosoton, Ochotonophila,Ortegia, Paronychia, Pentastemonodiscus, Petrocoptis,Petrorhagia, Philippiella, Phrynella, Pinosia, Pirinia,Pleioneura, Plettkia, Pollichia, Polycarpaea, Polycarpon,Polytepalum, Pseudostellaria, Pteranthus, Pycnophyllopsis,Pycnophyllum, Reicheella, Sagina, Sanctambrosia, Saponaria,Schiedea, Scleranthopsis, Scleranthus, Sclerocephalus,Scopulophila, Selleola, Silene, Spergula, Spergularia,Sphaerocoma, Stellaria, Stipulicida, Thurya, Thylacospermum,Uebelinia, Vaccaria, Velezia, Wilhelmsia, Xerotia.

Economic uses, etc. Numerous ornamentals, e.g. 70 or more species of Dianthus (including carnation), Gypsophila,Silene, Lychnis, and some widespread weeds (Cerastium, Arenaria).


  • Technical details: Agrostemma, Cucubalus, Drypis, Melandrium (= Silene), Viscaria.
  • Technical details: Gypsophila, Saponaria, Stellaria.
  • Technical details: Bufonia, Dianthus, Cerastium, Colobanthus, Holosteum, Spergularia, Stellaria.
  • Technical details: Polycarpaea (Thonner).
  • Technical details: Scleranthus, Anychia (= Paronychia).
  • Technical details (Illecebrum, Dicheranthus).
  • Agrostemma githago (as Lychnis githago): Eng. Bot. 215, 1864.
  • Arenaria norvegica: Eng. Bot. 237, 1864.
  • Cucubalus baccifer (as C. bacciferus): Eng. Bot. 198, 1864.
  • Cerastium diffusum (as C. tetrandrum), C. glomeratum and C. arcticum (as C. latifolium): Eng. Bot. 218, 221 and 224, 1864.
  • Cerastium alpinum, C. arvense and C. cerastoides (as C. trigynum): Eng. Bot. 223, 225 and 226, 1864.
  • Dianthus armeria, D. deltoides, D. gratianopolitanus (as D. caesius), D. caryophyllus: Eng. Bot. 191–194, 1864.
  • Holosteum umbellatum: Eng. Bot. 216, 1864.
  • Honckenya peploides (as Alsine peploides): Eng. Bot. 239, 1864.
  • Lychnis flos-cuculi and L. viscaria: Eng. Bot. 212–213, 1864.
  • Lychnis coronata: as L. bungeana, Bot. Reg. 1864 (1836).
  • Minuartia rubella (as Alsine rubella), M. stricta (as Alsine uliginosa), M. hybrida ssp. tenuifolia (as Alsine tenuifolia): Eng. Bot. 242–244, 1864.
  • Minuartia rubra ssp. fastigiata (as Alsine fastigiata): Eng. Bot. 243, 1864.
  • Minuartia sedoides (= Cherleria sedoides, as Alsine cherleria): Eng. Bot. 240, 1864.
  • Moenchia erecta (as Cerastuim quaternellum): Eng. Bot. 217, 1864.
  • Moehringia trinervia (as Arenaria trinervia): Eng. Bot. 234, 1864.
  • Myosoton aquaticum (as Stellaria aquatica): Eng. Bot. 227, 1864.
  • Polycarpon tetraphyllum: Eng. Bot. 258, 1864.
  • Sagina subulata, S. procumbens and S. nodosa: Eng. Bot. 248–251, 1864.
  • Saponaria officinalis: Eng. Bot. 197, 1864.
  • Silene acaulis: Eng. Bot. 205, 1864.
  • Silene vulgaris (as S. inflata), S. maritima, S. conica: Eng. Bot. 199–201, 1864.
  • Silene gallica (as S. anglica and S. quinquevulnera): Eng. Bot. 202–203, 1864.
  • Silene nutans and S. noctiflora: Eng. Bot. 207 and 209, 1864.
  • Silene latifolia (as S. pratensis) and S. dioica (as S. diurna): Eng. Bot. 210–211, 1864.
  • Silene coeli-rosa: as Viscaria oculata, Bot. Reg. 29, 53 (1843).
  • Spergula arvensis: Eng. Bot. 253, 1864.
  • Spergularia rubra and S. media (as S. marginata): Eng. Bot. 254 and 257, 1864.
  • Stellaria nemorum, S. media and S. uliginosa: Eng. Bot. 228, 229 and 233, 1864.
  • Stellaria holostea and Stellaria graminea: Eng. Bot. 230 and 232, 1864.
  • British Silenoideae (Agrostemma, Silene: B. Ent. compilation).
  • British Silenoideae (Silene: B. Ent.).
  • British Silenoideae (Dianthus), Alsinoideae (Scleranthus): B. Ent. compilation.
  • British Alsinoideae (Myosoton, Cerastium: B. Ent, compilation).
  • British Alsinoideae (Stellaria, Moehringia: B. Ent. compilation).
  • British Alsinoideae (Sagina, Honkenya, Moenchia, Arenaria, Spergularia: B. Ent. compilation).
  • ‘Franklin's Tartar’ (freak cultivated Carnation: Bot. Mag. 2, 1788).
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