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Ericales

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Ericales
450px-Erica-vagans.jpg
Scientific Classification
Selected Families

Ericales is a large taxonomic order of dicot flowering plants. It includes tea, persimmon, rhododendrons, pyrola, blueberries, cranberries, and azaleas. Plants in this order prefer moist acidic soils. They also rely on an association with endotrophic mycorrhizae. (This is when fungal cells penetrate the plant's roots. This is a beautiful and diverse group that is economically important. [2]

Anatomy

Azalea

This order includes vast varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. A Few of the tree species can grow to be 20 to 35 meters high. The most beautiful horticultural plants are also included in this family, such as the rhododendron. The leaves size can range from 1-2 cm to over 50 cm. In some species the underside of the leaves are covered with scales (lepidotes) or hairs (indumentums). They are noted for their many clusters of large flowers. [3] Other economically important plants are blueberries and cranberries. They provide us with edible fruits and nourishment. Blueberries vary in size from 10 to 4 m tall. The smaller species are known as "lowbush blueberries", and the larger species as "highbush blueberries." Cranberries are known as a low, creeping shrub. They have vines that are to 2m long and 5 to 20 cm in height. Cranberries also have slender stems. Pyrola are commonly known as wintergreens. The oil of wintergreens gives the plant the familiar smell. [4]

Reproduction

Reproduction in most of the plants in Ericales are generally the same. They reproduce sexually by pollination. They rely on insects to carry the pollen around to other plants. To attract the insects they must be colorful. The flowers grow in summer and the seed capsules in autumn. The seeds are generally very small. The fruit plants however, such as cranberries and blueberries reproduce in a different way. They reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes. They are dispersed by various birds and mammals. The production of fruit is strongly influenced by weather conditions, climate, light intensity, genetic factors, and nutrient levels at the time the bud develops. Cross-pollination by insects is necessary for good fruit.[5]

Ecology

Red Rhododendron

Ericales are widely spread throughout the United States. Some are found primarily in the tropics while others may only live in arctic or temperate regions. However the blueberry is most abundant in the tropics, such as Malaysia and southeastern Asia. There they develop as shrubs in the cool, moist regions known as cloud forests, or in some tropical environments. The largest blueberry genus is Vaccinium, with some 450 species scattered throughout the world but especially in tropical Asia. [6]

Economical Importance

Ericales is an order with many important plants. The order provides us with tea, kiwi fruits, blueberry, huckleberry, cranberry, Brazil nut, and even shea. Shea consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed. From this seed we get shea butter. Shea butter is well known for being a skin healer. The rest of the fruiting plants gives us a source of food and nutrients. The Brazil nut is not only used for food, but also used as a lubricant in clocks. Some are just beautiful to look at. Such as; azalea, Rhododendron, polyanthus, cyclamen, phlox, and busy Lizzie. [7]

Gallery

References