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Plants of the Staff Tree Family

      If you like hiking in the mountains, then you may have encountered at least one member of the Staff Tree family (also known as the Staff Vine or Bittersweet family) in your travels. Oregon boxwood or mountain lover (Paxistima myrsinites) is a short evergreen shrub growing in or around western forests, especially in the Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges. Its less-common cousin, Canby's mountain lover (P. canbyi) can be found in the Appalachians. Upon first inspection, the shrubs could be mistaken for plants of the Heath Family, except that they have opposite leaves. In central and eastern North America, one is also likely to encounter the poisonous American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), a sturdy vine with orange-red, three-celled fruits.

      Botanically, members of the Staff Tree family include shrubs, trees, and vines, some with evergreen leaves. The flowers are usually small, bisexual, and regular with 4 or 5 (rarely 2) separate or basally united sepals, 4 or 5 (rarely 2) separate petals, and typically a similar number of stamens. The ovary consists of 2 to 5 united carpels with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers, as indicated by a similar number of stigmas. In most species, the ovary matures as a capsule, usually with 1 or 2 seeds per chamber (sometimes numerous), but some species form a berry, drupe (a fleshy fruit with a stony pit), or a samara (winged seed). Worldwide, there are about 85 genera and 850 species.

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 Paxistima myrsinites. Oregon Boxwood or Mountain Lover.

Paxistima myrsinites. Oregon Boxwood or Mountain Lover.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West

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Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
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Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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