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a family of dicotyledonous plants consisting of herbs, more rarely semishrubs, and very rarely shrubs. Plants of the Caryophyllaceae family almost always have opposite, mostly sessile, entire, and usually narrow leaves. The blossoms are regular, generally bisexual, five-membered, and predominantly in dichasia. The ovary is superior; the fruit is a boll, or more rarely nutlike or berrylike. There are approximately 80 genera and 2,100 species, chiefly in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. In the USSR there are more than 40 genera and 675 species. The most widespread are Silene, Gypsophila, and Cerastium. Dianthuses, catchfly, Lychnis, and Saponaria are ornamentals. Some Caryophyllaceae are weeds—for example, corn cockle (poisonous), chickweed, spurry, and Spergularia. The subterranean organs of spiny-leaved plants, Saponaria, Gypsophila, and less often other Caryophyllaceae, which contain saponin, are used under the name “soaproot” in the manufacture of halvah and lemonade and for washing woolen and silk textiles. Some Caryophyllaceae are used in perfumery and medicine.
REFERENCETakhtadzhian, A. L. Sistema i filogeniia tsvetkovykh rastenii. Moscow, 1966. Pages 159-61.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV