Physical World/Plants and other lifeforms

From Quiz Revision Notes

Flowering plants

The first flowering plants (angiosperms) evolved 140 million years ago

An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season

A biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems, and roots. It then enters a period of dormancy over the colder months. Many biennials require a cold treatment, or vernalization, before they will flower. During the next spring or summer, the stem of the biennial plant elongates greatly, or ‘bolts’. The plant then flowers, producing fruits and seeds before it finally dies, e.g. parsley, carrot, Sweet William

A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years

Half-hardy annuals can be grown outdoors, but not until the last frost has gone

Basal angiosperms

Basal angiosperms are the flowering plants which diverged from the lineage leading to most flowering plants. Five orders, including Amborellales, Nymphaeales, and Austrobaileyales

Amborella is a genus of rare shrubs or small trees in the order Amborellales endemic to New Caledonia. It represents a line of flowering plants that diverged very early on (about 130 million years ago) from all the other extant species of flowering plants

Nymphaeales – primitive order of aquatic plants with floating or submerged leaves

White water lily (Nymphaea alba) has large leaves, with stomata on the upper surface

Water lily – largest bloom of British plants

Victoria amazonica – giant water lily

Star anise is a member of the order Austrobaileyales


Magnoliids are a group of about 9000 species of flowering plants, including magnolias, nutmeg, bay laurel, cinnamon, avocado, pawpaw, black pepper, tulip tree and many others. In botanical terms they are between basal angiosperms and monocotyledons

Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol

Nutmeg tree (Mystrica fragrans) is important for two spices derived from the fruit: nutmeg and mace

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking

Cinnamon – a small evergreen tree 10-15 m tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka and Southern India. The bark is widely used as a spice

Avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to Mexico and Central America. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit, a large berry that contains a single seed

Cananga odorata, commonly called ylang-ylang, is a tropical tree which originates from the Philippines and is valued for its perfume


Monocotyledons include grasses and palms, plus lilies, orchids, and many other ornamental plants

Araceae is a family of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the order Alismatales in which flowers are borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix. The spadix is usually accompanied by, and sometimes partially enclosed in, a spathe or leaf-like bract. Also known as the arum family, members are often colloquially known as aroids. This family of 107 genera and over 3700 species is most diverse in the New World tropics

Aracaea include – Lords and Ladies, Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera delicosa), Sweetheart plant, duckweed

Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is a flowering plant in the Araceae family with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world

Seagrasses are flowering plants from one of four plant families in the order Alismatales which grow in marine, fully saline environments

Arum maculatum is a common woodland plant species known by an abundance of common names including snakeshead, lords and ladies, cuckoo-pint, and jack in the pulpit

Asparagales – a diverse order. Many of its species used to be classified in the order Liliales. Includes hyacinth, asphodel, asparagus and –

Agave – botanical name for the maguey cactus from which tequila, mescal and pulque are made

Blue Agave, the tequila agave of the Agave tequilana species is a succulent that is an important economic product of Jalisco state in Mexico due to its role as the base ingredient of tequila

Iris – known as flag, or fleur-de-lys

Yellow flag – a species of iris

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalus) is known as the ‘fair maid of February’

Candlemass bells – snowdrops

Daffodil –Narcissus genus. Known as lent lily

The name Daffodil is derived from an earlier ‘Affodell’, a variant of Asphodel

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum belladonna)

Spider plant (Chlorophytum colosum)

Wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae. Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large clusters of white flowers

Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Lily-of-the-valley – (Convallaria majalis)

Cast-iron plant (Aspidestra elatior)

Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum augustifolium)

Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Hyacinthus is a small genus of bulbous flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae

Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth, garden hyacinth or Dutch hyacinth

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Muscari – grape hyacinth genus

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco). Red sap was once prized as ‘dragon’s blood’

Flowers of the Common fringe lily each open for only one day

Grand Christmas bells (Blandfordia grandiflora)

Saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) has purple flowers

Medicinal aloe (Aloe vera)

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria). Also known as Torch Lily

Orchidaceae – a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants commonly known as the orchid family. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with over 20,000 currently accepted species

Orchids have small bulb-like structures called pseudobulbs which store water

Flat-leaved vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia). Source of vanilla

Lady’s slipper, fairy slipper, hyacinth, tongue, lizard, military, common donkey, nun’s, bee – types of orchid

Allium cepa is also known as the bulb onion or common onion

Allium sativum is commonly known as garlic

Allium ampeloprasum is also known as wild leek

Allium schoenoprasum is the common name of chives

Liliales order includes Liliaceae, or the lily family, and also includes –

Wild tulip (Tulipa sylvestris)

Madonna lily (Lilium candidum). Used as a symbol of purity in Christian art

Meadow saffron. Crocus-like flowers. Poisonous

Arecales – this order is made up of one large family, the palm trees. Includes coconut, sugar, date, betel nut, and royal palm trees

Coco de Mer – a palm endemic to the Seychelles. The mature fruit contains the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The fruit, which requires 6 to 7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate, is sometimes also referred to as the Sea Coconut or Love Nut

Raffia palm – leaves of this palm tree from Madagascar are the largest of any tree

Rattans differ from other palms in having slender stems. Most of the world’s production comes from Indonesia

Commelinales – this order includes a variety of low-plants including Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina)

Poales – a large order of flowering plants in the monocotyledons, includes families of plants such as the grasses, bromeliads, and sedges

Poaceae – family of Poales commonly known as grasses. Includes – bamboo, common reed, giant reed, millet, and –

Oat (Avena sativa)

Barley (Hordeum vulgare)

Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Rice (Oryza sativa)

Maize (Zea mays). Edible corn is the female flower

Sorghum – cereal crop (Poaceae family) in semiarid tropics. Plants used for grain, fibre and fodder

Elephant grass – African and Asian species. Elephant grass has a very high productivity as a biofuel crop

Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum)

Sheep's fescue – species of grass

Ammophila is a genus consisting of two or three very similar species of grasses; common names for these grasses include Marram Grass, Bent Grass, and Beachgrass

Citronella – a tropical Asian grass (Cymbopogon nardus) having bluish-green, lemon-scented leaves and an essential oil often used to treat sunburn. Known as lemon grass. Used in cooking and in perfumes

Cortaderia – pampas grass

Cattail – also known as bulrush or reedmace

Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) – a family of monocot flowering plants of around 3170 species native mainly to the tropical Americas. The family includes both epiphytes and terrestrial species, including –

Pineapple (Ananas comosus). Introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus

Queen of the Andes – world's largest bromeliad. Single colossal flower spike

Cyperaceae – family of monocots known as sedges. Includes –

Papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus), from which the Ancient Egyptian writing material was made

Slender club-rush. Known as fibre-optic grass

Zingiberales – many species in this order grow giant leaves at the end of stalks. The ginger family, Zingiberaceae, is the largest in the order, which includes –

Prayer plant – folds its leaves together at night to conserve moisture

Cardamon – the world's third-most expensive spice, outstripped in price per weight only by saffron and vanilla. Small black seeds. Guatemala is main producer

