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Scrophulariaceae: Figwort or Snapdragon Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Scrophulariaceae
Plants of the Figwort Family

      The Figwort family got gutted in the taxononic name game. This was a magnificent family with fairly intuitive patterns for identification, but most Figwort genera have been reclassified according to genetic evidence into the closely related Plantain, Lopseed, and Broomrape families. The Acanthus and Bladderwort families also have figwort-like flowers. Unfortunately, all of these families are now more complicated to identify, and the remaining genera in the Figwort family lack strong patterns between them. Nevertheless, being able to recognize a typical figwort-like flower remains an essential step for identifying any of these six closely related families.

      The Figworts and their allies typically have irregular, bisexual flowers with 5 united sepals and 5 united petals (sometimes 4 of each), usually 2-lipped with 2 lobes up and 3 lobes down. There are 4 or 5 stamens, often in two pairs, plus a shortened fifth stamen. The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 2 united carpels with the partition walls present, forming 2 chambers. It typically matures as a capsule containing many seeds. The dried up style of the pistil can often be seen at the tip of the capsule. Be sure to cross-check your specimen with each of the figwort-like families listed above.

Key Words: Irregular flowers with 2 petal lobes up and 3 down. Capsules with numerous seeds.

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Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.

Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.

Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.

Scrophularia californica. California Figwort.

Verbascum thapsus. Mullein.

Verbascum thapsus. Mullein. The dried flower stalk makes a great drill for handdrill fire-starting. Learn how in Participating in Nature.

Verbascum thapsus. Mullein. Hungry Horse Reservoir. Montana. Mullein is an introduced, sometimes invasive weed from Eurasia.

 Verbascum virgatum. Wand Mullein.

Verbascum virgatum. Wand Mullein.

Verbascum virgatum. Wand Mullein.

Verbascum virgatum. Wand Mullein. Photographed in California.

Butterfly Bush: Buddleia sp.

Butterfly Bush: Buddleia sp. Flower parts in 4s or 5s. Introduced for cultivation. The wavy petal edges resemble the Verbena family, but it has been historically classified in the Logania family (Loganiaceae) or its own family (Buddlejaceae), and now in the Figwort family.

Butterfly Bush: Buddleia sp.

Butterfly Bush: Buddleia sp. There are many different species of butterfly bush, native to Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

There are more
Figwort Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Check out Botany in a Day

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Books
authored by
Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
Homes
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
Quest

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