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Caryophyllaceae, commonly called the pink family or carnation family,
is a family of flowering plants. It is included in the dicotyledon
Caryophyllales in the APG III system, alongside 33 other
families, including Amaranthaceae, Cactaceae, and Polygonaceae. It
is a large family, with 81 genera and about 2,625 known species.
This cosmopolitan family of mostly herbaceous plants is best
represented in temperate climates, with a few species growing on
tropical mountains. Some of the more commonly known members include
pinks and carnations (Dianthus), and firepink and campions (Lychnis
and Silene). Many species are grown as ornamental plants, and some
species are widespread weeds. Most species grow in the Mediterranean
and bordering regions of
Europe and Asia. The number of genera and
species in the
Southern Hemisphere is rather small, although the
family does contain
Antarctic pearlwort (
Colobanthus quitensis), the
world's southernmost dicot, which is one of only two flowering plants
found in Antarctica.
The name comes from Caryophyllus, an obsolete synonym of Dianthus.
4 External links
Despite its size and the somewhat doubtful mutual relationships, this
family is rather uniform and easily recognizable.
Most are herbaceous annuals or perennials, dying off above ground each
year. A few species are shrubs or small trees, such as some
Acanthophyllum species. Most plants are non-succulent; i.e. having
no fleshy stems or leaves. The nodes on the stem are swollen. The
leaves are almost always opposite, rarely whorled. The blades are
entire, petiolate, and often stipulate. These stipules are not
The hermaphroditic flowers are terminal, blooming singly or branched
or forked in cymes. The inflorescence is usually dichasial at least in
the lower parts, which means that in the axil of each peduncle
(primary flower stalk) of the terminal flower in the cyme, two new
single-flower branches sprout up on each side of and below the first
flower. If the terminal flowers are absent, then this can lead to
monochasia, i.e. a monoparous cyme with a single flower on each axis
of the inflorescence. In the extreme, this leads to a single flower,
such as in Githago or Arenaria. The flowers are regular and mostly
with five petals and five sepals, but sometimes with four petals.
The sepals may be free from one another or united. The petals may be
entire, fringed or deeply cleft. The calyx may be cylindrically
inflated, as in Silene. The stamens number five or 10 (or more rarely
four or eight), and are mostly isomerous with the perianth. The
superior gynoecium has two to five carpels (members of a compound
pistil) and is syncarpous; i.e. with these carpels united in a
compound ovary. This ovary has one chamber inside the ovary. The fruit
may be a utricle with a single seed or a capsule containing several
The "maiden pink",
Dianthus deltoides, belongs to the core group of
Minuartia gerardii belongs to a clade traditionally included in the
Paronychia argentea from the primitive Paronychioideae assemblage
Stellaria ruscifolia is traditionally placed in the Alsinoideae, but
may not be a close relative of Minuartia.
Caryophyllaceae are sister groups and
considered closely related.
Caryophyllaceae were considered the sister family to all of
the remaining members of the suborder
Caryophyllineae because they
have anthocyanins, and not betalain pigments. However, cladistic
Caryophyllaceae evolved from ancestors that
contained betalain, reinforcing betalain as an accurate synapomorphy
of the suborder.
This family is traditionally divided in three subfamilies:
Alsinoideae: no stipules, petals not united
Silenoideae: no stipules, petals united
Paronychioideae: fleshy stipules, petals separate or united
The last, however, are a basal grade of rather primitive members of
this family, not closely related, but simply retaining many
plesiomorphic traits. Instead of a subfamily, most ought to be treated
as genera incertae sedis, but Corrigiola and Telephium might warrant
recognition as Corrigioleae. The Alsinoideae, on the other hand, seem
to form two distinct clades, perhaps less some misplaced genera.
Finally, the Silenoideae appear monophyletic at least for the most
part, if some of the taxa misplaced in Alsinoideae are moved there; it
may be that the name Caryophylloideae would apply for the revised
However, hybridization between many members of this family is
rampant—particularly in the Silenoideae/Caryophylloideae—and some
of the lineages of descent have been found to be highly complicated
and do not readily yield to cladistic analysis.
Achyronychia – onyxflower, frost-mat
Agrostemma – corncockles
Arenaria – sandworts
Cerastium – mouse-ear chickweeds
Colobanthus – pearlworts
Corrigiola – strapworts
Dianthus – carnations and pinks
Gypsophila – gypsophilas, baby's-breath
Herniaria – ruptureworts
Holosteum – jagged chickweeds
Lychnis – campions, catchflies
Minuartia – sandworts, stitchworts
Moehringia – sandworts
Moenchia – upright chickweeds
Paronychia – chickweeds
Petrorhagia (previously known as Tunica)
Sagina – pearlworts
Saponaria – soapworts
Scleranthus – knawels
Silene – campions, catchflies
Spergula – spurreys
Spergularia – sea-spurreys
Stellaria – chickweeds, stitchworts
^ a b
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm
Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of
flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.
161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
^ Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of
known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa.
Magnolia Press. 261 (3): 201–217.
^ E. D. Rudolph (1965). "Antarctic lichens and vascular plants: their
significance". BioScience. 15 (4): 285–287. doi:10.2307/1293425.
^ Caryophyllus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network.
^ a b c A. V. S. S. Sambamurty (2005). "
family)". Taxonomy of Angiosperms. I. K. International.
pp. 270–279. ISBN 978-81-88237-16-6.
^ a b c d Robert H. Mohlenbrock (2001). "
Caryophyllaceae – pink
family". Flowering Plants: Pokeweeds, Four-o'clocks, Carpetweeds,
Cacti, Purslanes, Goosefoots, Pigweeds, and Pinks. The illustrated
flora of Illinois. SIU Press. pp. 146–255.
^ Walter S. Judd; Christopher S. Campbell; Elizabeth A. Kellogg; Peter
F. Stevens; Michael J. Donoghue (2008).
Plant Systematics: a
Phylogenetic Approach (3rd ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.
^ P. F. Stevens (9 June 2008). "Caryophyllaceae". Angiosperm Phylogeny
Website. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
^ Per Erixon; Bengt Oxelman (2008). "Reticulate or tree-like
chloroplast DNA evolution in Sileneae (Caryophyllaceae)?". Molecular
Phylogenetics and Evolution. 48 (1): 313–325.
doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.015. PMID 18490181.
Media related to
Caryophyllaceae at Wikimedia Commons
Data related to
Caryophyllaceae at Wikispecies
Caryophyllaceae - Pink
Plant Life Forms
Watson & Dallwitz: cary