Common name. Carrot Family.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs (mostly), or shrubs (some), or ‘arborescent’, or trees (few); bearing essential oils, or without essential oils; resinous, or not resinous. Switch-plants (occasionally), or ‘normal’ plants; occasionally phyllodineous (e.g. Lilaeopsis). Plants succulent (occasionally, e.g. Crithmum), or non-succulent. Annual, or biennial, or perennial; plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Helophytic, or mesophytic. Leaves small to large; alternate; ‘herbaceous’ (usually), or leathery (occasionally), or fleshy (rarely); petiolate, or perfoliate (Bupleurum); more or less sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves gland-dotted, or not gland-dotted; aromatic, or foetid, or without marked odour (rarely); simple, or compound; peltate (sometimes), or not peltate; pulvinate, or epulvinate; when compound ternate, or pinnate, or bipinnate, or multiply compound, or palmate (rarely). Leaf blades when simple entire (commonly in Hydrocotyloideae), or dissected (usually); when simple/dissected pinnatifid (usually), or palmately lobed (rarely); pinnately veined, or palmately veined, or parallel-veined. Leaves with stipules (Hydrocotyloideae), or without stipules (usually, but sometimes with ‘stipular flanges’); without a persistent basal meristem. Stem anatomy. Nodes multilacunar (usually), or tri-lacunar. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous; from a single cambial ring.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite, or hermaphrodite and functionally male, or functionally male, or functionally female, or hermaphrodite, functionally male, and functionally female. Unisexual flowers present, or absent. Plants hermaphrodite (usually), or andromonoecious, or polygamomonoecious, or dioecious (Acronema). Entomophilous.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in umbels (nearly always), or in heads. The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences terminal; often cymose umbels or heads arranged in cymose inflorescences, sometimes reduced to single flowers; with involucral bracts (usually, and/or with involucels), or without involucral bracts; pseudanthial (often, this phenomenon commonly associated with sterile flowers at the periphery), or not pseudanthial. Flowers bracteate; mostly small; regular to somewhat irregular. The floral asymmetry involving the perianth (the corolla only). Flowers 5 merous (except for the gynoecium); cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (usually, but the calyx usually very reduced), or sepaline (corolla rarely absent), or petaline (calyx teeth sometimes lacking); 4–10; 2 -whorled, or 1 -whorled (rarely); isomerous. Calyx present, or vestigial, or absent; when detectable, 5; 1 -whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous (usually much reduced, and never exhibiting a calyx tube); lobulate, or blunt-lobed, or toothed; persistent; with the median member posterior. Corolla 5; 1 -whorled; polypetalous; valvate; unequal but not bilabiate, or regular; white, or yellow, or pink, or purple. Fertile stamens present, or absent (female and sterile flowers). Androecium 5. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal to markedly unequal; free of one another; 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 5; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous; inflexed in bud. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent (male and sterile flowers). Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil (1–)2 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious; inferior. Ovary unilocular, or plurilocular; (1–)2 locular. Gynoecium median. Epigynous disk present. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 2; free to partially joined (their bases thickened into one or two stylopodes crowning the ovary); apical. Stigmas wet type; non-papillate; Group IV type. Placentation axile, or apical. Ovules 1 per locule, or 2 per locule (usually two, but one abortive); pendulous; epitropous; non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; a schizocarp. Mericarps 2 (united facially, 1-seeded, the integument sometimes united with the pericarp). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Embryo well differentiated (often small). Cotyledons 2. Embryo achlorophyllous (10/10); straight. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.
Physiology, biochemistry. Aluminium accumulation not found. Photosynthetic pathway: C3.
Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: cosmopolitan, but mainly North temperate. X = (4-)8–11(-12). 2850 species.
Economic uses, etc. Important sources of many foodstuffs and condiments: Daucus (carrot), Pastinaca (parsnip), Apium (celery), Petroselinum (parsley), Pimpinella (anise), Carum (caraway), Anethum (dill), Anthriscus (chervil), Foeniculum (fennel), Levisticum (lovage). Ornamentals: Eryngium, Angelica, Heracleum, Trachymene etc. Some with notoriously poisonous resins or alkaloids: Cicuta, Conium (hemlocks), Aethusa (fool's parsley).