Order Ericales / Heathers and Primrose Flowers

    Order Ericales

    Ericales is a large order of flowering plants comprising many economically important species like Brazil nuts, kiwifruit, and primrose. Ericales is very diverse, involving chiefly trees and terrestrial shrubs that are cosmopolitan in distribution.

    Some families of Ericales possess the ability for aluminum accumulation and exclusively form three kinds of mycorrhiza (ericoid, arbutoid, and monotropoid mycorrhiza). The typically bisexual flowers are pollinated via insects, bats, birds, and wind.

    Ericales Families

    Ericales with 22 families and 346 genera[1] are placed as a basal asterid with Cornales in the APG IV. The families of Ericales were previously placed in other orders. Morphological and molecular data support the circumscription of the order.

    Families under Ericales involve:

    • Actinidiaceae (Kiwifruit family)
    • Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)
    • Clethraceae (Clethra family)
    • Cyrillaceae (Cyrilla family)
    • Diapensiaceae (Pincushion plant family).
    • Ebenaceae (Ebony family)
    • Ericaceae (Heath family)
    • Fouquieriaceae (Ocotillo family)
    • Lecythidaceae (Brazil nut family).
    • Marcgraviaceae (Monkey paws family).
    • Mitrastemonaceae (Mitrastemma family)
    • Pentaphylacaceae (East Asian Eurya family).
    • Polemoniaceae (Jacob’s Ladder family).
    • Primulaceae (Primrose family)
    • Roridulaceae (Gorgon’s dewstick family).
    • Sapotaceae (Sapodilla family)
    • Sarraceniaceae (American pitcher-plant family).
    • Sladeniaceae
    • Styracaceae (Silverbell family)
    • Symplocaceae (Sweetleaf family)
    • Tetrameristaceae (Tea-mangrove family)
    • Theaceae (Tea plant family).

    Ericales Distribution

    Ericales Distribution

    Ericales has a cosmopolitan distribution. Some species have limited distribution in the tropics. Other species are chiefly found in the Arctic or temperate regions. The Ericaceae (heath, rhododendron, and blueberry family) exist as dominant plants over huge areas in the northern hemisphere.

    Ericales Characteristics

    Ericales Characteristics

    The members of Ericales share the following characteristics:

    Ericales Flowers and Reproduction

    Ericales Flowers and Reproduction

    Ericaceae[2] flowers are actinomorphic, pedicellateWhat is pedicellate?Borne on a pedicel; a flower characterized by having a stalk is also known as pedunculate or pedicellate; opposite is sessile (i.e., no stalk);, and bracteates (2 bracteoles). They are hypogynous or epigynous and mostly bisexual (rarely unisexual).

    The white alder family, Clethraceae[5], are hermaphrodite plants with flowers arranged in a raceme.

    • Branched hairs cover the axis of the raceme. The flowers are small, usually white and fragrant. There are typically 5 sepals in the imbricate calyx; 1 whorl.
    • There are 5 (-6) polypetalous and sessile petals in the imbricate corolla. Stamens are 10 or 2 in 2 whorls; alternisepalous.
    • There are 3 carpels, and the ovary is superior. White alder[6] is wind-pollinated. Seed dispersal is via wind, water, and seed-eating birds.
    • The touch-me-not family (Balsaminaceae[7] ) has showy flowers. They are bisexual and zygomorphic. The flowers possess 3 sepals and 5 petals; 1 single upper petal and 4 lower petals.
    • The flowers appear to have only 3 petals because there is a fusion of 2 petals on each side of the flower.
    • Five stamens are alternating with the petals. The gynoecium has 4-5 syncarpous carpels, and the ovary is superior. The family is usually pollinated by the bees.

    Mycorrhiza in Ericales

    Mycorrhiza In Ericales

    The symbiotic relationship between the fungi and the roots of the plants is called mycorrhiza. Depending on the fungal taxonomy and host plant, different forms of mycorrhizaeWhat is mycorrhizae?A symbiotic and non-pathogenic linkage between fungi and roots of many plants; symbiosis might be mutualistic or sometimes parasitic; Fungi may be superficial or contained within the host cells. (Plural form: mycorrhizae) are formed. The three distinctive forms of mycorrhizae formed by the Cornales are: ericoid, arbutoid, and monotroid.

    • Ericoid mycorrhiza: This type involves the relationship between the ascomycetes fungi and the species from the family Ericaceae. Fungal hyphae, instead of root hairs, are found in the small-diameter roots.
    • Arbutoid mycorrhiza: This mycorrhiza is formed between members of Ericaceae and Basidiomycetes. Arbutoid mycorrhiza has a Hartig net and a thick fungal mantle. The root epidermal cells possess dense hyphal complexes.
    • Monotropoin mycorrhiza: This form is the result of the relationship between Monotropaceae’s non-photosynthetic species and basidiomycetes. In this partnership, the carbohydrates from the photosynthetic plant are transferred to the non-photosynthetic host plant by the basidiomycetes. As a result, the root’s epidermis has a “peg” of fungal hyphae. In addition, the fungal mantle and Hartig net are also present.

    Ericales Example Species

    Ericales Example Species

    Ericales comprise 12,005 species[8]. Below are some of the example species that belong to this order.

    • Hardy kiwi – The fruit is edible.
    • Orange jewelweed – The young shoots and the seeds are edible. The plant has medicinal value.
    • Wand plant – This species is used as an ornamental plant. The plant is also consumed for medicinal use.
    • Lama tree or Hawaiin ebony- The berries are edible. The wood was traditionally used to construct fishing traps and the building of temples and house frames.
    • Prickly heath or prickly mingimingi[9] – The fruit of this plant is edible. The infusion from the leaves is used as traditional medicine.
    • Ocotillo – The fresh flowers of this plant is sometimes used in salads. The seeds (grounded) are used in making cakes. This species also has medicinal uses[10]. The poles are used as fencing materials.
    • Brazil nuts – The nuts are edible. The wood is used for construction, carpentry, and flooring.
    • Common primrose – The species is a garden plant. The flower and the leaves are edible. Its roots have medicinal properties.
    • Sapodilla – The fruit is edible. The leaves, bark, and seeds have medicinal values[11].
    • Carolina Silverbell – The species is a popular ornamental plant.

    Suggested Reading: February Birthstone Flower

    Cite This Page

    BioExplorer.net. (2024, April 13). Order Ericales / Heathers and Primrose Flowers. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-ericales/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Ericales / Heathers and Primrose Flowers" Bio Explorer, 13 April 2024, https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-ericales/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Ericales / Heathers and Primrose Flowers" Bio Explorer, April 13 2024. https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-ericales/.
    Key References
    • [1]“Ericales Program Overview – Botanical Research Institute of Texas and the Fort Worth Botanical Garden”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [2]“Ericaceae – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [3]“Flowers and pollinators of Ericaceae species. Fig. 3 A-B . Flowers… | Download Scientific Diagram”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [4]“Ericales | Description, Families, Characteristics, Phylogeny, & Facts | Britannica”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [5]“Clethraceae Klotzsch | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [6]“Alnus rhombifolia”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [7]“Balsaminaceae in Flora of China @ efloras.org”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [8]“Ericales”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [9]“Prickly mingimingi (Leptecophylla juniperina)”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [10]“Fouquieria splendens Ocotillo. Coach whip PFAF Plant Database”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.
    • [11]“Herbs from Distant Lands: Manilkara zapota – Sapodilla, Chico, Chicle”. Accessed December 28, 2021. Link.


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