Family Umbrella: characteristics, representatives, photos
Umbrella plants are a family of dicotyledons belonging to the Araliae order. Consists of 434 genera and more than 3,780 species. It is distributed throughout the world, although most of the representatives are concentrated in the temperate geographic zone and much less often in tropical regions. Umbrellas include many important vegetable crops for humans, herbs and spices, medicinal and ornamental garden plants, as well as some poisonous species and weeds.
Description and characteristics of the Umbrella family
Most of the representatives are spicy herbs with alternate, pinnate, dissected leaves, which when rubbed emit aromatic oils. Stipules are usually absent. Stems - striated, with hollow internodes. Inflorescences are often in the form of an umbrella or a head with a flat top, consisting of several flowers. The flowers themselves are usually small, mostly bisexual, actinomorphic.Each of them has five small but distinct sepals, five petals and an enlarged center. Attractive honey inflorescences are often visited by ants and other small insects. Fruits in the form of a visloplodar consist of two parts, which disintegrate at the end of the ripening period.
The benefits and harms of umbrella plants
Many members of the Umbrella family are often used as a seasoning and belong to vegetable crops. Their stems, stalks and fruits also contain abundant resin channels with oils, which is why they are highly valued in cooking and medicine. These are such popular plants as:
Some species are poisonous, including hemlock spotted, poisonous milestones (Tsikuta tasisha) and foolish parsley (Aethusa cynapium). Plants have long been used as medicines, for example, among these species are Gum ammonia and snyt ordinary. Individual members of the Umbrella family are grown for their decorative value: angelica dark purple, didiscus blue.
Many plants are often found at the same time medicinal and toxic properties. Separate species from the Umbrella were used to create various poisons.The most famous of them is considered hemlock. It was used as a means to the death penalty in ancient Greece. For example, the famous philosopher Socrates was convicted by a jury of 501 Athenians and should be drunk infusion of hemlock spotted.
Hogweed - harmful weed
Hogweed is another dangerous member of the Umbrella family, although some species (Hogweed Siberian and Hogweed common) are traditional fodder crops. Handle this plant with extreme care. Gardeners, noticing it in their garden area, immediately uproot the plant. Hogweed is often confused with a hemlock. On the stem of his poisonous relative there is a whitish plaque, which is erased, if you run your finger over it. Contact with parts of this plant causes strong photodermatitis. The oils secreted by leaves and stems, remain on the skin, because of which properties that protect it from sunlight are lost. The human body begins to be covered with small burns, similar to sores. If more than 80% of the skin is affected, it can be a threat to human life.
Fighting with Hogweed
Hogweed is very difficult to fight with conventional means.Therefore, weeds often settle on abandoned fields and other places where the soil is not cultivated. It is almost impossible to uproot giant adult plants that reach more than two meters in height with the help of an ordinary shovel: poisonous juice is able to penetrate even through dense material. It is necessary to begin the fight against cow parsnip, barely noticing the young shoots on the plot. While the root system is shallow, the weed can be uprooted and destroyed.
Wild parsnip is a dangerous relative of a wholesome plant
There are some more poisonous species that need to be known. Many of them are practically indistinguishable from their domesticated relatives, but they cannot be eaten. For example, wild parsnip looks very similar to another member of the Umbrella family - it is a parsnip sown or meadow. But, unlike its cousin, the root of this plant is not edible. Other properties of plants are almost identical: in their stems and leaves contain essential oils, flavonoids and vitamins.
Main characteristics of wild parsnip
The form of foliage and fruit in wild parsnip does not differ from hogweed, but the stems are not pubescent, and the flowers are of a brighter shade. It spreads along the banks of rivers and lakes, on abandoned fields and along roads.This herb of the family Umbrella usually grows in groups. Stems and leaves are used in traditional medicine for treatment as a diuretic for edema, as an expectorant - for coughing and for improving appetite. But you can not collect them manually, since all parts of the plant cause photodermatitis.
Pasternak meadow differs from its relative in the structure of the flower and the degree of pubescence of the stems. But young shoots are almost identical. Contact with them can also lead to burns, because plant care and harvesting is usually done with the help of technology.
Wild carrot - the progenitor of the popular root
Wild carrot is a close relative of the homemade carrot, but its root is much smaller and of irregular shape. The British called this plant "Queen Anne's Lace." According to legend, the wife of Jacob I, arriving in England from Denmark, suggested that local court ladies weave laces that are as light and elegant as wild carrot flowers. But no one could compare to the queen, a skilful lace maker, in this kind of needlework. The inflorescence of this species is umbrella-shaped, with a purple flower in the middle.There is a theory that it attracts pollinating insects by imitating a fly. To distinguish a wild carrot from its close relative, the hemlock, you should be aware of several features of its structure:
- bracts at the base of the umbrella;
- pubescent stem;
- small purple flower in the central part of the inflorescence.
Poisonous hemlock is a tall plant with a smooth, juicy, purple-spotted stem. Although “Queen Anne’s lace” is not considered a poisonous plant, it is important to remember that wild species retain chemical protection that is absent from cultivated varieties. Therefore, it is not recommended to approach them to pregnant or lactating women and people with poor health. In the photo, the Umbrella family is easy to separate from others due to the special structure of the inflorescence. But it is quite difficult to distinguish between some wild and cultural representatives. The usual precautions will help to preserve the health of everyone: it is better not to touch unknown plants, do not pluck their flowers and avoid eating root vegetables of unknown origin.