The Daisy Family

Aster amellus

Asteraceae: The Daisy Family

Kingdom PhylumWe Are Family: Trying to classify life, here within the vast kingdom of plants, into distinct categories has been going on for centuries. Constant adjustment of one plant or another moving between categories has been going on since the beginning of taxonomy, and indeed right to this day because there are simply no hard rules for what belongs in a plant family. Often rankings are made because certain plants can hybridize with others or because have similar physical systems (they reproduce the same way for example), but again there are no overarching rules. Often the names of families come from a prominent genus in the family, but Asteraceae does not refer to daisies, rather to Asters, even though the family is commonly called the daisy family.

Meet the AsteraceaeeAsteraceae actually refers to Asters, and not to daisies.  Generally though, we are here speaking of flowering plants whose flowers are actually smaller clusters of flowers called florets, and the sepals of the flowers have been reduced over time to hairs or bristles. Asteraceae is one of the largest families of plants with over 1,600 genera and over 23,000 species in it.  Many of the plants in the family are garden ornamentals, though there are a few medicinal standouts.

The Asteraceae family contains well-known culinary and medicinal herbs, including:

ChamomileAsteraceae Matricaria
ChicoryAsteraceae Cichorium
FeverfewAsteraceae Tanacetum
WormwoodAsteraceae Artemisia

For more see the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Asteraceae.

Aster amellusFeatured Picture: Aster amellus, by Hectonichus, own work, file licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Featured here because historically Aster is the plant the Asteraceae family is actually named after, though it is commonly referred to as the daisy family.