This is a large family of herbs with hollow stems and alternate leaves, most often compound and usually swollen at the base. The small flowers appear in compound umbels-that is, the stalks which radiate from the top of the stem bear not single flowers but small groups of flowers again on little stems. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens and two styles. The ovary is inferior and the fruit is dry, ribbed or winged and is necessary to identify most of the genera and species. (Dale 45).
The family includes useful garden vegetables such as parsley, carrots and celery as well as dill, anise and others found in spice cabinets. We have as immigrants Sweet Fennel, Common Celery and Poison Hemlock. (Dale 45).
The umbelliferous fruit is very characteristic. It is a dry fruit of two parts (carpels) which separate at maturity along the midline into two one-seeded halves. The two halves remain attached for a time after splitting by a forked stalk. Each half of the fruit bears, on the outside, 5 longitudinal membranous or corky ribs, and in some cases there is one smaller rib in each of the four furrows or grooves between the main ribs. Within the grooves, as is best seen by a cross-section, are oil tubes running lengthwise the fruit. These tubes contain secretions of balsams, resins and volatile oils. It is usually necessary to have the mature fruit in order to make a positive identification of a species. (Robbins et al. 317).
About 250 genera and 2000 species, widely distributed and many of economic importance for food, flavoring, etc. Some are poisonous. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 67).
It is proposed to move Bowlesia incana and Hydrocotyle ranunculoides to family Araliaceae. I will not make these changes at this time, January 2010.