The Family Asteraceae (a.k.a. Compositae, Composite, Sunflower, Aster) is an impressively large and diverse family of flowering plants (circa 20,000 species). This Topic in Depth offers an assemblage of sites that provide images of, and introductory information about, this remarkable family. From Backyard Nature (reviewed in the May 28, 2004 NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences) this educational webpage (1) site (part of naturalist Thomas J. Elpel's larger Wildflowers and Weeds website) exhibits clear photographs of members of the Dandelion Subfamily; and members of a number of tribes in the Aster Subfamily such as the Artichoke Tribe, Chamomile Tribe, Groundsel Tribe, and Sunflower Tribe. As part of a horticulture course at Oregon State University, the third site (3) offers a basic introduction to the Family Asteraceae accompanied by a simple Key to Important Genera. The site then provides more detailed profiles of four major crops in the Aster family including lettuce, globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, and chicory. Note: To reach the Family Asteraceae section of the Hort 233 course website, simply locate it in the index and select it. The fourth site (4) from Dave's Garden (a Texas-based software company) provides a multitude of images and profiles of members of Asteraceae that are used in gardening with information about spacing, sun exposure, hardiness zones, bloom time, and more. Look for the Chocolate Cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguieneus! From Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (5), the fifth site presents a simple Flower Dissection Lab using orchids and composite flowers. The sixth site (6), from Iziko Museums of Cape Town, provides basic information about "Tribes in the Asteraceae that occur in southern Africa." An alphabetical list of genera is available as well. At the final site (7), the National Sunflower Association (NSA) offers downloadable papers presented at the annual NSA Research Forum during the years 2002-05. Available search fields include year, author, keyword (s), and categories like Bird Predation, Insects, Quality, and Weeds.
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