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Key to Polygonaceae

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1 Woody vine, climbing by tendrils; [subfamily Polygonoideae, tribe Coccolobeae].
1 Herb (sometimes very robust and rather woody), herbaceous vine, tree or shrub (Coccoloba), or woody (Muehlenbeckia) or somewhat woody (Fallopia baldschuanica) vine lacking tendrils.
    3 Tree or large shrubs (> 2 m tall when mature); bark of medium to mature trees peeling.
      4 Leaves ovate to orbicular or sometimes lanceolate-elliptic (as in C. diversifolia); floral tube becoming fleshy, fruit not winged; [common in sandy coastal habitats, c. and s. FL]
      4 Leaves long elliptic to widely lanceolate; floral tube not becoming fleshy; fruit 3-winged [rare escape, disturbed areas in s. FL]
    3 Herbs, herbaceous vines, woody vines, or small shrubs (< 2 m tall); stem not exfoliating.
        5 Stem leaves (in our species) whorled; flowers in involucrate heads; ocreae absent; stamens 9; leaves densely white-tomentose on the lower surface; [of xeric situations of shale barrens and sandhills]; [subfamily Eriogonoideae, tribe Eriogoneae]
        5 Stem leaves alternate; flowers in various inflorescences (not involucrate); ocreae present; stamens (3-) 5-8 (-9); leaves glabrous or variously pubescent, but not densely white-tomentose; [of various habitats, including xeric ones]; [subfamily Polygonoideae].
          6 Tepals 6, in 2 series of 3 each; plants with leaves basally disposed, the largest basal (these withering in some species later in the season); [tribe Rumiceae].
             7 Tepals (the outer series) spinose
               8 Fruit 3-winged; basal leaves very large, 20-40 cm wide; inner and outer tepals similar; [plant cultivated, rarely persistent or escaped]
               8 Fruit 3-angled; basal leaves small to medium in size, 0.5-15 cm wide; inner tepals wider than the outer tepals; [plants common, mostly weedy]
                 9 Leaf blades of well-developed leaves (at least) hastate or sagittate; plants dioecious (rarely polygamo-monoecious), the flowers mostly unisexual; fresh foliage pleasantly acid to taste
                 9 Leaf blades not hastate or sagittate; plants synoecious (rarely with some dioecious or polygamo-monoecious individuals), the flowers normally bisexual (sometimes bisexual and unisexual flowers in the same inflorescence); fresh foliage “green” or bitter to taste
          6 Tepals mostly 5 in a single whorl; plants with leaves along the stem, lacking well-developed basal leaves.
                   10 Flowers in small clusters or very reduced racemes of 1-5 flowers, borne in the axils of normally sized or reduced leaves; plants erect or sprawling herbs with stems < 1 m long, from taproots; leaves jointed at base; [tribe Polygoneae].
                     11 Stems with 4 obscure ribs or angles (or lacking apparent ribs); leaf venation parallel, with inconspicuous secondary veins, longitudinally plicate; anthers pink-purple
                     11 Stems with 8-16 distinct ribs; leaf venation pinnate, the secondary veins apparent; anthers whitish yellow
                   10 Flowers in diffuse axillary panicles, or in terminal or long-peduncled axillary racemes, corymbs, or heads; plants various, either erect or sprawling herbs, or erect, robust, and suffrutescent herbs, or climbing herbaceous, suffrutescent, or woody vines, or suffrutescent bushy herbs; leaves not jointed at base (except Polygonella).
                       12 Leaves cuneate at the base, either linear, spatulate, or oblanceolate, mostly < 4 cm long and < 5 mm wide; leaves jointed at the base; pedicels jointed at the base; [tribe Polygoneae]
                       12 Leaves cuneate, cordate, or hastate at the base, either lanceolate or ovate, mostly > 5 cm long and > 8 mm wide; leaves not jointed at the base; pedicels not jointed at the base.
                          13 Inflorescence corymbiform, terminal; achenes strongly exserted at maturity; tepals almost free, horizontally spreading, white, 3-4 mm long; [erect annual, uncommonly cultivated and rarely persistent or escaped]; [tribe Persicarieae]
                          13 Inflorescence paniculate, racemiform, or headlike, terminal and axillary; achenes enclosed in the perianth at maturity; tepals fused for much of their length, ascending, pink, green, or white.
                            14 Plants wiry-stemmed, woody vines with small leaves (< 2 cm long); flowers unisexual, the tubes of the pistillate flowers becoming fleshy in fruit
                            14 Plants herbs or with thick, suffrutescent to woody, stems with larger leaves; flowers bisexual or unisexual (if unisexual, then the tubes of the pitillate flowers not becoming fleshy).