Turmeric – widely cultivated tropical plant of India having yellow flowers and a large aromatic deep yellow rhizome

Musa acuminata is a species of wild banana native to Southeast Asia. It is the progenitor of modern edible bananas, along with Musa balbisiana

Musa cavendishii – Cavendish banana

Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease of banana plants caused by an ascomycete fungus

Panama disease is a fungal disease of the roots of banana plants

Bird-of-paradise – commonly known as a crane flower in South Africa

Traveller’s tree – named because the sheaths of the stems hold rainwater, which supposedly could be used as an emergency drinking supply. The enormous paddle-shaped leaves are borne on long petioles, in a distinctive fan shape. Ruffed lemurs are a known pollinator of the plant

Pandanales order includes –

Jipijapa palm, known as the Panama hat plant


Eudicotyledons evolved over 125 million years ago. Over 75% of the world’s flowering plants are classified as eudicots

Proteales order includes –

Protea – African plant, known as the sugarbush

Waratah – the most well-known species in this genus is Telopea speciosissima, which has bright red flowers and is the New South Wales state emblem

Macadamia nut. Native to coastal rainforest in Australia

London plane (Platanus hispanica). Tolerant of pollution

Banksia plants are naturally adapted to the presence of regular bushfires in the Australian landscape

Ranunculales order is named after the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Includes many familiar garden plants –

Buttercup – also known as crowfoot

Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

May Apple – also known as umbrella plant, wild mandrake, American mandrake or devil's apple

Lesser celandine – in the buttercup family

Bleeding heart is named for its heart-shaped flowers

Greater celandine – in the poppy family (Parpaveraceae)

Common poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Codeine and morphine are produced from the opium poppy

Iceland poppy is native to subpolar regions of northern Europe and North America

Wild clematis – known as traveller's joy, or old man's beard

Himalayan Clematis (Clematis montana) is also known as Anemone Clematis

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene)

Anemone is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the buttercup family

Hepatica – type of anemone. Also known as liverleaf or liverwort

Caltha palustris is commonly known as kingcup or marsh marigold. Member of the buttercup family

Delphinium is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae. The common name ‘larkspur’ is shared between perennial Delphinium species and annual species of the genus Consolida

Wolf's bane – toxic flowering plant. Also known as monkshood

Helleborus niger – known as Christmas rose

The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals is said to resemble an eagle's claw. The common name columbine comes from the Latin for dove, due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together

Caryophyllales are an order of flowering plants that includes the cacti, carnations, beets, and many carnivorous plants. Many members are succulent, having fleshy stems or leaves. Includes –

Love-lies-bleeding – the red colour of the inflorescences is due to a high content of betacyanins

Peyote cactus is well known for its psychoactive alkaloids particularly mescaline

Beet (Beta vulgaris) is a flowering plant. It is important because of its cultivated varieties, fodder beet, beetroot and sugar beet

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla) is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking

Old man cactus – has long white hairs on the stem

Saguaro cactus lives for up to 150 years. Can grow to 16m tall. The night blooming white and yellow flowers appear from April to June and the sweet, ruby-coloured fruit matures by late June

Claret cup hedgehog – cactus pollinated by hummingbirds

Schlumbergera is a genus of cacti with six species found in the coastal mountains of Brazil. This genus contains the popular house plants known by a variety of names including Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, Crab cactus and Holiday cactus

Christmas cactus has red or purple flowers

Prickly pear is also known as paddle cactus

Carnations, Pinks and Sweet Williams belong to the genus Dianthus

Gilliflower – carnation

Gypsophila – sometimes called ‘baby's breath’. Member of the carnation family. Its botanical name means ‘lover of chalk’

Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) was once used to make soap

Chickweed – is used as a salad vegetable

Bougainvillea, a South American climbing shrub with colorful bracts, is named after French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville

Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as ‘paper flower’ because the bracts are thin and papery

Four o'clock flower – flowers open during late afternoon

Drosera, commonly known as the sundews, comprise one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants. Leaves have numerous sticky hairs covered in insect-dissolving enzymes

Venus flytrap is found natively only in North and South Carolina and has hinged, two-lobed leaves

Pitcher plant is found in Borneo and grows on tree moss. Pitcher plants have evolved modified leaves known as pitfall traps – a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with liquid

Buckwheats are not related to wheat, as they are not cereals / grasses (family Poaceae); instead, buckwheat is related to sorrels, knotweeds, and rhubarb

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Common sorrel or garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a perennial herb that is cultivated as a garden herb or leaf vegetable (pot herb). Other names for sorrel include spinach dock and narrow-leaved dock

Armeria plants are sometimes known as Lady's Cushion, thrift, or sea pink

Polygonum cuspidatum – Japanese knotweed

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) is also known as goat nut, deer nut, and pignut. It is grown commercially for its oil, a liquid wax ester extracted from the seed

Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus, also called Poor-man's Asparagus, is a species of goosefoot

Armeria plants are sometimes known as ‘thrift’ or as the ‘sea pinks’ as they are often found on coastlines

Santalales order includes many species of parasitic plants, including –

Santalum is a genus of woody flowering plants, the most well known and commercially valuable of which is the Indian Sandalwood tree. Most are root parasites which photosynthesize their own food but tap the roots of other species for water and inorganic nutrients. Cultivated for fragrant oil

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is a hemi-parasite, bearing evergreen leaves that do some photosynthesis, and using the host mainly for water and mineral nutrients

Mistletoe was growing on a tree used to make the Cross of Jesus

Saxifragales order is named after saxifrage, Latin for ‘rock breaker’, as these plants grow in cracks in rocks and walls. Includes –

Flaming Katy is a herbaceous and commonly cultivated house plant native to Madagascar

Piggyback plant – grows plantlets from the petiole near the base of each leaf. The plantlets drop off, fall in the soil, and take root there

Common peony. Named after Paeon, a physician to the Greek gods, who obtained the plant on Mount Olympus from the mother of Apollo. Peonies have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant, flowers

Saxifraga x urbium, known as London Pride, rapidly colonized the bombed sites left by the London Blitz of the early 1940s

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)

Astilbe – genus of flowering plants known as false goat's beard

Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Crassulaceae, members of which are commonly known as stonecrops

Vitales order contains a single family, the Vitaceae or grape family. Includes –

Grapevine (Vitis vinifera)

Virginia creeper (Parthenociccus quinquefolia)

False Virginia Creeper – also known as Woodbine, or Grape Woodbine, is a woody vine

Gereniales order contains the Geraniaceaea (cranesbills) and Pelagronium (geraniums, also known as Storksbills in USA) families. Includes –

Apple pelargonium (Pelargonium odaratissimum). Cultivated for ‘oil of geranium’

Myrtales order includes the Myrtaceae or Myrtle family: Myrtle, clove, guava, allspice, and eucalyptus. All species are woody, with essential oils. Includes –

Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a flowering plant and the sole species of the Lawsonia genus. The name henna also refers to the dye prepared from the plant and the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Eucalyptus regnans, known variously by the common names mountain ash and Victorian ash, is a species native to southeastern Australia. Historically, it has been known to attain heights over 114 metres making it one of the tallest tree species in the world and the tallest flowering plant

Coolibah – gum tree (eucalyptus)

Tasmanian snow gum is the hardiest of all eucalyptus species

Callistemon – commonly referred to as bottlebrushes

Common myrtle (Myrtus communis). Aromatic leaves produce essential oils

Allspice (Pimenta dioica). From the Caribbean. Unripe fruit is dried and ground to make ‘allspice’

Clove (Syzgium aromaticum). The aromatic dried flower buds of this native of Indonesia and the Philippines are used as a spice

Guava – the fruit of this Mexican tree has a sweet, musky smell

Fuchsia – named after the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. Native to South America. The flowers are very decorative; they have a pendulous ‘teardrop’ shape. They are pollinated by hummingbirds

Hardy fuschia (Fuchsia magellenica). Originates from Chile

Rosebay Willowherb is also known as fireweed (mainly in North America)

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) – also known as suncup or sundrop. The seed oil has medicinal properties. Not related to the true primroses (Primula)

Cucurbitales order are mainly found in tropical areas. Gourd family and Begonia family. Includes –

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Varieties include the gherkin

Squash (Cucurbita pepo). Varieties include pumpkin, marrow, and courgette

Calabash – hard-shelled fruit floats in the sea for months and is used as a container

Luffa – a genus in the cucumber family. When the fruit is fully ripened it is very fibrous. The fully developed fruit is the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge

Squirting cucumber – when ripe, it squirts a stream of liquid containing its seeds, which can be seen with the naked eye

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Begonia is a genus in the family Begoniaceae. The genus contains about 1400 different plant species. The Begonias are native to moist subtropical and tropical climates

Fabales are an order of flowering plants that includes the families Fabaceae or legumes: the group is widely distributed and is the third-largest land plant family in terms of number of species, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera. The order includes –

Vicia is a genus of flowering plants commonly known as vetches

Astragalus is a large genus of about 3000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae. Known as milkvetch. There are more species of Astragalus than of any other genus of flowering plant

Mimosa is a genus of about 400 species of herbs and shrubs. The generic name is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘mimic’

Mimosa pudica, also called sensitive plant, sleepy plant and the touch-me-not, is a creeping annual or perennial herb whose compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, to protect them from predators, re-opening minutes later

Mimosa tenuiflora is best known for its use in shamanic ayahuasca brews (made from the jungle vine ayahuasca) due to the psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine found in its root bark

Japanese and Chinese are types of wisteria, named after botanist Caspar Wistar

Acacias are also known as thorntrees, whistling thorns or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias

Acacia senegal is a small deciduous acacia tree known by the common name Gum Arabic Tree

Golden Wattle – floral emblem of Australia

Mimiso is also known as silver wattle, or blue wattle

Peanut, or groundnut is a species in the legume family Fabaceae native to South America. Also known as the monkey nut

Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) is a medicinal plant native to Europe. The name vulneraria means ‘wound healer’

Tamarind (from Arabic: ‘Indian date’) is a tree in the family Fabaceae indigenous to tropical Africa. The tamarind tree produces edible, pod-like fruit which are used extensively in cuisines around the world. Other uses include traditional medicines and metal polishes

Pea (Pisum sativum)

Alfalfa, also called lucerne, is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family cultivated as an important forage crop for livestock

Clover (Trifolium), or trefoil, is a genus in the pea family. The most widely cultivated clovers are white clover (Trifolium repens) and red clover (Trifolium pratense)

Lentil (Lens culinaris) is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds

Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean or string bean is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible fruit, either the dry seed or the unripe fruit, both of which are referred to as beans

Phaseolus coccineus, known as runner bean, is a perennial vine with tuberous roots

Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) seeds contain high concentrations of levodopa, a direct precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine

Laburnum, commonly called golden chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the pea family Fabaceae. The species are common laburnum and alpine laburnum

Laburnum has yellow pea-flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous

Carob tree – pulp from the seed pods is a chocolate substitute

Chick pea – seeds can be used to make hummus

Liquorice is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra

Brooms form a tribe, Genisteae, of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous shrubs. The Plantagenet kings used common broom (Planta genista) as an emblem and took their name from it

Ulex (gorse or furze) is a genus comprising about 20 species of thorny evergreen shrubs

The legume seeds of lupins, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans, who cultivated the plants throughout the Roman Empire

Several species in the genus Indigofera are used to produce the dye indigo

Rooibos, meaning ‘red bush’, is a broom-like member of the Fabaceae family foiund in South Africa. The leaves are used to make a herbal tea called Rooibos or bush tea

Fagales order trees dominate the woodlands in which they grow. They have simple leaves and small, unisexual flowers that are pollinated by the wind. Includes –

Beech (Fagus) is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus having approximately 600 extant species in the family Fagaceae

Quercus robur is commonly known as the English oak or French oak

Cork oak – Quercus suber. Grows in Portugal and Spain

Quercus ilex – Holly oak

English and Sessile – oaks native to Britain

Birch is a broadleaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Betula in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and hornbeams

Alder is the common name of a genus of flowering plants and trees (Alnus) belonging to the birch family. They differ from the birches in that the female catkins are woody and do not disintegrate at maturity

Corylus avellana, the common hazel, is a species of hazel native to Europe and western Asia. Male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, while female catkins are very small and largely concealed in the buds. A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species

Carpinus betulus – European or common hornbeam. The wind-pollinated male and female catkins appear in early summer after the leaves

Betula pendula – Silver birch, has white bark. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins

A walnut is an edible seed of any tree of the genus Juglans, especially the Persian or English walnut, Juglans regia

Pecan – a species of hickory. The seeds of the pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavour

Malpighiales is one of the largest orders of flowering plants, containing about 16,000 species. The order is very diverse. Includes –

Acerola – also known as Barbados cherry

Hypericum perforatum – St John's Wort, used to treat depression

Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri

Euphorbia is the fourth largest genus of flowering plants. Members of the family and genus are commonly referred to as spurges

Crown of thorns – also known as Christ plant or Christ thorn, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family native to Madagascar

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The coloured bracts of the poinsettia, which are most often flaming red, are actually leaves. Poinsettia has yellow flowers

Castor oil plant, Ricinus communis. Its seed is the castor bean, which is the source of castor oil. The seed also contains ricin

Hevea brasiliensis – rubber tree. Latex is collected in the process known as rubber tapping

Linum (flax) is a genus in the flowering plant family Linaceae. The genus includes the common flax (L. usitatissimum), the bast fibre of which is used to produce linen and the seeds to produce linseed oil

Erythroxylaceae (or coca family) is a family of flowering trees and shrubs. The best-known species are the coca plants, the source of cocaine

Rafflesia arnoldii is a member of the genus Rafflesia. It is noted for producing the largest individual flower on earth, which smells of rotting flesh. Named after Stamford Raffles. Rafflesia is the national flower of Indonesia

