Family Brassicaceae

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Family Brassicaceae members date back to over 3000 years ago and are commonly called members of the Mustard family.  They are also known as Crucifers as they have four petals which are arranged in a cross-like appearance.  They form a group of vegetables rich in vitamin C (exceeding even citrus fruits).    There are aout 300 genera and over 3000 species in this family.

Taxonomic position of Brassicaceae (Cruciferae):

Kingdom : Plantae

Sub-kingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular plants containing xylem and phloem)

Super-division: Spematophyta (Seed plants)

Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering)

Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledon)

Sub-class: Dilleniidae

Order: Capparels

Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Brassica

* Habit:  Annual or biennial herbs

* Habitat:  Mostly tropical although many are also cosmopolitan in distribution.

* Root:  Tap root.  My or may not be storage in function.

*  Stems:  Herbaceous, erect and vertical and branched

*  Leaves:  Alternate, lobed and with fine hair.  Edible.  sometimes lobed, petiolate, exstipulate (no stalk) with reticulate venation  (arrangement of veins on the leaf in a netted manner)

* Inflorescence:  Raceme or corymb

* Flower:  Ebracteate (no bracts) , pedicellate (flower growing on a pedicle or stalk) , mostly actinomorphic (regular arrangement of floral parts), bisexual, heterochlamydeous (distinct calyx or corolla), dimerous  (twpo members in each whorl) or tetramerous (members in threes)  and hypogynous (ovary in superior position or raised above other floral parts)

*  Calyx:  4, polysephalous (independent sepals), imbricate aestivation and in two whorls

* Corolla:  4 in single whorl, polypetalous (independent petals), claw like petals with valvate aestivation. 

* Androecium:  6 stamens arranged in two whorls or 2 and 4.  Outer 2 are short and the inner 4 are long.  Anthers are basifixed (attached to the base of the petals), bilobed and introse (anthers face the centre of the flower).

* Gynoecium:  Bicarpellary (two carpels), syncarpous (carpels are fused), one or more ovules on parietal placentation, style short, stigma bifid, ovary is superior in position.

* Fruit:  Siliqua or silicula

* Seeds:  Endospermic

Common Examples

B.oleracea  var.capitata - cabbage

B.oleracea var. botrytis - knol khol

B.oleracea var. caulorapa - corm

Brassica campestris - yellow mustard seeds yield oil

Cheiranthus sp.

Eruca sativa

Iberis amara (candy tuft)

Lepidium sativum

Nasturtium indica

Raphanus sativus - radish

Sysimbrium officinale

Related link:

Everything you need to know about brassica vegetables

More about this author: Amanda Mittra

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