Apiaceae: Diagnostic characters, Economic importance, Phylogeny, Classification

Classification of Apiaceae according to Bentham and Hooker, Economic importance of Apiaceae

Diagnostic characteristics of Apiaceae:

  • Aromatic herbs with hollow internodes.
  • Leaves compound with a sheathing base.
  • Inflorescence umbel or compound umbel with an involucral bract.
  • Petals incurved in the bud.
  • Yellow or white.
  • Stamens 5, inflexed in the bud,
  • Style flattened at base forming stylopodium.
  • Ovary bicarpellary, bilocular, generally inferior with pendulous apical placentation.
  • Fruit a cremocarp (Schizocarp) with stylopodium at the apex.
  • Two mericarps of Schizocarp are joined together by thin stock called as carpophore.
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Economic importance of Apiaceae:

  1. Culinary Uses: Many Apiaceae plants are used as culinary herbs and spices. For example, dill, fennel, coriander, and parsley are commonly used in cooking and are important flavouring agents.
  2. Medicinal Uses: Several plants in the Apiaceae family have been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. For example, the roots of Angelica archangelica are used to treat stomach problems and stimulate appetite, while the seeds of Carum carvi are used to relieve flatulence and colic.
  3. Essential Oils: The essential oils extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits of many Apiaceae plants are used in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavourings.
  4. Commercial Products: Many Apiaceae plants are cultivated for their commercial value. For example, the seeds of Anethum graveolens are used to make dill oil, while the roots of Pastinaca sativa are used to make the flavouring agent, apiol.
  5. Vegetable Crops: Some Apiaceae plants, such as celery and parsnips, are cultivated as vegetable crops and are important sources of nutrition.
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Phylogeny of Apiaceae:

  1. Apiaceae and Araliaceae were once considered closely related families and often included in the same order.
  2. Hutchinson separated them into distinct orders, Lignosae and Herbaceae.
  3. Most recent classifications place them closer together under Araliales or Apiales.
  4. The Monophyly of the family is supported by morphology, secondary metabolites, rbcL and matK sequences.
  5. Earlier studies indicated Apiaceae are most closely related to Pittosporaceae, but recent data points to Pittosporaceae being the sister taxon of the whole group.
  6. The family Apiaceae is usually divided into two subfamilies: Saniculoideae and Apioideae.
  7. Saniculoideae has broad leaves with hairy or thorny leaf teeth, fruit scaly or spiny, and poorly developed vittae.
  8. Apioideae has compound umbels, carpophore-free, bifid, and mericarps attached at the apex.

Overall, Apiaceae and Araliaceae have a complex and evolving relationship within the plant classification system. Recent data suggests a closer relationship with Pittosporaceae, and the family Apiaceae is further divided into two subfamilies based on distinct characterisation.


Classification of Apiaceae according to APG IV :

APG IV: Kingdom: Plantae

Clade: Tracheophytes

Clade: Angiosperms

Clade: Eudicots

Clade: Asterids

Order: Apiales

Family: Apiaceae

Classification of Apiaceae according to Bentham and Hooker:

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Umbellales

Family: Apiaceae

As you can see, both classifications have the same Kingdom, Division, and Class. However, they differ in their higher classifications. APG IV places Apiaceae in the Asterids clade and the Apiales order, while Bentham and Hooker place it in the Umbellales order.


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