The plant family Asteraceae: 4 Interesting growth forms and economic importance

  • P. P.J. Herman Nasionale Botaniese Instituut, Pretoria


The plant family Asteraceae contains a wealth of different and interesting growth forms like annual or perennial herbs, dwarf shrubs, shrubs, trees, climbers, succulents, aquatic plants, rosette plants, cushion plants, ericoid, prostrate, grass-like and spinescent. The leaves also exhibit numerous different shapes and characters, e.g. alternate, opposite, fascicled, sessile, petiolate, simple, entire, dentate, lobed or pinnate, compound, with three to five main veins, reduced or absent, glabrous or densely hairy on upper or lower surface. Sometimes latex is present and some plants are aromatic. Certain members of the family are also economically important; some are edible or used as medicine while others are poisonous, some are utilised as grazing but others are weeds, and the wood of some was used in the past.