Diversity: Temperate taxa are herbaceous - often perennial - with some woody taxa in the tropics. A 'showy' family adapted to animal pollination (mostly insects and hummingbirds) that includes many common Texas wildflowers ('buttercup' - Oenothera speciosa) - and a suite of ornamentals, including Fuchsia.
Distribution: Worldwide, but mostly temperate and subtropical with considerable diversity in western North America; global diversity of ca. 640 species in ca. 20 genera. We have 7 genera with 72 species in Texas, including many common, conspicuous, elements of the local Spring flora.
No 'handle' for this family with regard to vegetative structure, but
flower is quite distinctive in that 1) all floral whorls are
on a 4-merous structural pattern,
the flowers are epigynous and, 3)
in many genera extends well beyond the ovary .
|Oenothera speciosa- a population or - more likely - a single plant since this is a rhizomatous perennial species, and a single flower (right) with yellow hypanthium throat and four stigma lobes reflecting 4-carpels (syncarpous)|
|Oenothera speciosa- side view of flower with hypanthium intact (left) and opened (right). 'Strings' of pollen (right) result from physical linkage of pollen grains in Oenothera via hook-like structures on the pollen grain wall.|
Epilobium angustifolium - 'fireweed'
the western U.S. is wind-dispersed via comose
seeds (frequent in the family) and therefore poised and
to take advantage of sunlight provided by forest fires:
Fuchsia species show reflexed sepals and
More information on the Onagraceae