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If you find a dicot shrub or small tree with visibly three-parted capsules or berries, then it is likely a member of the Buckthorn family. The foamy, white, greenish or even blue spray of flowers of the Ceanothus is also hard to miss, when in season. These shrubs have simple, and usually serrated, alternate or opposite leaves and sometimes thorns. The flowers are mostly regular and usually, but not always, bisexual. There are 4 to 5 sepals, 4 to 5 (sometimes 0) petals, and 4 to 5 stamens. The stamens are alternate with the sepals and opposite the petals. The parts are positioned perigynous (in the middle of the ovary). The ovary consists of 3 (sometimes 2 or 4) united carpels (syncarpous) with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule or berry with 1 (rarely 2) seeds per cell. The sections of the ovary are often readily visible on the surface. Worldwide, there are 58 genera and 900 species. Ten genera are found in North America, including Berchemia, Colubrina, Condalia, Gouania, Krugiodendron, Reynosia, Sageretia and Ziziphus, plus the genera below.
Key Words: Shrubs or small trees with visibly three-parted capsules or berries.
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