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Key to Melanthiaceae

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1 Leaves 3, whorled at the summit of the stem; flowers 1 per plant, solitary and terminal
1 Leaves many, not whorled at the summit of the stem; flowers many per plant, in spikes, racemes, or panicles.
  2 Leaves 1-2 mm wide, linear, stiff, sclerified
  2 Leaves 3-150 mm wide, linear, obovate, or oblanceolate, not notably stiff.
    3 Main (basal) leaves obovate or oblanceolate, the main secondary veins diverging individually (at angles of < 10°) from the midvein in the lower half of the expanded blade and rejoining at the apex; flowers pink, white or cream.
      4 Flowers white to cream; plants dioecious (individual flowers either male or female)
      4 Flowers pink; plants hermaphroditic (individual flowers bisexual)
    3 Main (basal) leaves linear, elliptic, or obovate, the main veins parallel, all diverging at the base of the leaf and rejoining at the apex; flowers white, cream, yellowish, greenish, or brownish.
          6 Inflorescence a spike (the flowers sessile); [of s. GA south to s. FL, and e., se., and c. TX westwards]
          6 Inflorescence a raceme (the flowers pedicellate); [collectively widespread in our area].
             7 Basal leaves 4-many, (4-) 7-10 (-23) mm wide; basal leaves not enclosed by a basal sheath (all basal leaves with blades, and the leaf bases usually white); capsule suborbicular, 5-7 mm long, 5-7 mm wide; older flowers and developing capsules turning green; bulb broadly ovoid; [widespread in our area, including Coastal Plain pine savannas]
             7 Basal leaves 1-3, 2-6 (-10) mm wide; basal leaves enclosed by a basal purple (bladeless) sheath 3-8 cm long; capsule conical, 7-12 mm long, 3-4 mm wide; older flowers and developing capsules turning pink; bulb cylindrical; [of Coastal Plain pine savannas and similar habitats]
               8 Inflorescence axes scurfy-pubescent; seeds winged; leaves either linear or broader, < 14 cm wide.
                 9 Leaves basally disposed; leaves not at all to slightly plicate, 1-14 cm wide; tepals glabrous, 4-9 mm long, 1-3 mm wide (3-5 mm wide in M. hybridum), with either conspicuous (M. hybridum) or diffuse (M. parviflorum and M. woodii) glands; filaments fused to the basal claw of the tepal
                 9 Leaves cauline; leaves strongly plicate, 6-15 cm wide; tepals pubescent, 8-13 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, with a conspicuous pair of glands near the base of the tepal blade (these sometimes more or less fused); filaments free from the tepals
               8 Inflorescence axes glabrous; seeds not winged (though sometimes angled); leaves linear, < 2 cm wide.
                   10 Leaves strongly keeled, (5-) 10-20 mm wide; plant colonial, from thick, hard, horizontal, short-creeping rhizomes covered with fibrous old leaf bases; inner tepals (petals) 7-17 mm long, distinctly clawed, acute-acuminate at the tip, bearing 2 glands well above the base
                   10 Leaves slightly or not at all keeled, 2-12 mm wide; plant solitary, from a bulbous or semibulbous base; inner tepals (petals) 3-6 or 7-12 mm long, clawed or not, bearing either a single (sometimes obscure to essentially invisible) gland near the base or a bilobed gland well above the base.
                     11 Inner tepals 3-10 mm long, not clawed, with a single, unlobed gland borne near the base (this often difficult or impossible to see, consisting only of a greenish line at the very base of the tepal); [of acid habitats of the Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain]
                     11 Inner tepals (petals) 6-12 mm long, clawed, with a single unlobed or bilobed gland borne well above the base; [of calcareous habitats].
                       12 Tepals 6-8 mm long, the gland unlobed; [nw. MS, s. MO, AR, and LA westwards]
                       12 Tepals 7-12 mm long, the gland bilobed; [calcareous Appalachians of PA, VA, WV, and NC; s. OH; s. MO; and northwards]

Key to Veratrum

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1 Leaves basally disposed; leaves not at all to slightly plicate, 1-14 cm wide; tepals glabrous, 4-9 mm long, 1-3 mm wide (3-5 mm wide in M. hybridum), with either conspicuous (M. hybridum) or diffuse (M. parviflorum and M. woodii) glands; filaments fused to the basal claw of the tepal
1 Leaves cauline; leaves strongly plicate, 6-15 cm wide; tepals pubescent, 8-13 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, with a conspicuous pair of glands near the base of the tepal blade (these sometimes more or less fused); filaments free from the tepals