Passiflora ligularis, commonly known as the sweet granadilla or Grenadia, produces an edible fruit

Passiflora edulis, commonly known as passion fruit or purple granadilla, produces an edible fruit

Flower of the passion fruit refers to the Passion of Christ on the cross

Passiflora quadrangularis, commonly known as the giant granadilla, produces a large edible fruit known as a badea

Black poplar (Populus nigra). Lombardy poplar is a cultivar of the black poplar

White poplar (Populus alba)

Aspen (Populus tremula) trembles because its’ wood was used to make Christ's cross

Aspens are trees of the willow family and comprise a section of the poplar genus

Willows, sallows and osiers form the genus Salix

Salix babylonica – weeping willow

Salix caprea – pussy willow

Salix alba – white willow. The bark is a source of salicin

Viola genus contains over 500 species, including pansies and violets

Heartsease – wild pansy, Viola tricolor

Rhizophoraceae is a family constituted by tropical or subtropical flowering plants. Among the better-known members are mangrove trees of the genus Rhizophora Oxalidales is an order of flowering plants. Includes –

Oxalis is the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae. Some species are colloquially known as false shamrocks, and some called sourgrasses. Contain oxalic acid

Carambola, also known as starfruit, is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola. The fruit is popular throughout Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific

Rosales order contains thorny or hairy plants, which are mostly insect-pollinated. Includes –

Hemp (Cannabis sativa). Oil is extracted from its seeds

Hop (Humulus lupulus)

Fig and breadfruit are members of the Mulberry family (Moraceae)

Black mulberry (Morus nigra). Cultivated for its fruit

Mulberry is red due to staining by the blood of Pyramus, in Greek mythology

Jackfruit – yields the largest tree-borne fruit

Ficus is a genus of woody trees, shrubs and vines in the family Moraceae, native throughout the tropics

Fig (Ficus carica) produces a commercial fruit called a fig. Other examples of figs include the banyans and the Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) which is also known as the Peepul or Bo tree

Rubber plant (Ficus robusta)

Jujube – cultivated for its fruit in China and India. Tastes like apple

Buckthorn plant bears fruits which are a black or red berry-like drupe

Firethorn – any of various thorny shrubs of the genus Pyracantha bearing small white flowers followed by hard red or orange-red berries

Rosaceae – rose family. The largest genus by far is Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds) with about 430 species

Orchard plum (Prunus domestica)

Almond (Prunus dulcis)

Peach (Prunus persica). Native to China

Wild cherry (Prunus avium). Wild ancestor of orchard cherries

Sakura or Cherry Blossom is the Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees, Prunus serrulata, and their blossoms

Blackthorn or sloe is a species of Prunus native to Europe and western Asia

Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Hybrid Tea is a Cultivar Group of roses, created by cross-breeding two different types of roses

La France – first Hybrid Tea rose, 1867

Peace – a Hybrid Tea rose with very large flowers and a light yellow to cream colour. It was developed by French horticulturist Francis Meilland in the 1930s

Floribunda – roses which produce clusters of flowers all season long and are generally bushier and more disease resistant than Hybrid Teas

Damask rose, the Damascus rose, or sometimes as the Rose of Castile, is a rose hybrid

Dog rose (Rosa canina)

Apothecary's rose (Rosa gallica). ‘Attar of roses’ is fragrant oil distilled from its petals

Sweet briar – Eglantine rose

Blackberry (Rubus fructicocus)

Common hawthorn produces white blossom in spring, followed by red fruits

Medlar – a small, bushy tree of the rose family that bears small fruits

Rowan or Mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia), is a species of the genus Sorbus native to most of Europe

Apple tree (Malus domesticus)

Common pear or European pear (Pyrus communis)

Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus. Dutch elm disease is caused by a member of the sac fungi (Ascomycota) affecting elm trees, and is spread by the elm bark beetle

Urtica dioica, often called common nettles or stinging nettles, have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals

Brassicales order contains many plants with bitter or fragrant oils. Includes –

Brassica oleracea is the species of plant that includes many common foods as cultivars, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, savoy, and Chinese kale. In its uncultivated form it is known as wild cabbage

Brussels sprouts are a source of folic acid

Caper bush, best known for the edible flower buds (capers), often used as a seasoning

Nasturtium is a genus of plant species in the family Brassicaceae, best known for edible watercresses

Tropaeolum, commonly known as nasturtium, literally ‘nose-twister’, is a genus of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants best known for the edible watercresses

Eruca sativa is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket

Wallflower (Erysimum) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Brassicaceae

Aubretia – a genus of flowering plants in the family Brassicaceae. The genus is named after Claude Aubriet, a French flower-painter

Lunaria Biennis – garden plant known as Honesty

Rose of Jericho is a resurrection plant which curls into a ball during droughts

Papaya, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya. The fruit is ripe when it feels soft and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue

Malvales order contains two large families: the rockrose family (Cistaceae) and the mallow family (Malvaceae). Includes –

Alcea, commonly known as hollyhocks, is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family

Gossypium is the cotton genus, in the mallow family. The cotton fibres protect seeds inside the fruit, or boll

Annatto – the food dye annatto comes from the spiny fruits of this plant

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family

Tilia is a genus commonly called lime trees. They are not closely related to the lime fruit. Other names include linden and basswood

Kola nut (cola) is the nut of the kola tree (Cola nitida). Kola nuts contain about 2% to 3.5% caffeine and are chewed for their stimulant effects

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao). Cocoa comes from the seeds, known as beans, made inside its fruit pods

Baobab – African tree having an exceedingly thick trunk and fruit that resembles a gourd and has an edible pulp called monkey bread. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described Adansonia digitata

Durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk

Sapindales order includes citrus fruits. Two large families: maple (Sapindaceae) and rue (Rutaceae). Includes –

Cashew tree is a tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple

Mango (Mangifera indica) is rich in vitamin A

Lemon (Citrus limon)

The fruit of the Citrus x sinensis is considered a sweet orange, whereas the fruit of the Citrus aurantium is considered a bitter orange (Seville orange). The orange is a hybrid, possibly between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Neroli oil comes from the white blossoms of the bitter orange tree

Key Lime (Citrus aurantiifolia)

Lychee was first described and introduced to the West in 1656 by Michael Boym, a Polish Jesuit missionary

Big-leaf mahogany is a species in the Meliaceae family. It is one of three Swietenia species that yields genuine mahogany timber

Phellodendron or cork-tree, is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Rutaceae

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Maple syrup is made by boiling sap collected during spring

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). Europe’s largest maple tree

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Frankincense, also called olibanum, is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra

Myrrh refers to several species of the genus Commiphora

Cornales order includes –

Hydrangea – produces blue flowers in acid soil, pink flowers in alkaline soil

Mock-orange (Philadelphus) is a genus of shrubs in the Hydrangeaceae family. Named for their orange-blossom fragrance

