Directory       News       Site Map       Home
    Jepson eFlora
Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.



Ronald L. Hartman & Richard K. Rabeler, except as noted

Annual to perennial herb; rarely dioecious (Silene), taprooted or rhizome generally slender. Leaf: simple, generally opposite (subwhorled), entire, pairs at nodes often ± connected at bases; stipules generally 0; petiole generally 0. Inflorescence: generally cyme, generally open; flowers 1–many; involucre generally 0 (present in Dianthus, Petrorhagia). Flower: generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium often present but obscure; sepals (4)5, ± free or fused into a tube, margins generally scarious, more so on inner 2 or not, tube generally not scarious, awns generally 0; petals (4)5 or 0, generally tapered to base (or with claw long, limb expanded), entire to 2–several-lobed, limb generally without scale-like appendages adaxially, generally without ear-like lobes at base; stamens generally 10, generally fertile, generally free, generally from ovary base; nectaries 0 or 5; ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, placentas basal or free-central, styles 2–5 with 0 branches or 1 with 2–3 branches. Fruit: capsule or utricle (rarely ± dehiscent), generally sessile. Seed: appendage generally 0 (present in Moehringia).
83 or 89 genera, 3000 species: widespread, especially arctic, alpine, temperate northern hemisphere; some cultivated (Agrostemma, Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus, Gypsophila, Lychnis, Sagina, Saponaria, Silene, Vaccaria). [Rabeler & Hartman 2005 FNANM 5:3–215] Apetalous Caryophyllaceae can also be keyed in Rabeler & Hartman 2005 FNANM 5:5–8. —Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Caryophyllaceae

1. Fruit utricle (± dehiscent in Achyronychia, Scopulophila); petals 0 or < 0.6 mm, scale-like; stamens on hypanthium rim; stipules present (except Scleranthus), scarious

2. Stipules 0; hypanthium in fruit hard ..... SCLERANTHUS

2' Stipules present; hypanthium in fruit ± hard or not (subfamily Paronychioideae)

3. Sepals widely ovate to reniform or round, margin scarious, awns 0; staminodes 14–19, thread-like, or 5, oblong, petal-like

4. Annual, base ± glabrous; stem prostrate to ascending; staminodes 14–19, ± 0.5 mm, thread-like, not petal-like; nectaries 0; style 2-branched ..... ACHYRONYCHIA

4' Perennial herb, base densely woolly; stem erect; staminodes (pistillate flowers only) 5, 1–1.5 mm, oblong, petal-like; nectaries 5, wide; style 3-branched ..... SCOPULOPHILA

3' Sepals lanceolate to oblong (if ovate or obovate, margin scarious, awns present, or margin not scarious, awns 0), margins scarious or not; staminodes 0 or 4–5, thread-like

5. Stipules 0.4–1 mm; sepal awn 0, hairs ± long, stiff, often hooked, margin green, not scarious ..... HERNIARIA

5' Stipules 1–8 mm; sepal awn 0.5–4 mm, hairs not as above, margin white, scarious, at least below

6. Sepal awn stout, spine-tipped, 1.5–4 mm; sepals densely woolly ..... CARDIONEMA

6' Sepal awn thread-like to ± stout, ± not spine-tipped, 0.5–1.5 mm; sepals not woolly ..... PARONYCHIA

1' Fruit capsule; petals generally present, > (0.6)1 mm, not scale-like; stamens on ovary base or disk surrounding ovary or ovary stalk; stipules generally 0

7. Sepals fused, tube prominent, lobes or teeth < tube (except Agrostemma); petal claw generally > limb, generally appendaged adaxially near limb base (subfamily Silenoideae)

8. Styles 3–5; fruit valves or teeth 3–6 or 10

9. Calyx lobes > tube, generally 12–50 mm, linear, tube strongly 10-ribbed, with long, ascending, appressed hairs ..... AGROSTEMMA

9' Calyx lobes or teeth < tube, < 13 mm, triangular to awl-like, tube not as above (except Lychnis with lobes 4–7 mm)

10. Styles (4)5, flowers bisexual; fruit teeth (4)5; plant densely silky-hairy to tomentose ..... LYCHNIS

10' Styles 3(4,5), if 5 then flowers unisexual (taxa dioecious); fruit teeth 6, 10; plant glabrous or variously hairy but not as above ..... SILENE

8' Styles 2; fruit valves or teeth generally 4

11. Flower or flowers subtended by 2–6 involucre bracts

12. Calyx veins 20–45, tube not scarious between sepals; involucre bracts green, not scarious, linear to lanceolate, generally < 1 mm wide (ovate, 1.5–2.5 mm wide in Dianthus deltoides) ..... DIANTHUS

