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North American members of this family have small flowers in clusters. The flowers can be bisexual or unisexual, regular or slightly irregular. The sepals are inconspicuous. There are 5 united petals, often with a spur at the base of the flower. There are 1 to 4 stamens. The ovary is positioned inferior and consists of 3 united carpels (tricarpellate) but aborts two, forming just 1 chamber. It produces an achene (a dry seed). Worldwide, there are 13 genera and 400 species. Three genera are found in North America. Red valerian (Centranthus) is cultivated.
Key Words: Plants with basal and opposite leaves.
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