BRASSICACEAE (Cruciferae) - Mustard Family

Herbs with odorous, water juice, annuals, biennials, and perennials

The chemicals produced by this family are mustard-oil glycosides (glucosinolates) which defend the plants against microrganisms and animals. They can poison livestock if eaten in sufficient quantities.

Leaves alternate, simple, often dissected, stipules absent

Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic, usually in racemes

Androecium of 6 stamens, 4 long and 2 short

Corolla of 4 petals arranged in a cross, hence Cruciferae

Fruit a silique (long) or a silicle (short) - modified capsule dehiscing by 2 lateral valves having a central septum (replum)

350 genera, 3000 species

Brassicaceae is a sharply defined and readibly recognized family, however, genera are ill-defined

Economic importance

Brassica - brussel sprouts, broccoli, mustard, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, kohlrabi, kale

Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi all originated from the same species, Brassica oleracea, by mutations that affected "normal" development. If these cultivated plants are grown for long periods of time or in warm conditions, they will resume normal growth. So while these cultivated plants look very different, they are very closely related.

Brussel sprouts - elongation of axillary buds inhibited.

Broccoli - flower and inflorescence development inhibited.

Cabbages - internode elongation inhibited.

Cauliflower - flowers sterile and inflorescence development inhibited.

Kohlrabi - Apical meristem inhibited and lateral meristem enhanced.

Raphanus -radish

some ornamentals and weeds (escaped Brassica)

Medicinal uses - contains factors that may prevent cancers, leaves used for rheumatism, toothaches, seeds for headache and tonic. Mustard oils can cause skin irritation and ulcers from both external application and consumption.

Diagnostic characteristics: herbs, infl. a raceme, stamens 4+2, fruit a silicle or silique.

FLOWERING PLANT GATEWAY (Brassicaceae) (Cruciferae)