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It would be hard to miss the Willow family. You can usually find either willows, aspens, cottonwoods or poplars along any stream, lake or mountain meadow. Botanically, the Willow family consists of bushes and trees with simple, alternate leaves. The flowers are unisexual with male and female flowers appearing in catkins on separate plants (dioecious). The sepals are greatly reduced or absent, and there are no petals. Male flowers have 2 or more stamens. In the pistillate (female) flower, the ovary is positioned superior and consists of 2 to 4 united carpels (syncarpous) forming a single chamber. It matures as a capsule, usually with silky "cotton" to help transport the seeds by air. Worldwide, there are 2 to 3 genera and 350 to 500 species.
Key Words: Trees/bushes with alternate leaves in moist soil. Catkins form many small capsules.
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