FLOWER KEY – inflorescences

Some species of flowering plants have solitary flowers but the majority have flowers that are clustered in inflorescences. The type of inflorescence can be used to identify the species.  26% are racemes, 7% are panicles and19% cymes which are difficult to use as identifiers. The remaining species have easily recognised inflorescences such as cyathium, capitulum, head, umbel, verticallaster, verticillate, spike and scorpioid cyme. For more information on Inflorescences click HERE

Cyathium – an inflorescence unique to the Euphorbias of the Spurge family. It consists of a female flower in the centre surrounded by multiple male flowers. This photo shows 3 cyathia enclosed by a large bract.

Capitulum – an inflorescence consisting of a head of closely-packed florets in the Daisy family. The flower shown is a collection of many disc florets and 14 yellow ray florets. Click HERE for more information on the capitulum.

Head   –  a similar arrangement to a capitulm but consists of individual flowers compressed into a flat or spherical shape.

Pea, Sea Lavender, Umbellifer and Honeysuckle families

Umbel – All flowers from the same point

Daffodil (alliums), Rose (Cherries), Geranium (Pelargoniums), Primrose (Cowslip), Umbellifer families

Verticillaster – false whorl of 2 flowers

Mint (Dead-nettle)

Verticillate – whorl of more than 2 flowers

Lily (fritillary) Loosestrife families

Spike – A vertical raceme with sessile flowers

Orchid, Asphodel (Red-hot Poker), Mint (Lavender), Acanthus families

Scorpioid cyme – coiled like a scorpion’s tail

Borage family