Quiz #90: Plant

Talking about plants with the precision of a botanist requires learning some vocabulary. For example, take the various terms used to describe an inflorescence (flower cluster). There are catkins, spikes, racemes, and umbels, to name but a few. Which term best describes the form of the plant skeleton pictured below? Bonus: To which family does this plant belong?

Photo of Quiz #90: Plant

A. Raceme

B. Spike

C. Panicle

D. Compound Umbel

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The answer is... D: Compound Umbel. An umbel consists of flower stalks that arise from nearly the same point, like the spokes of an umbrella.  A compound umbel has an umbel of stalks that are further divided into smaller umbels.  The Northern Ontario Plant Database shows graphic examples of these and other types of inflorescences.

Plants with flowers arranged in double umbels are nearly always members of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family.  This family contains many fine edible/medicinal plants as well as some seriously toxic species.  See Thomas Elpel's Apiaceae page to learn more.

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