Key M2: monocots with broad leaves

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1 Leaves compound.
  2 Plants herbaceous; leaves palmately 3-foliolate or pedately compound
  2 Plants woody; leaves either palmately divided or pinnately compound into > 20 segments
1 Leaves simple.
    3 Leaves opposite or whorled, cauline.
      4 Leaves opposite; flowers bilaterally symmetrical
      4 Leaves whorled; flowers radially or bilaterally symmetrical.
        5 Plant with 2 or more leaf-bearing nodes (all nodes whorled or some alternate).
          6 Leaves broad, < 2× as long as wide, cordate at the base; flowers unisexual and plants dioecious
          6 Leaves lanceolate, oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, > 4× as long as wide, cuneate at the base; flowers bisexual and plants hermaphroditic
        5 Plant with a single leaf-bearing node.
             7 Leaves in whorls of 3 leaves
             7 Leaves in whorls of 5 or more leaves.
               8 Stem floccose, wiry (and at maturity with a second smaller whorl with usually 3 leaves subtending the flowers); flowers radially symmetrical
               8 Stem glabrous, fleshy, never with a second whorl; flowers bilaterally symmetrical
    3 Leaves alternate, either cauline or basal.
                 9 Inflorescence a spadix (a dense spike of hundreds of flowers, the rachis thickened and somewhat fleshy) subtended by a spathe (a green, white, orange, yellowish-green, or maroon bract) (spathe missing in Orontium)
                 9 Inflorescence otherwise, a raceme, panicle, cyme, umbel, spike, etc., the flowers arrayed in a more diffuse manner, the central rachis not thickened, the inflorescence subtended or not by green or scarious spathes.
                   10 Flowers bilaterally symmetrical or asymmetrical; fertile stamens 1 or 2 (or 5 in MUSACEAE), often with several staminodes present as well; tepals 6.
                     11 Leaf venation parallel; leaves various in size and shape, if > 3 dm long, then < 1 dm wide; perianth often differentiated into a lip and 5 petaloid tepals
                     11 Leaf venation prominently penni-parallel; leaves large, at least some on a plant with blade > 2 dm long.
                       12 Fertile stamens 5-6; leaf blades 6-30 dm long
                       12 Fertile stamen 1; leaf blades 0.5-7 dm long.
                            14 Leaves lacking ligules; ovary and fruit with warty excrescences
                            14 Leaves with 2 stipule-like ligules; ovary and fruit smooth
                   10 Flowers radially symmetrical (weakly to strongly bilaterally symmetrical in PONTEDERIACEAE); stamens 6 (rarely 3, 4, 5, 9, 12, 15, or 18); tepals usually 6 (rarely 3 or 4), when 6, either undifferentiated (6 or 4 tepals) or differentiated into 3 petals and 3 sepals.
                                16 Inflorescence subtended by spathes (well-developed green or scarious bracts).
                                  17 Perianth not differentiated, consisting of 6 similarly colored and shaped tepals; flowers strongly to slightly bilaterally symmetrical; inflorescence lacking well-developed spathaceous bracts
                                  17 Perianth differentiated into green sepals and more brightly colored petals; flowers radially symmetrical (or weakly bilaterally symmetrical, as in some Commelina).
                                    18 Ovary superior; fruit a capsule; stamens 6; [plants mainly of uplands (Murdannia and sometimes Commelina of wetlands)]
                                16 Inflorescence not subtended by spathes, though individual small green bracts sometimes subtending individual flowers.
                                       19 Gynoecium of 2 or more pistils (6 in Butomus); fruit achenes or follicles; inflorescence a raceme or panicle with branching in whorls of 3 OR a bracteate umbel; [wetland plants].
                                         20 Flowers consisting of white petals and green sepals, with 1-many stamens and 3-many carpels (but not consistently with 9 stamens and 6 carpels); inflorescence a raceme or panicle in whorls of 3, branched; leaf blades flat or terete
                                         20 Flowers consisting of pink petals and green-pink sepals, usually with 9 stamens and 6 carpels; inflorescence an umbel; leaf blades triquetrous in cross-section
                                       19 Gynoecium of 1 pistil; fruit simple, a capsule or berry; inflorescence various, terminal or axillary, but if a raceme or panicle, not with branching in whorls of 3; [upland (or very rarely wetland) plants].
                                                    25 Inflorescence a terminal raceme or panicle; fruit a capsule; tepals white, green, yellowish, or pink; flowers either bisexual (Helonias in HELONIADACEAE), or unisexual and primarily on different plants (dioecious) (Chamaelirium in CHIONOGRAPHIDACEAE), or a mix of bisexual and unisexual staminate flowers (Veratrum in MELANTHIACEAE)