                              15 Outer tepals neither keeled nor winged at maturity; inflorescence of spikelike racemes, heads, or sparse, interrupted racemes; [tribe Persicarieae]
                              15 Outer tepals keeled or winged at maturity; inflorescence a compound panicle of racemes; [tribe Polygoneae].
                                16 Plants erect, robust (1-4 m tall), woody, the stems generally over 1 cm in diameter, hollow; perianth enlarging in fruit; stigma fimbriate
                                16 Plants climbing or sprawling, herbaceous to somewhat woody, the stems slender; perianth usually not enlarging in fruit; stigma capitate or peltate
                                  17 Ocreae smooth; perianth greenish to yellowish or pinkish; achene glossy or dull black; [mostly of lower elevations].

Key P1: herbaceous dicots with alternate, simple, and unlobed leaves on the stem

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1 Inflorescence an involucrate head subtended by phyllaries, the heads solitary or many and variously arrayed in secondary inflorescences, the ovary inferior, the corolla connate and tubular at least basally, the calyx absent, the stamens 5, the fruit a cypsela
1 Inflorescence, flower, and fruit structure various, but not with the combination of features as above (sometimes the flowers in a head, e.g. Eryngium in APIACEAE, but then with other features differing, such as stamens 4, or green calyx present, or fruit a schizocarp of mericarps, etc.).
  2 Perianth uniseriate (represented only by undifferentiated tepals or sepals) or completely absent; flowers usually unisexual, less commonly bisexual).
    3 Inflorescence a cyathium, consisting of a single pistillate flower (reduced to a single 3-carpellate pistil) and 2 or more staminate flowers (each reduced to 1 stamen), borne in a cup-like involucre, the involucre bearing pointed or rounded glands, these sometimes brightly colored and petaloid, mimicking an individual flower (the cyathia then secondarily arranged in terminal cymes, or solitary and axillary, etc.); fresh plants with milky juice; fruit a 3-lobed, 3-locular capsule
    3 Inflorescence not a cyathium (and staminate or bisexual flowers with > 1 stamen; fresh plants lacking milky juice (except Stillingia in EUPHORBIACEAE); fruit various, not as above.
      4 Leaf margins toothed in some manner (serrate, dentate, crenate, etc.)
        5 Leaf teeth rounded to subacute, resembling shallow lobes, irregular, few (mostly < 6 per leaf side).
          6 Fruit a single-seeded achene or utricle; [plants of various disturbed or saline, usually sunny habitats]
          6 Fruit a 3-lobed, circumscissilely dehiscent capsule; [plants native of rich moist shaded forests or exotics in suburban woodlands]
        5 Leaf teeth sharp to crenate, not lobe-like, regular, many (mostly > 10 per leaf side).
             7 Leaf bases cordate to rounded.
               8 Styles 3; fruit a 3-lobed, 3-carpellate capsule (1 carpel sometimes aborting); inflorescence either a terminal or leaf opposed raceme, or a dense axillary condensed cyme with conspicuous toothed bracts subtending the flowers
               8 Styles 1 or 2; fruit either an achene or a multiple of achenes; inflorescence either an axillary dense cyme (almost a head), or an axillary spike with glomerules, or a terminal or axillary panicle.
                 9 Styles 2; inflorescence a dense axillary cyme (almost a head); fruit a multiple of achenes; plant lacking stinging hairs; [exotic plant of weedy situations]
                 9 Style 1; inflorescence an axillary spikes with glomerules, or a terminal or axillary panicle; plant either with stinging hairs or not; [plant a rare exotic (Boehmeria nivea) or a native of moist forests (Boehmeria cylindrica, Laportea)]
      4 Leaf margins entire.
                     11 Leaf base cordate; calyx 3-lobed, fused into a bilaterally symmetrical, curved brown or yellowish tube; fruit a capsule
                     11 Leaf base cuneate, rounded, or truncate; calyx of 3-4-5 distinct sepals, radially symmetrical, white or yellow; fruit a dry, nutlike drupe or an achene.
                       12 Leaves subsessile or very short petiolate, elliptic or narrowly elliptic, broadest near the middle; [native]
                       12 Leaves distinctly petiolate, rhombic, widest near the base; [rarely naturalized exotics].
                            14 Inflorescence a leaf-opposed (sometimes apparently terminal) spike or raceme; flowers visually white from white petaloid sepals, white bracts, or white stamens.