Dogwoods – a group of deciduous woody plants (shrubs and trees) in the family Cornaceae, genus Cornus

Ericales order includes the heather family (Ericaceae), the primrose family (Primulaceae) and the pitcher plant family (Sarraceniaceae). Includes –

Jacob's Ladder or Greek valerian is a hardy perennial

Phlox is a genus of perennial and annual plants

Rhododendron is a genus of over 1000 species of woody plants, either evergreen or deciduous. Most species have showy flowers. Azaleas make up two subgenera of Rhododendron. They are distinguished from ‘true’ rhododendrons by having only five anthers per flower

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Tree heath (Erica arborea) is a shrub or small evergreen tree. The wood is used for making smoking pipes, and is known as French brier

Persimmons are the edible orange fruits of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros

Actinidia deliciosa produces kiwi fruit (Chinese gooseberry)

Brazil nut is a South American tree, and also the name of the commercially harvested edible seed

Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries within the genus Vaccinium (a genus that also includes cranberries and bilberries)

Huckleberry – several plants related to the blueberries and bearing edible fruit

Boojum tree is nearly endemic to the Baja California Peninsula. Name taken from Lewis Carroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark

Gutta-percha – a genus of tropical trees native to Southeast Asia and northern Australasia. It is also an inelastic natural latex produced from the sap of these trees

Tea (Camellia sinensis). There are two major varieties used for tea, Chinese tea, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, and Assam tea, Camellia sinensis var. Assamica

Comfrey is a common name for plants in the genus Symphytum. Comfrey species are important herbs in organic gardening. It is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. One of the country names for comfrey was ‘knitbone’, a reminder of its traditional use in healing bone fractures

Myosotis (from the Greek: ‘mouse's ear’, after the leaf) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae that are commonly called forget-me-nots

Borage, also known as a starflower, is commercially cultivated for borage seed oil extracted from its seeds

Heliotrope – flowering plant in the borage family

Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is also known as poor man's weather-glass or shepherd's clock) and is a low-growing annual plant. Scarlet pimpernel flowers are open only when the sun shines

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Polyanthus – cross between primrose and cowslip, means ‘many flowers’

Busy Lizzie (Impatiens)

Cyclamen is a genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers

Gentianales order includes the gentians of mountains and gardens. Largest family is the madder falmily (Rubiaceae) with over 13,000 species. Includes –

Nerium oleander has historically been considered a poisonous plant based on a number of its compounds that may exhibit toxicity, especially to animals, when consumed in high amounts. Commonly known as oleander

Vinca – genus of European periwinkles

Cinchona is a genus in the family Rubiaceae, native to the tropical Andes forests. They are medicinal plants, known as sources for quinine (from the bark of the tree). The name of the genus is due to Carl Linnaeus, who named the tree in 1742 after a Countess of Chinchon, the wife of a viceroy of Peru

All coffee plants are classified in the family Rubiaceae

Coffea arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, in Ethiopia

Gardenia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after Alexander Garden, a Scottish-born American naturalist

Cape Jasmine – species of Gardenia

Strychnine tree (Strychnos nux-vomica) is a deciduous tree native to India. The seeds are a major source of the highly poisonous alkaloids strychnine and brucine

Gentiana is a genus of flowering plants. They are notable for their mostly large, trumpet-shaped flowers, which are often of an intense blue

Lamiales order includes –

Zebra plant has pale-veined leaves and spikes of yellow flowers. Used as a house plant

Lavandula (common name Lavender) is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – from Latin for ‘dew of the sea’

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Sage (Salvia officinalis), has blue to purplish flowers

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is sometimes known as Saint Joseph's Wort

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) in the family Lamiaceae is an essential oil extracted from it is used in aromatherapy

Common oregano (Origanum vulgare). Also known as wild marjoram

Bergamotis  an aromatic herb. Its odour is considered similar to that of the bergamot orange (the source of bergamot oil used to flavour Earl Grey tea)

Olive (Olea europaea)

Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known

Forsythia – named after Scottish botanist William Forsyth. Genus in the olive family Oleaceae. Yellow flowers

Syringa vulgaris (lilac or common lilac) is a species of flowering plant in the olive family, native to the Balkan Peninsula

Jasmine – a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family

Common jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

Privet – members of the genus Ligustrum, evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous shrubs and small trees in the olive family

Fraxinus is a genus of flowering plants in the olive family

Fraxinus excelsior is known as the ash, or European ash or common ash

Pinguicula, commonly known as the butterworts, is a genus of carnivorous plants that use sticky, glandular leaves to lure, trap, and digest insects in order to supplement the poor mineral nutrition they obtain from the environments

Utricularia, commonly and collectively called the bladderworts, is a genus of carnivorous plants. They capture small organisms by means of bladder-like traps

African violet (Saintpaulia)

Jacaranda – American plant with purple-blue flowers

Plantago is a genus of small plants commonly called plantains or fleaworts. They share this name with the very dissimilar plantain, a kind of banana

Speedwell – any of various plants of the genus Veronica, having opposite leaves and clusters of small, usually blue flowers

Hebe – native to Oceania, particularly New Zealand. Named after the Greek goddess of youth

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is the original source of the heart medicine digoxin, (also called digitalis or digitalin)

Antirrhinum is a genus of plants commonly known as snapdragons or dragon flowers

Buddleja davidii is also called summer lilac or butterfly-bush. It is named for the Basque missionary and explorer in China, Father Armand David

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis

Solanales order includes the Family Solanaceae (nightshade family; potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, tobacco, and petunias) and the Family Convolvulaceae (morning glory and sweet potato). Includes –

Solanum is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, including the potato and the tomato

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) was bred from South American ancestors

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) originated in the South American Andes and its use as a food originated in Mexico

Capsicum – pepper genus. The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin, a chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth

Nicotiana tabacum, or cultivated tobacco, is a perennial herbaceous plant

Henbane, also known as stinking nightshade, is poisonous, narcotic, and evil-smelling

Petunia is genus of flowering plants of South American origin

Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

Convolvulaceae, known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, is a family of more than 1650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs

Great bindweed (Convolvulus sylvaticus)

Morning glory has funnel-shaped flowers that only open in the morning

Common dodder is a parasite

Apiales order includes –

Apiaceae or Umbelliferae is a family of usually aromatic plants with hollow stems. It includes cumin, parsley, carrot, dill, caraway and fennel

Wild carrot, bishop's lace, or Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to temperate regions of Europe and southwest Asia; domesticated carrots are cultivars of a subspecies, Daucus carota subsp. sativus

Apium graveolens is commonly known as celery or celeriac, depending on whether the petioles (stalks) or roots are eaten: celery refers to the former and celeriac to the latter

Hemlock is a member of the parsley family

Dill seeds are used in gripewater manufacture. Dill is good at relieving gas (wind)

Lovage – smells similar to celery (Apiales)

Eryngium is a genus of flowering plants known as sea holly

Angelica archangelica, commonly known as Garden Angelica or Wild Celery, is cultivated for its sweetly scented edible stems and roots

