Pests of Umbelliferous Crops

  • P. R. Ellis
  • J. A. Hardman


The Umbelliferae family of flowering plants is characterised by a distinctive inflorescence called an umbel, a word derived from umbella, Latin for ‘a sunshade’. The typical umbel is a flat-topped flower cluster in which individual flower stalks grow to different lengths to raise all flowers to the same height. The Umbelliferae comprise about 300 genera with 2500–3000 species occurring in most parts of the world. Most species are found in temperate uplands and are relatively scarce in tropical zones. Apart from the umbel, members of this family also possess characteristic two-endospermic-seeded fruits and a distinctive chemistry which provides the basis for their unique flavour and fragrance. Most umbellifers are herbaceous annuals, biennials or perennials, but a few are woody shrubs. The majority of species form, initially, a rosette of leaves on a tap root and, later, a stem which elongates to bear flowers. Some species, however, form tubers, a few are rhizomatous and others are stoloniferous. Down through the ages, members of this family have been used by Chinese, Mexican Indian, Greek and Roman civilisations. A few species, such as carrots, celery and parsnips, are staple foods, while other species are grown as herbs and spices. A few umbellifers are important as flavouring and decorative components of foods and drinks. Several species are valuable sources of gums and medicines, while others are grown as ornamentals. More recently, in the search for additional food crops, considerable interest has been shown in arracacha, an Andean umbellifer used formerly by Inca Indians and now by peasant farmers. It is a root vegetable crop with great potential as a source of food. A list of the most important species grown in horticulture is provided in Table 9.1.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. R. Ellis
  • J. A. Hardman

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