                              15 Sepals present, 4 or 5; petaloid, white; carpels 1 to many (-12); stamens 4 to many (-25); fruit a berry or an apically 2-lobed achene (as in Petiveria); leaf bases cuneate or rounded (but not cordate); [Eudicots].
                              15 Sepals absent; carpels 3-4; stamens 2-6 (-8); fruit a capsule, a 1-seeded drupe, or a schizocarp of 3-4 mericarps; leaf bases cordate or subcordate; [Basal Angiosperms].
                                  17 Fruit a capsule or schizocarp with 3-4 mericarps; stamens 3 or 6-8; plants terrestrial
                            14 Inflorescence not leaf-opposed, either simpler (single axillary or glomerules of flowers) or more complexly branched (axillary or terminal panicles or complex cymes); flowers white, reddish, scarious, or greenish.
                                    18 Stipules tubular, sheathing (= ocreae); flowers subtended by tubular, sheathing bracteoles (= ocreolae); nodes usually prominently swollen; perianth usually of 5-6 white to pink tepals
                                    18 Stipules not tubular or sheathing; flowers not subtended by ocreolae; nodes not swollen; perianth absent or of 3-5 sepals.
  2 Perianth biseriate (represented by differentiated whorls of sepals and petals, the sepals usually green or drab in color, the petals often brightly colored); flowers nearly always bisexual (there are exceptions).
                                                          28 Petals 4-7; stamens 1× or 2× as many as the petals, 4-7, 8, 10, 12, or14; leaves herbaceous in texture
                                                          28 Petals 5 (or sometimes doubled in horticultural forms); stamens 6-40 (or more); leaves fleshy in texture
                                                            29 Corolla bilaterally symmetrical, petals connate (except distinct in VIOLACEAE); fruit a capsule or legume (except a 1-seeded indehiscent spinose pod in Krameria in KRAMERIACEAE).
                                                              30 Petals connate (at least basally), 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8; carpels 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 (rarely 3 in Reseda in RESEDACEAE); fruit a legume or 1-, 2-, or 5-loculed capsule (except a 1-seeded indehiscent pod in Krameria in KRAMERIACEAE).
                                                                 31 Stamens 6-10 (-25), more than the number (4 or 5) of petals and the number (4 or 5) of the sepals; fruit a legume or a 1-6-carpellate capsule.
                                                                         35 Pistil 2-carpellate; capsule 2 locular, opening gradually or not at all; inflorescence a terminal spike, raceme or panicle (or solitary, axillary flowers in Chaenorrhinum in PLANTAGINACEAE and Krameria in KRAMERIACEAE).
                                                                              37 Stamens 4; corolla with a distinct spur or sac at the base between the the 2 lower calyx lobes (except not spurred in Digitalis and Schwalbea); capsule loculicidal (only at the summit in Antirrhinum and Chaenorrhinum, and septicidal in Schwalbea); pubescence of the stem and leaves neither gland-tipped (except in Antirrhinum and Chaenorrhinum) nor dendritically branched.
                                                                                    40 Pistils 4-10 (each 1-carpellate) in a ring, these sometimes fused basally, each with its own style/stigma; fruit either an aggregate of achenes or follicles or a 5 (-7) locular capsule.
                                                                                        42 Fruit an aggregate of follicles; leaves fleshy in texture; inflorescence; leaves entire of sparsely and coarsely serrate, with < 12 points per leaf; [plants primarily of dry habitats]
                                                                                    40 Pistil 1, with 1-to many carpels (in many MALVACEAE, the carpels loosely united in a ring [of more than 5] around the single style/stigma); fruit either a 1-, 2-, 3-, 5-, 6-, or 10-locular capsule, or a silique/silicle, or a ring of mericarps.
                                                                                             44 Petals 5 (rarely 4 or 6); sepals 5 (rarely 4 or 6); stamens 5 (or multiples of 5), 6, or 12; fruit a capsule or a ring of mericarps.
                                                                                                                             59 Corolla lobes very short, much shorter than the corolla cup or tube, sometimes barely perceptible and represented only by teeth on the edge of the corolla limb, white or pink; style 1; herbage often with stipitate glands; fresh plants often rankly aromatic
                                                                                                                                      63 Corolla lobes very short, much shorter than the corolla cup or tube, sometimes barely perceptible and represented only by teeth on the edge of the corolla limb, white, yellow, pink, various other colors (rarely including blue).

