This is a Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), a native shrub in the family Adoxaceae. It features radially symmetric (regular) flowers. The calyx consists of 3 fused sepals, with 5 fused petals, and 5 anthers. The ovary is inferior, and the gynoecium syncarpous. The inflorescence is a panicle, flowering in early summer. I found this elder along the Olentangy trail this summer. I bought an elderberry shrub off some lady at a farmers market in Ri-o Grande, OH this summer. She said to propagate, take a cutting in winter with two nodes and place in rich manure soil.

Rose-Of-Sharon, Hibisucus syriaca in the Malvaceae, have regular flowers, unfused. With showy 5-merous unfused flowers, the gynoecium is inferior, making this flower hypogynous. Stamens many, stigmas 5. The gynoecium is also syncarpous. I found this hibiscus growing escaped in a streambank of Glen Echo Park. The inflorescence is a single flower. I love finding Rose-Of-Sharon at old homesites when exploring the countryside – as a “garden persistent”, this flower will bloom long after a homestead is gone and the owners are a faded memory.

A representative of the bellflower family Campanulaceae, Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is a showy wildflower of rich, wet places in late summer. These flowers are bilaterally symmetric (zygomorphic), with a fused 5-sepal calyx and fused 5-petal carolla; 2 upper split down the middle, 3 lower. Inferior, epigynous syncarpous gynoecium. Stamens typically 5. These flowers have a spike inflorescence. I saw this in bloom at my study site in Glen Echo, along a riverbank in Kentucky, and at Glen Helen preserve. This summer was my first experience with water gardening; I grew Swamp Milkweed, Blue Flag Iris, and Lobelia!

As a member of the Composite family, Asteraceae*, this sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus is composed of two types of flowers: ray, and disc. The apparent “petals” are in fact sterile, modified individual flowers; each of the spots on the disc are its own individual flower. These feature an involucrate inflorescence, a head. 5-merous, sympetalous; 5 fused anthers form the androecium, a bristly calyx, and a bicarpellate, epigynous ovary. I found this flower at my study site in Glen Echo Ravine, growing with Rudbeckia on a disturbed hillside.

*  I included this asterisk because we are talking about Asteraceae.


This is a pawpaw (Asimina triloba), in the Annonaceae. I suppose you could call this a berry – it contains multiple unhardened seeds and is fleshy throughout. The flower is regular (actinomorphic), with a calyx of 3, 6 petals spiral unfused, and hypogynous, with an apparently apocarpous gynoecium. Anthers many. I found this pawpaw on the OSU campus, and it was delicious! There are two types of pawpaws – rich-tasting yellow pawpaws and less rich tasting white pawpaws. You just have to open them up and see! Solitary inflorescence.

This is Burr Sedge, Carex grayii, I think! According to Cornell, these have an achene fruit, no perianth, 1-3 anthers, unicarpellate and are hypogynous. The inflorescence is compound, a head. I found these sedges with edges at Big Run Park on a woody plants field trip.

This Setaria Foxtail Grass from Glen Echo is an example of a spikelet inflorescence and caryopsis fruit. The caryopsis fruit is unique to the grass family, and is unicarpellate.

These are multiple fruits from Morus alba, the white mulberry, from my summer internship at the USFS research station. Each unicarpellate fruit is formed from drupelets from multiple flowers in a catkin. Look at that frog!