Ginseng belongs to the genus Panax, meaning ‘all-heal’ in Greek, sharing the same origin as ‘panacea’

Ivy (Hedera helix)

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching, irritation and sometimes painful rash

Common holly (Ilex aquifolium) belongs to the Aquifoliales order

Asterales order includes the daisy family (Asteraceae) with 25,000 species and the bellflower (Campanulaceae). Includes –

The most evident characteristic of Asteraceae is perhaps their inflorescence: a specialized capitulum, generally referred to as flower head. The capitulum is a contracted raceme composed of numerous individual sessile flowers, called the florets, all sharing the same receptacle. The capitulum of Asteraceae has evolved many characteristics that make it look superficially like a single flower

Daisy (Bellis perennis)

Michaelmas daisy (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)

Aster is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. The name Aster comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘star’, referring to the shape of the flower head

Purple or common salsify – also known as oyster plant and Jerusalem star

Meadow salsify – also known as Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon

Ragwort contains many different alkaloids, making it poisonous to certain animals

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) may have originated in Mexico. Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds

Cornflower or boutonniere flower – the flowers are most commonly an intense blue colour

Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. The common name dandelion is French for ‘lion’s tooth’. Dandelion was known as pissabed

The term ‘thistle’ is sometimes taken to mean exactly those plants in the tribe Cynareae

Musk thistle (Carduus)

Scots thistle (Onopordum)

Solidago, commonly called goldenrods, is a genus of flowering plants in the aster family

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant of the family Asteraceae

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called the sunroot or sunchoke or earth apple, is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States

Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food. The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom

Yarrow has a feathery leaf shap and texture. Also known as milfoil

Common chicory usually has bright blue flowers. Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, or for roots which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock

Endive is a leaf vegetable that can be cooked or used raw in salads

Tarragon is cultivated for use of the leaves as an aromatic culinary herb

Chrysanthemum – derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower)

Calendula is the genus of pot marigolds

Calendula officinalis – common marigold, garden marigold, English marigold

African, Mexican, French – members of Tagetes genus of marigolds

Zinnia – a genus of annual and perennial plants of family Asteraceae, originally from scrub and dry grassland in Mexico. The genus name honours German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn

Artemisia annua, also known as sweet wormwood, is the source of the antimalarial drug artemisinin

Dahlia – named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl. Introduced from Mexico

Gazania is a genus of flowering plants native to Southern Africa. They produce large, daisy-like composite flowers in brilliant shades of yellow and orange

Lobelia (also known as Indian Tobacco, Asthma Weed, Pukeweed, or Vomitwort) is a genus in the family Campanulaceae

Crystal Palace – cultivar of Lobelia erinus

Campanula is one of several genera in the family Campanulaceae with the common name bellflower; campanula is Latin for ‘little bell’

Echinacea is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family. Commonly called coneflowers. Some species are used in herbal medicines

Dipsacales order includes –

Honeysuckles (Lonicera) are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum (honeysuckle or woodbine) and Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)

Weigela is a genus of deciduous shrubs in the family Caprifoliaceae. All are natives of eastern Asia. The genus is named after the German scientist Christian Ehrenfried Weigel

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the 16th century. Valerian root has sedative effects

Elder or elderberry (Sambucus)

Teasel seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds

Celastrales order includes khat (Catha edulis). Khat contains the alkaloid cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which causes excitement and euphoria. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse

Guaiacum is a genus of of slow-growing shrubs and trees commonly known as lignum-vitae in the order Zygophyllalaes

Tree genera

Abies                              Fir

Acer                              Maple

Aesculus                       Horse Chestnut or Buckeye

Alnus                              Alder

Betula                            Birch

Carpinus                         Hornbeam

Carya                             Hickory

Cedrus                           Cedar

Cercis                            Redbud

Cornus                           Dogwood

Crataegus                      Hawthorn

Diospyros                       Persimmon

Fagus                             Beech

Fraxinus                         Ash

Halesia                           Silverbell

Hamamelis                      Witchhazel

Ilex                                 Holly

Larix                               Larch

Malus                             Crabapple

Phellodendron                Corktree

Picea                              Spruce

Pinus                              Pine

Platanus                         Plane

Populus                          Poplar

Prunus                           Cherry

Quercus                         Oak

Salix                               Willow

Sequoia                          Redwood

Sorbus                           Mountain Ash

Stewartia                        Camellia

Taxus                             Yew

Tilia                                Lime

Tsuga                             Hemlock

Ulmus                            Elm


Bryophyta – mosses, liverworts, and hornworts

Bryophyte life cycle – a haploid gametophyte, each of whose cells contains a fixed number of unpaired chromosomes, gives rise to a diploid sporophyte, each of whose cells contains twice the number of paired chromosomes. Gametophytes produce sperm and eggs which fuse and grow into sporophytes. Sporophytes produce spores which grow into gametophytes. Bryophytes are gametophyte dominant, meaning that the more prominent, longer-lived plant is the haploid gametophyte

Liverworts are also known as hepatics. The simplest of land plants, they do not have stomata and reproduce by scattering spores. Some are flat and ribbon-like; others are more like mosses

Common liverwort, has spore-forming structures that look like tiny parasols

Mosses are typically 1–10 cm tall. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leaves cover the thin wiry stems. At certain times mosses produce spore capsules which may appear as beak-like capsules borne aloft on thin stalks


Pteridophytes – a class of flowerless plants, embracing ferns, horsetails, club mosses

Lycopodium is a genus of club mosses

Ferns have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns reproduce via spores and have neither seeds nor flowers. Most ferns have fiddleheads, which expand into what are called fronds, which are each delicately divided

Bracken – genus Pteridium, commonest fern in UK

Equisetum, the horsetail, is a living fossil. In Paleozoic forests they were large trees reaching to 30m tall

Whisk fern – primitive relative of true ferns

Maidenhair – a genus of about 200 species of ferns

Cycads, ginkgos and gnetophytes

Cycads, ginkgos and gnetophytes are, along with conifers, classed as gymnosperms, which form their seeds on exposed surfaces

Cycads are subtropical plants. They have a rosette of pinnate leaves around a cylindrical trunk. The cycad fossil record dates to the early Permian

Ginkgo – Maidenhair tree, is a living fossil

Gnetophytes – three genera of woody plant


Conifers, division Pinophyta, evolved over 300 million years ago. They have two types of cone, which normally grow on the same tree. Male cones are small and produce pollen. The larger female cones contain one or more seeds

Firs (Abies) can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needle-like leaves, attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup; and by erect, cylindrical cones that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds

Caucasian fir – Europe's tallest conifer

Sitka Spruce – most common conifer in UK

Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) is a large coniferous evergreen tree. It is the largest species of spruce and the third-tallest conifer species in the world (after Coast Redwood and Coast Douglas-fir). It acquires its name from the community of Sitka, Alaska

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is the only pine native to northern Europe. World's most widespread conifer

General Sherman –giant sequoia (also known as giant redwood) tree in California

Giant sequoia – world's most massive tree

Redwood tree has aniseed scent

Stone pine – has edible seeds (pine nuts)