12' Calyx veins 15, tube scarious between sepals; involucre bracts red to brown, scarious, widely ovate, generally 5–12 mm wide ..... PETRORHAGIA

11' Flower or flowers not subtended by involucre bracts

13. Stamens 5; calyx narrowly cylindric, 0.8–1 mm diam; flowers generally 1 in axils ..... VELEZIA

13' Stamens 10; calyx cup-shaped to widely tubular, 1.5–9 mm diam; flowers few to many, in open to head-like, terminal cyme

14. Calyx tube ± 1.3–5 mm, cup- to bell-shaped, white-scarious between sepals ..... GYPSOPHILA

14' Calyx tube 7.5–20 mm, lanceolate to oblong-cylindric or cylindric to urn-shaped, green, not scarious between sepals

15. Perennial herb; inflorescence dense; pedicels generally 0–3 mm; calyx angles or keels 0; petal appendages 2 ..... SAPONARIA

15' Annual; inflorescence open; pedicels 5–40+ mm; calyx angles or keels 5; petal appendages 0 ..... VACCARIA

7' Sepals ± free; petal claw < limb or generally 0, unappendaged

16. Stipules 0.4–11 mm, widely triangular to bristle-like, scarious (subfamily Polycarpoideae)

17. Leaf blade oblanceolate to obovate, petiole generally ± present; style 1, 3-branched, 0.1–0.3 mm (stipules not bristle-like) ..... POLYCARPON

17' Leaf blade awl-like to linear, petiole 0; styles 3–5, free, generally 0.3–3 mm (if shorter, then stipules bristle-like)

18. Leaves opposite but appearing whorled due to axillary clusters of 16–30 per node; styles, fruit valves 5 ..... SPERGULA

18' Leaves opposite, often with axillary clusters of < 16 per node but not appearing whorled; styles, fruit valves 3

19. Inflorescence axillary, flowers 1–2; sepals awned; petals 0 or vestigial; stipules bristle-like ..... LOEFLINGIA

19' Inflorescence terminal, flowers few to many; sepals not awned; petals present; stipules lanceolate to widely triangular ..... SPERGULARIA

16' Stipules 0 (subfamily Alsinoideae)

20. Petals ± 2-lobed, generally > 1/2 to base (petals sometimes 0 in Stellaria, Cerastium; lobes < 1/5 to base in Pseudostellaria)

21. Fruit cylindric, often ± curved in upper 1/2, opening by (8)10 teeth ..... CERASTIUM

21' Fruit ± ovoid or spheric to cylindric-oblong, not curved in upper 1/2, opening by 6 (8 or 10) valves

22. Petals 2-lobed < 1/5 to base; fruit spheric, valves ± 2–3 × recoiled; seeds 1–2; rhizomes with tuber-like thickenings 3–12 mm diam or with ± vertical fleshy roots ..... PSEUDOSTELLARIA

22' Petals 0 or 2-lobed > 1/2 to base; fruit ± ovoid or spheric to cylindric-oblong, valves ascending to recurved, not recoiled; seeds several to many; rhizomes with neither tuber-like thickenings nor vertical fleshy root ..... STELLARIA

20' Petals entire, irregularly toothed, or ± notched (sometimes 0 in Minuartia, Moenchia, Sagina)

23. Petals ± irregularly toothed; inflorescence umbel-like; fruit opening by 6 teeth ..... HOLOSTEUM

23' Petals 0 or entire or notched; inflorescence not umbel-like (except Eremogone congesta); fruit opening by 6 or 8 teeth or 3–6 valves

24. Fruit teeth 8; petals (0)4; plant erect; leaf blade ± linear, rigid, acute ..... MOENCHIA

24' Fruit valves or teeth 3–6; petals 0 or 5 (if 4 then plant not erect, leaf blade not linear, not rigid, not acute)

25. Styles 4–5; fruit valves 4–5 ..... SAGINA

25' Styles 3; fruit valves 3 or 6 or teeth 6

26. Ovary sutures 3; fruit valves 3 ..... MINUARTIA

26' Ovary sutures 6; fruit teeth or valves 6

27. Leaf blades needle-like to narrowly linear, often congested at or near base of flowering stems, tips generally sharp-pointed ..... EREMOGONE

27' Leaf blades ovate to lanceolate (narrowly so or not), not congested at or near base of flowering stems, tips generally acute to acuminate

28. Seed appendage 0; rhizome 0 ..... ARENARIA

28' Seed appendage ± 0.7 mm, ± elliptic, spongy; rhizome slender, branched ..... MOEHRINGIA


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
We encourage links to these pages, but the content may not be downloaded for reposting, repackaging, redistributing, or sale in any form, without written permission from The Jepson Herbarium.