The pink family in Belgium:
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In this project, we will deal with the Caryophyllaceae (pink family), a large family of flowering plants. These are mostly herbaceous plants which mainly occur in temperate areas. Some also prosper in tropical mountain chains – where the climate is milder. With about 80 genera and more than 2500 known species, the Caryophyllaceae are a rather large family. We encounter several species in our region, both indigenous and introduced as ornamentals. Mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium), carnation and pink (Dianthus), campion and catchfly (Silene), sandspurry (Spergularia), and chickweed (Stellaria) are examples of native plants.
A very special small plant, the Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis), also belongs to this family; it does not stand out due to its modest size or form but because of its distribution: it is one of just three flowering plant species occurring on the Antarctic continent and the only plant with “obvious flowers” in Antarctica, the other two being grasses and thus bearing unimpressive spikes. Not bad for the Caryophyllaceae, right?
The Belgian Herbarium:
Meise Botanic Garden holds the largest herbarium collection of Belgian plant specimens. Each of these herbarium specimens has a label with valuable information such as the plant’s identification, and when, where, and who collected the plant. These specimens can be used in many domains of research, such as conservation, evolution, ecology and systematics. These data help us to better understand the plants of Belgium, their history and that of people who collected them. There are about 200,000 specimens in the Belgian Herbarium of the Meise Botanic Garden and we want to document them all! These data will then be made available online at www.botanicalcollections.be.
Belgium, Caryophyllaceae, Herbae, Hortus Botanicus Meise, Botanica.