Asteridae: Lamiales. The Boraginaceae are herbs, shrubs or trees comprising about 100 genera and 2,000 species that have flowers in helicoid cymes and often have herbage that is coarsely hairy. The leaves are simple, mostly entire, and alternate; stipules are lacking. The flowers are nearly always bisexual and actinomorphic. The calyx consists of 5 distinct or connate sepals. The corolla is 5-merous, sympetalous, and often has small appendages in the throat. The androecium consists of 5 distinct stamens adnate to the corolla tube or perigynous zone and alternate with the corolla lobes. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 2 carpels, a single, often gynobasic style, and a superior, often deeply 4-lobed ovary with 4 locules, each containing a single basal-axile ovule. An annular nectary disk is sometimes present. The fruit consists of 4 1-seeded nutlets or a 1-4-seeded nut or drupe.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Tournefortia argentea, tree heliotrope. The tropical, woody borages such as this one usually have an unlobed ovary and a terminal style. Note the helicoid cymose inflorescence.
Cordia subcordata, kou. The wood of this tree is commonly used for making bowls and other knickknacks. The 6-merous perianth and androecium is exceptional in the family. Note the style tip with two major and two minor lobes. The tubular calyx is persistent and envelopes the fruits, some immature ones of which can be seen behind the flowers.
Amsinkia sp., fiddleneck. The common name comes from the shape of the inflorescence but that is not evident in this photo. However, the rough hairs common in the family are evident. Note also the 5-merous flowers and stamens alternating with corolla lobes.
Cynoglossum officinale, hound's tongue. As flowering proceeds, the helicoid inflorescence straightens out. Only the tip of this inflorescence where the reddish flower may be seen is still coiled. Notice the style extending down between the ovary lobes. The ovary splits into 4 one-seeded nutlets.
Lithospermum ruderale. Two mature nutlets can be seen in this fruiting calyx. It is common for 1 or more of the nutlets to abort. Note the coarse hairs on the sepals.
Heliotropium anomalum, hinahina. This silvery Hawaiian native nicely illustrates the helicoid cymes typical of the family.
Heliotropium curassavicum, kipukai. This native Hawaiian seaside heliotrope is unusual because of its lack of hairs.
Echium wildpretii.

Flowering Plant Family Access Page
Home Page