Explore/The Monocots



Monocots are broadly defined as plants having a single seed leaf. They are an unranked clade within current (APG III) taxonomic systems, but unlike the Dicots are considered to be a Monophyletic group. Monocots comprise approximately 60,000 species of plant and many representatives are amongst the most well-known plants in the world.

The most numerous group are the Orchidaceae (Orchids) some 20,000 species including  showy hybrids as can be seen on sale in almost every large shop in the western world. Yet these hybrids varied and impressive as they are, make up just a tiny fraction of the group in terms of species. Orchids are typically seen as Epiphytes yet there are also large numbers of Geophytes (Bulbs). Orchids are unique in the way they manage their reproduction and in their association with specific Fungi in Mycorrhizal associations.

Another large and economically important group of Monocots are the Poaceae, or Grasses a family that provide much of the worlds basic foodstuffs.

Close behind are the Arecaceae or Palms a group that is vitally important in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Then there are the Banana, Ginger and Onion Families (Musaceae, Zingiberaceae and Amaryllidaceae) Gardeners in the Western Hemisphrere will be familiar with Lilies and the Asparagus Family (Liliaceae & Asparagaceae)

Although historically a coherent group as a whole, the internal divisions within have been moved many times and recent revisions have not shown this trend to be slowing with significant changes to many core groups such as the Liliaceae, Asparagaceae and the transfer of many species into formerly minor groups such as the Xanthorrhoeaceae.



  1. 1.Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 12, July 2012 [and more or less continuously updated since] (Accessed August 11th 2012)

  2. 2.http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/welcome.html (Accessed August 11th 2012)


  1. 1.Angiosperm Phylogeny Poster (Downloadable pdf, Accessed August 11th 2012)

  2. 2.ANGIOSPERMS: The flowering plants A chart of flowering plant families (Downloadable pdf, Accessed August 11th 2012)

All text & Images ©Andrew Brown 2003-2014