Cronquist, Arthur Formerly, New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York.
Barkley, Theodore M. Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.
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An order of flowering plants, division Magnoliophyta (Angiospermae), in the subclass Magnoliidae of the class Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). The order Ranunculales consists of 7 or 8 families and about 3200–4500 species, depending on the classification scheme. The vast majority of the species belong to three families: Ranunculaceae, with approximately 2000 species; Berberidaceae, with some 650 species; and Menispermaceae, with about 425 species. Many taxonomists now include the members of the order Papaverales [including the family Papaveraceae, containing the poppies (Papaver)] in an expanded Ranunculales. Within its subclass, the order Ranunculales is characterized by its mostly separate carpels, triaperturate pollen, herbaceous or only secondarily woody habit, frequently numerous stamens, generally more than two sepals, and lack of ethereal oil cells. Many members of the order produce benzylisoquinoline alkaloids or aporphine alkaloids, or both. Species of the Ranunculales are generally considered to be derived from the Magnoliales, a woody order in the same subclass. The barberry (Berberis), in the family Berberidaceae, and the buttercup (Ranunculus), columbine (Aquilegia; see illustration), larkspur (Delphinium), and windflower (Anemone), in the family Ranunculaceae, are familiar genera. See also: Alkaloid; Magnoliales; Magnoliidae; Magnoliophyta; Magnoliopsida; Papaverales; Plant kingdom; Poppy
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