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If you live in the South, then you may have met at least one member of the Caltrop family, the puncture vine, from the thorns pulled from your bicycle tires and shoes. Members of the Caltrop family have opposite, usually pinnately divided leaves. They are usually herbs or shrubs, but some are trees. The Caltrops are largely adapted to desert conditions; they are rare in the northern latitudes. A typical flower from this family is regular and bisexual, with 5 separate sepals and 5 separate petals (rarely 4 of each), and either 5, 10 or 15 stamens. The ovary is positioned superior. It consists of 5 united carpels (syncarpous) with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule with 2 or more seeds per cell, or rarely as a drupe (a fleshy fruit with a stoney pit). Worldwide there are about 30 genera and 250 species.
Key Words: Desert plants with parts in fives, and opposite, usually pinnately divided leaves.
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