Lamiaceae

The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants. They have traditionally been considered closely related to Verbenaceae, but in the 1990s, phylogenetic studies suggested that many genera classified in Verbenaceae belong instead in Lamiaceae. The currently accepted version of Verbenaceae may not be more closely related to Lamiaceae than some of the other families in the order Lamiales. It is not yet known which of the families in Lamiales is closest to Lamiaceae.

The family has a cosmopolitan distribution. The enlarged Lamiaceae contains about 236 genera and 6,900 to 7,200 species. The largest genera are Salvia (900), Scutellaria (360), Stachys (300), Plectranthus (300), Hyptis (280), Teucrium (250), Vitex, (250) Thymus (220), and Nepeta (200). Clerodendrum was once a genus of over 400 species, but by 2010, it had been narrowed to about 150.

The plants are frequently aromatic in all parts and include many widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and perilla. Some are shrubs; trees, such as teak; or, rarely, vines. Many members of the family are widely cultivated, owing not only to their aromatic qualities but also their ease of cultivation: these plants are among the easiest plants to propagate by stem cuttings. Besides those grown for their edible leaves, some are grown for decorative foliage, such as coleus. Others are grown for food purposes, but seeds are utilized instead of leaves, such as with chia.

The original family name is Labiateae, so given because the flowers typically have petals fused into an upper lip and a lower lip. Although this is still considered an acceptable alternative name, most botanists now use the name "Lamiaceae" in referring to this family.

The leaves emerge oppositely, each pair at right angles to the previous one (called decussate) or whorled.

The stems are frequently square in cross section, but this is not found in all members of the family, and is sometimes found in other plant families.

The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical with 5 united petals, 5 united sepals. They are usually bisexual and verticillastrate (a flower cluster that looks like a whorl of flowers but actually consists of two crowded clusters).

Read more about Lamiaceae:  Genera, Recent Changes, Subfamilies and Tribes, Phylogeny

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Vitex
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