The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees (Family Pinaceae, genus Pinus) that can reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5000 years

Leyland Cypress – also known as Leylandii

Monkey puzzle (Araucaria araucana) is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. It is native to Chile and Argentina

Yew (genus Taxus) is the oldest native tree in Britain. Often found in churchyards. Associated with pagan rituals. Many-branched, small trees and shrubs

Larch (genus Larix) is a deciduous conifer

Junipers – coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Juniper berries are a spice used in a wide variety of culinary dishes and best known for the primary flavouring in gin



Basidiomycota is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya within the kingdom Fungi

Mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates

Mycology – study of fungi

Basidiomycota – phylum referred to as ‘higher fungi’. Basidiomycota are filamentous fungi composed of hyphae (except for yeasts), and reproducing sexually via the formation of specialized club-shaped end cells called basidia that normally bear external meiospores (usually four). These specialized spores are called basidiospores

The main body of a Basidimycote fungus is usually underground, formed of hyphae, which make up a mycelium (fungal body)

Corticioid fungi are a group of fungi in the Basidiomycota typically having effused, smooth basidiocarps (fruit bodies) that are formed on the undersides of dead tree trunks or branches. They are sometimes colloquially called crust fungi

Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, are among the many groups of fungi that comprise the phylum Basidiomycota. Characteristically, they produce shelf- or bracket-shaped fruiting bodies called conks that lie in a close planar grouping of separate or interconnected horizontal rows

Jelly fungi are so named because their foliose, irregularly branched fruiting body is, or appears to be, the consistency of jelly

Hydnoid fungi are a group of fungi in the Basidiomycota with basidiocarps (fruit bodies) producing spores on pendant, tooth-like or spine-like projections. They are colloquially called tooth fungi

Smuts are multicellular fungi. Cereal and crop pathogens that most notably affect members of the grass family, including cereal crops such as maize

Agaricales order comprises most of the familiar mushrooms and toadstools. Many have caps and stems with gills, some also have pores. Includes –

Field mushroom (Agaricus campestris)

Cultivated mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). Also known as button mushroom, champignon mushroom, and when mature as Portobello mushroom

Dapperling, parasol, fieldcap, pinkgill, fibrecap, waxcap – types of mushroom

The distinguishing feature of all puffballs is that they do not have an open cap with spore-bearing gills. Instead, spores are produced internally, in a spheroidal fruiting body called a gasterothecium. The fungi are called 'puffballs' because clouds of brown dust-like spores are emitted when the mature fruiting body bursts, or in response to impacts such as those of falling raindrops

Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap, is a poisonous basidiomycete fungus. It has been involved in the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisoning

The term ‘toadstool’ was often, but not exclusively, applied to poisonous mushrooms or to those that have the classic umbrella-like cap-and-stem form

An agaric is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus (cap) that is clearly differentiated from the stipe (stalk), with lamellae (gills) on the underside of the pileus

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus. The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually red mushroom, one of the most recognizable and widely encountered in popular culture

A common feature among all species in the genus Cortinarius is that young specimens have a cortina (veil) between the cap and the stem, hence the name, meaning curtained. The common names cortinar and webcap refer to members of the genus

Several of the species of the genus Marasmius are known to grow in the characteristic fairy ring pattern. Scotch bonnet (Marasmius oreades) is also known as the fairy ring mushroom

Omphalotus olearius, commonly known as the jack-o'-lantern mushroom, is a poisonous orange gilled mushroom that is notable for its bioluminescent properties

Coprinopsis atramentaria is commonly known as the common ink cap or inky cap

Coprinus comatus, the shaggy ink cap, lawyer's wig, or shaggy mane, has white caps that are covered with scales

Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica) is a type of bracket fungus that resembles a slab of raw meat

Honey fungus (Armillaria) is a genus of parasitic fungi that live on trees and woody shrubs. The largest single organism (of the species Armillaria solidipes) covers more than 3.4 square miles in Oregon and is thousands of years old

Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, is a common edible mushroom. The oyster mushroom is one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms. Its mycelia can kill and digest nematodes, which is believed to be a way in which the mushroom obtains nitrogen

Boletales order contains over 1300 species with a diverse array of fruiting body types. Includes –

Wet Rot Fungus (Coniophora puteana)

Cantharellales order look like agarics but lack true gills. Includes –

Cantharellus is a genus of popular edible mushrooms, commonly known as chanterelles. They are mycorrhizal fungi. Many species of chanterelles contain carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. They also contain significant amounts of vitamin D. The name comes from the Greek kantharos meaning ‘tankard’ or ‘cup’

Cantharellus cibarius, commonly known as the chanterelle, golden chanterelle or girolle, is probably the best known species of the genus Cantharellus. It is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped, and smells of apricots

Geastrales order contains the single family Geastraceae, commonly known as ‘earthstars’

Phallales order is named for the phallic shape of many of the species in this group, such as the stinkhorns. Also includes some false truffles. Includes –

Phallus impudicus is known colloquially as the common stinkhorn

Mutinus caninus is commonly known as the dog stinkhorn

Devil’s candlestick – stinkhorn fungus

Pucciniales order contains a number of rust fungi


Ascomycota – phylum whose members are commonly known as the sac fungi. They are the largest phylum of fungi, with over 64,000 species. The defining feature of this fungal group is the ‘ascus’, plural ‘asci’ (from Greek: meaning ‘skin bag’), a microscopic sexual structure in which nonmotile spores, called ascospores, are formed. Includes many cup- and saucer-shaped species

Hypocreales order. Species of Hypocreales are usually recognized by their brightly coloured ascomata, or spore-producing structures. These are often yellow, orange or red. Includes –

Ergot refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea (rye ergot fungus)

Helotiales order is distinguished by its disc or cup-shaped apothecia. Contains some of the worst plant pathogens. Includes –

Botrytis cinerea is a parasitic fungus that affects many plant species, notably wine grapes. The fungus gives rise to two different kinds of infections on grapes. The first, grey rot, is the result of consistently wet or humid conditions, and typically results in the loss of the affected bunches. The second, noble rot, occurs when drier conditions follow wetter, and can result in distinctive sweet dessert wines, such as Sauternes

Chlorociboria aeruginascens contains a quinone pigment called xylindein, which is responsible for the characteristic bluish-green stain of wood infected by this species (known as ‘green oak’)

Monilinia fructicola is the causal agent of brown rot, of stone fruits

Diplocarpon rosae is the causal agent of black spot, of roses

Pezizales order contains a number of species of economic importance, such as morels, the black and white truffles, and the desert truffles. The Pezizales are saprobic, mycorrhizal, or parasitic on plants. Includes –

Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi

Black truffle or Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is a species of truffle native to Southern Europe. It is one of the most expensive edible mushrooms in the world. Grows underground around oaks. Found using dogs or pigs

White truffle (Tuber magnatum) comes from the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti. Growing symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech and fruiting in autumn, they can reach 12 cm in diameter

Summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) or burgundy truffle (Tuber uncinatum) is a species of truffle, found in almost all European countries

Terfeziaceae, or desert truffles, is a family of truffles endemic to arid and semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean Region, North Africa, and the Middle East

Eurotiales order of sac fungi are also known as the green and blue molds. Includes –

Members of the genus Penicillium produce penicillin. Penicillium molds are found in Blue cheese

Aspergillus is a genus consisting of several hundred mold species. Aspergillosis is the group of diseases caused by Aspergillus. The most common subtype among paranasal sinus infections associated with aspergillosis is A. fumigatus

Aspergillus niger causes a disease called black mold on certain fruits and vegetables. Various strains of A. niger are used in the industrial preparation of citric acid

Ophiostoma ulmi is a species of fungus in the order Ophiostomatales. It is one of the causative agents of Dutch elm disease

Pilobolus crystallinus, commonly known as the ‘Dung Cannon’ or ‘Hat Thrower’, is a species of fungus belonging to the Mucorales order in the phylum Zygomycota. It is unique in that it adheres its spores to vegetation, so as to be eaten by grazing animals. They can shoot their sporangium, containing their spores, up to two metres away


Lichen – a composite organism consisting of a symbiotic relationship between a fungus (the mycobiont) and a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont or phycobiont), usually either a green alga or cyanobacterium. The algal partner provides nutrients through photosynthesis, while the fungal partner aids the alga by retaining water and capturing mineral nutrients. Lichens broadly fall into three types: foliose lichens, which have leaves; crustose lichens, which form a crust; and fruticose lichens, which have branches

When growing on mineral surfaces, some lichens slowly decompose their substrate by chemically degrading and physically disrupting the minerals, contributing to the process of weathering by which rocks are gradually turned into soil

Many lichens reproduce asexually, either by vegetative reproduction or through the dispersal of diaspores containing algal and fungal cells

Lichenometry – a geomorphic method of geochronologic dating that uses lichen growth to determine the age of exposed rock, based on a presumed specific rate of increase in radial size over time. The map lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum) is the lichen most used in lichenometry

Lichens are named based on the fungal component, which plays the primary role in determining the lichen's form. The fungus typically comprises the majority of a lichen’s bulk. The lichen fungus is typically a member of the Ascomycota – rarely a member of the Basidiomycota, and then termed basidiolichens to differentiate them from the more common ascolichens. Formerly, some lichen taxonomists placed lichens in their own division, the Mycophycophyta. Includes –

Cladonia rangiferina, also known as reindeer moss, is a light-coluored, fruticose lichen

Xanthoria parietina is a foliose lichen. It has many common names such as common orange lichen, yellow scale, maritime sunburst lichen and shore lichen. It can be found near the shore on rocks or walls

Yeasts do not form a single taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping. The term ‘yeast’ is often taken as a synonym for Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but the phylogenetic diversity of yeasts is shown by their placement in two separate phyla: the Ascomycota and the Basidiomycota. The budding yeasts (‘true yeasts’) are classified in the order Saccharomycetales in the Ascomycota phylum

Mildew is defined as a thin, superficial, usually whitish growth consisting of minute fungal hyphae (filaments,) produced especially on living plants or organic matter. In horticulture, mildew is fungus in the order Erysiphales

A mold or mould is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds are considered to be microbes and do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping

Oomycete – lineage of fungus-like eukaryotic microorganisms, known as water moulds. Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete that causes the serious potato disease known as late blight or potato blight


Protists are a diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms. Historically, protists were treated as the kingdom Protista, which includes mostly unicellular organisms that do not fit into the other kingdoms, but this group is contested in modern taxonomy. The use of Protoctista is also preferred by various organisations and institutions. The term protista was first used by Ernst Haeckel in 1866

A protist is any eukaryote that is not an animal, (land) plant, or (true) fungus

Protist clades –

Amoebas and relatives – move using pseudopods. Includes slime moulds

Flagellates – swimming microbes that move by the whip-lie action of one or more flagella. Includes the genus Euglena, and the organisms responsible for sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis

Rhizarians – many produce shells or skeletons, which may be quite complex in structure, and these make up the vast majority of protozoan fossils. Nearly all have mitochondria. Some have pseudopods. There are three main groups of Rhizaria: Radiolaria, Foraminifera, and Cercozoa

Alveolates – have a fringe of tiny sacs around the cell called alveoli. Made up of three groups: dinoflagellates, which have two whip-like flagella and cause red tides; ciliates, which have countless tiny hairs called cilia; apicomplexians, incluing the maleria-causing Plasmodium species

Heterokonts – defined as having two different types of flagella on the sperm. Include diatoms, brown algae (includes many seaweeds, such as kelps), and water moulds

Diatom – a group of unicellular algae. A unique feature of diatom cells is that they are enclosed within a cell wall made of silica called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, but are usually almost bilaterally symmetrical. Diatoms are traditionally divided into two orders – centric and pinnate

Red and green algae – red algae (Rhodophyta) are multicellular, macroscopic, marine, and do not produce flagellated sperm; green algae are generally found in freshwater, and share the same chlorophyll pigments that occur in land plants. Includes the desmids

Red tide – a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) when it is caused by a few species of dinoflagellates and the bloom takes on a red or brown colour

A seaweed may belong to one of several groups of multicellular algae: the red algae, green algae, and brown algae. Seaweed is a source of iodine

Volvox – a genus of chlorophytes, a type of green algae. It forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells

Protozoa – a diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Historically, protozoa were defined as unicellular protists with animal-like behaviour. Today, protozoan are usually single-celled and heterotrophic eukaryotes containing non filamentous structures that belong to any of the major lineages of protists


Bacteria constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms

Most bacterial species are either spherical, called cocci, or rod-shaped, called bacilli. Some rod-shaped bacteria, called vibrio, are slightly curved or comma-shaped; others, can be spiral-shaped, called spirilla, or tightly coiled, called spirochaetes

Many bacterial species exist simply as single cells, others associate in characteristic patterns: Neisseria form diploids (pairs), Streptococcus form chains, and Staphylococcus group together in ‘bunch of grapes’ clusters

Bacterial conjugation is the transfer of genetic material between bacterial cells by direct cell-to-cell contact

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, is a phylum of bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis. Stromatolites of fossilized oxygen-producing cyanobacteria have been found from 2.8 billion years ago. Cyanobacteria have been genetically modified to produce ethanol from carbon dioxide

Pilus – (Plural – pili) a hairlike appendage found on the surface of many bacteria. Conjugative pili allow the transfer of DNA between bacteria, in the process of bacterial conjugation

Plankton – drifting animals, protists, archaea, algae, or bacteria that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water; that is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than taxonomic classification

Phytoplankton – small, usually microscopic plants (such as algae), found in lakes, reservoirs, and other bodies of water. Produce 50% of world’s oxygen

Plankton – any organisms that live in the water column and are incapable of swimming against a current

Zooplankton – heterotrophic (sometimes detritivorous) plankton