Key Q: herbaceous dicots with whorled leaves on the stem {add [Platycodon] CAMPANULACEAE}

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  2 Cauline leaves essentially sessile, and also palmately cleft to the base, and further lacerately divided into linear or oblanceolate segments
  2 Cauline leaves petiolate, with 3-5, sessile or petiolulate, ovate, elliptic, or obovate leaflets (these serrate and sometimes with additional lobes).
    3 Inflorescence a spherical umbel of many flowers; fruit a drupe with 2-3 seeds; stem leaves 3-5
      4 Leaflets 3 (-5), sessile or subsessile, the petiolules 0-3 mm long; larger leaflets 4-8 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm wide, averaging about 2.5× as long as wide, the apex obtuse to acute; fruit yellow-green when ripe, longitudinally winged and ribbed in ×-section; petals white (rarely tinged with pink); inflorescence nodding in bud; underground storage organ a spherical tuber
      4 Leaflets (3-) 5, petiolulate, the petiolules (7-) 10-25 mm long; larger leaflets 6-15 cm long, 3.5-7 cm wide, averaging about 1.8× as long as wide, the apex acuminate; fruit bright red when ripe, smoothly elliptical in ×-section; petals light green; inflorescence erect in bud; underground storage organ an +/- elongate root, this vertical or horizontal, and sometimes branched
    3 Inflorescence of single terminal flowers on the 1-several branches; fruit an aggregate of achenes; stem leaves 3
1 Cauline leaves simple.
        5 Inflorescence an involucrate head subtended by phyllaries, heads solitary or many, variously arrayed in secondary inflorescences; fruit a cypsela
        5 Inflorescence various, but not as above; fruit various, not as above (sometimes the flowers tightly grouped, but then with other features differing, such as stamens 4, or green calyx present, or fruit a schizocarp of mericarps, etc.).
          6 Fruit a 3-lobed, 3-locular capsule; inflorescence a cyathium, consisting of a single pistillate flower (reduced to a single 3-carpellate pistil) and 2 or more staminate flowers (each reduced to 1 stamen), borne in a cup-like involucre, the involucre bearing pointed or rounded glands, these sometimes brightly colored and petaloid, mimicking an individual flower (the cyathia then secondarily arranged in terminal cymes, or solitary and axillary, etc.); fresh plants with milky juice
          6 Fruit various, not as above; inflorescence not a cyathium (and staminate or bisexual flowers almost always with > 1 stamen); fresh plants lacking milky juice.
             7 Leaves succulent, the terminal whorls closely juxtaposed; pistils 4-5; fruit an aggregate of follicles
             7 Leaves herbaceous, thin in texture, whorls separated; pistil 1, of 2-5 fused carpels; fruit a capsule, achene, or drupe.
               8 Larger whorled leaves on a plant < 10 mm wide [some taxa keyed here and under the second lead].
                   10 Leaves markedly variable in shape or size in each whorl; fruit a capsule; petals 5
                   10 Leaves similar in size and shape in each whorl; fruit dry or fleshy, indehiscent; petals (3-) 4
                     11 Corolla bilaterally symmetrical, the petals connate; carpels 2; stamens 4, 6, or 8.
                     11 Corolla radially symmetrical, the petals separate; carpels 2, 3, or 5; stamens 5, 10, or many.
                          13 Inflorescence an axillary umbel; leaves narrowly linear and more than 10× as long as wide, > 20 mm long and < 2 mm wide; whorls of 3-6 leaves
                          13 Inflorescence a terminal cyme, raceme, panicle, or umbel; leaves as above, or broader in shape, narrower, or shorter; whorls of 3-16 leaves.
               8 Larger whorled leaves on a plant > 10 mm wide.
                                    18 Inflorescence of terminal involucrate clusters; perianth of 6 tepals; fruit an achene; stamens 9; [plants of very dry habitats]
                                    18 Inflorescence various, but not as above; perianth of 2 whorls (the calyx often obsolete in Galium in RUBIACEAE), 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, or 7-merous; stamens 2-7; [plants of dry-mesic to very wet habitats].
                                           21 Corolla pink-purple, 6-merous, the petals separate and borne on the edge of a hypanthium; stamens 8, 10, or 12; [plants of wetlands]
                                           21 Corolla white, yellow, or greenish, 4-, 5-, or 7-merous, the petals fused at least basally into a tube (falling as a unit), not on a hypanthium; stamens 2, 4, 5, or 7; [plants of mesic habitats].
                                               23 Petals yellowish-white, with prominent green streaks; biennial or monocarpic plant, 10-30 dm tall when fertile; leaves 15-35 cm long
                                               23 Petals white or yellow; perennial plants, 1-15 dm tall; leaves 1-15 cm long.
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