                                                      26 Inflorescences bracteate, with bracts subtending individual pedicels and (if they are present) branches of the inflorescence; tepals white, greenish-white, or cream
                                                      26 Inflorescence ebracteate, lacking bracts subtending pedicels; flowers bisexual (Helonias) or predominantly unisexual and on different plants (dioecious) (Chamaelirium); tepals pink (Helonias) or white to cream (Chamaelirium).
                                                        27 Flowers white to cream; plants dioecious (individual plants either male or female, with all male flowers or all female flowers)
                                                            29 Inflorescence an axillary solitary flower, a few-flowered cyme, or a panicle; fruit a capsule (winged in Dioscorea, unwinged in Croomia); axillary tendrils never present (plant not climbing, or climbing by twining).
                                                              30 Tepals 6; stamens 6; flowers unisexual (and generally on separate plants, therefore dioecious); inflorescence of a solitary flowers or a panicle; ovary inferior; [widespread in our area]
                                                                 31 Leaves alternate and in whorls at some nodes; flowers orange; tepals > 5 cm long; inflorescence a terminal umbel or single flower
                                                                 31 Leaves strictly alternate; flowers yellow, white, pink, greenish, or maroon; tepals < 5 cm long; inflorescence either a terminal cluster, raceme, panicle or umbel, or an axillary raceme, cluster or solitary flower.
                                                                   32 Inflorescence either a terminal cluster, raceme, or panicle, or an axillary raceme, cluster or solitary flower; flowers actinomorphic, variously colored (most white or yellow), the tepals < 3.5 cm long (except Uvularia grandiflora).
                                                                     33 Leaves arrayed spirally around an erect, unbranched stem; fruit a septicidal capsule; flowers a mixture of bisexual and unisexual (staminate) on a plant; perianth white, greenish white, or maroon.
                                                                       34 Leaves basally disposed; leaves not at all to slightly plicate, 1-14 cm wide; tepals glabrous, 4-9 mm long, 1-3 mm wide (3-5 mm wide in M. hybridum), with either conspicuous (M. hybridum) or diffuse (M. parviflorum and M. woodii) glands; filaments fused to the basal claw of the tepal
                                                                       34 Leaves cauline; leaves strongly plicate, 6-15 cm wide; tepals pubescent, 8-13 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, with a conspicuous pair of glands near the base of the tepal blade (these sometimes more or less fused); filaments free from the tepals
                                                                     33 Leaves arrayed distichously (2 ranked) along an arching, unbranched or dichotomously (Y-forking) branched stem; fruit a berry or loculicidal capsule; flowers all bisexual; perianth white, pink, or yellow.
                                                                         35 Stems of fertile and sterile individuals simple (never branched); inflorescence a terminal raceme or panicle (Maianthemum) or axillary racemes or clusters of 1-9 flowers (Polygonatum); fruit a berry.
                                                                         35 Stems of fertile individuals branched (always at least bifurcate), but sterile individuals in some genera characteristically unbranched; inflorescence either of 1 (-2) flower(s) borne in a leaf axil (Uvularia, Streptopus), or of (1) 2 (-3) flowers borne terminally opposite the last leaf (Prosartes); fruit a berry or capsule.
                                                                                38 Stem brown, wiry, puberulent; last 2 leaves (near stem tip) on each branch approximate to one another (sometimes subopposite) and with noticeably oblique bases; flowers and fruits terminal on the branches
                                                                                38 Stem green, not wiry, glabrous; last 2 leaves (near stem tip) on each branch no closer together than other leaves, with symmetrical bases; flowers (and fruits) either terminal on the branches or solitary and axillary to most leaves.
                                                                                  39 Flowers and fruits in single terminal clusters (sometimes appearing axillary, but still only one cluster per branch of the stem); tepals pale to rich yellow
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