A family of dicotyledons (see dicotyledon), mostly herbs but including a few shrubs, with leaves that are usually alternate, without stipules, and often palmately lobed or compound. The flowers are usually regular, with 4 or 5 to many free sepals and petals, and numerous free and spirally arranged stamens and carpels. These are all features usually regarded as primitive, but exceptions to most of them occur within the genera of the family. Modern classifications recognize about 58 genera, with about 1750 species (e.g. Ranunculus (buttercups), occurring mostly in the northern temperate, Arctic, and alpine zones. Most are poisonous and very acrid; some are used in medicine; others (e.g. Delphinium and Anemone) are grown for their beautiful flowers.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.