An A-Z of Vegetable Families

Equip yourself with the knowledge of how to recognize different plant varieties so they may receive the appropriate care required to thrive.

| May 2019


Learning to recognize which plants are related makes it easier to recognize their seedlings and meet their needs. Individual species of plants belong to a genus, a group of plants having characteristics in common. A genus, in turn, belongs to a larger family of genera, but, in practice, the word family is used for genus, like the peas and beans family.

This quick read gives you much information in a nutshell to acquaint you with the nature of veg­etable plants, so you can choose accord­ingly. They are grouped under their family, sharing specific growth habits.

Aizoaceae/ice plant family: New Zea­land spinach (Warrigal greens).

Alliaceae/Allium/lily family: Around 500 species of chives, leeks, onions, and all sorts of shallots—grow from seed. Grow garlic and bunching onions from division of bulbs. Grow day lilies (Hem­erocallis) for lily buds. All produce one seed ball per stem.

Apiaceae/Umbelliferae/carrot family: Grow from seed. Flowers range from white and pinkish to yellow. These plants hold their seeds in “umbels” like flat umbrellas, helipads for beneficial fly­ing insects. Let them set seed through­out the vegetable garden in spring, and predators will come in enough numbers to keep pests in check. Caraway, carrots, celery, chervil, cilantro, cumin, dill, fen­nel, parsley, and parsnips are friends to food plants under attack.

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