Plant families: relationship in the garden

Theory today! The systematics in the realm of plants is super exciting and some knowledge in this area will help you practically in gardening. We have slimmed down the topic a bit to give you a first overview. So you will learn everything that is important without having to deal with too detailed information – after all, this is not a biology lecture.

A short excursion into botany

Everything that has to do with plants can be found in biology in the field of botany. Botany, also called plant science, deals among other things with the systematics of plants. Thereby all plants of this world are classified in a hierarchical system. The place of a plant within this system indicates with which other plants it is related. The classification is based on characteristics that the plants have in common. An example of such a subdivision within systematics is the family.

This system is revised over time as new plants are discovered all the time. This was especially the case in former times during the age of the great voyages of discovery, from which the explorers usually brought large quantities of previously unknown plants to Europe. There, new names and places in the system were then assigned. But even today, adaptations still take place. For example, spinach and beet are no longer counted in the goosefoot family, but in the foxtail family.

A very famous naturalist was Carl von Linné, who had the idea of classifying plants into different categories based on their flowers. Today, influenced by evolutionary biology, this works differently, but Linné’s influence is still visible in the names for the plant families: these are often named according to the appearance of the flowers, for example in the case of crucifers or composite plants.

The hierarchical subdivision can be well imagined by comparing boxes of different sizes. For example, one box is labeled Order: Rosaceous. Inside it there are many other boxes. On one of them is written Family: Rosaceae, on another one is written Family: Mulberry. There are also other family boxes. In the box with the rose family there are again smaller boxes, on one of them it says Genus: Rubus. In the box with the mulberry family there are also smaller boxes, on one of them is written genus: figs. In both cases, the genus boxes contain even smaller boxes, namely the ones with the concrete species. The species: Raspberry is in the Rubus box, the species: Fig in the Fig box.

Coarser than order are still tribe and class, so applies:

Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species. There are still some intermediate categories, e.g. family > subfamily > genus.

The fact that one stumbles again and again over the plant families, and not over the trunk, the order or genus, has a practical reason. So one has a rather rough division, in which several plants are summarized. However, these are still so similar that in the garden quite similar rules apply to them (what location they prefer, water, nutrient requirements, etc.).

The plant families

But now enough theory – let’s get started with the plants! Our focus is on the Bloomify assortment, but we also introduce a few other well-known representatives of the individual families.

We will give you a tabular overview of the plant families from the fruit trees and shrubs section and then describe the families in more detail. You will not only get to know the members of the family, but also learn about their most important characteristics, so that you can recognize them more easily in practice.

Important terminology: the opposite pair herbaceous/woody. Herbaceous plants do not lignify, so the shoots remain rather unstable and the plants do not grow as large, they are usually only annuals or biennials.

FamilyFamily members
Olive tree-
Olive tree
Rose petal-
Pome fruit: apple and pear,
Stone fruit: apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, cherry,
raspberry, blackberry, strawberry
Currant, Gooseberry
Ray Pencil-
Kiwi, Mini-Kiwi
Citrus plantsLemon, orange, lime,
Tangerine, Kumquat, Calamondin orange

Heather family

This plant family is huge and includes many ornamental plants such as the heather, known from the Lüneburg Heath.

Most species are woody and grow as shrubs. Some representatives are also edible, e.g. crowberries, which are mainly found in Scandinavian forests – just like wild blueberries. Within the family there is a genus called blueberries. It also includes cranberries and lingonberries – and of course the delicious blueberries

Mulberry family

This family is also very large and includes over 1000 species, most of which are perennial, woody and grow as shrubs or trees. In addition to various species of figs, there are, for example, the eponymous mulberries and the jackfruit tree.

Olive tree family

Most species retain their foliage even in winter and grow as shrubs or trees with corky bark. By the way, oil tree plants share the same order as the labiates, so, for example, rosemary and thyme.

Plant families: relationship in the garden
The rather inconspicuous flowers of the olive grow in clusters


From this family very many representatives can be found in our gardens, because they bear very tasty fruits: from apples to cherries and raspberries. Many rose species also form edible fruits, for example the rosehip.

Many species grow as shrubs, but trees or herbaceous plants also occur. The individual plants differ so much from each other that it is difficult to describe what they have in common. Nevertheless, the relationship can often be seen from the flowers.

Gooseberry family

This family is small, it includes only the genus of currants. Gooseberries belong to it as a species, among others. Most species are shrubs that shed their leaves in winter and bear juicy berries.

Ray Pencil Family

Most species of this family are found in the tropics. Fortunately, the best-known species also thrives here: the kiwi. All species are woody, their leaves are alternate and are usually shed in winter.

Vine family

The species of this family are also mostly found in tropical areas. They live for several years and bear fruit annually. Many species have tendrils and climb. The large leaves are often hairy on the underside.

Citrus plants

Strictly speaking, we should introduce the rue family at this point, since citrus plants are a genus of this family. Kumquats form their own genus, as does the calamondine orange, which is a cross between a tangerine and a kumquat. However, the species are extremely similar, so we cheekily refer to kumquats and calamondin oranges simply as citrus plants.

They are evergreen trees or shrubs that are usually richly branched and have thin bark. Their leaves are dark green, quite thick and sturdy, and they are also intensely fragrant. The flowers are equally fragrant and are located in the leaf axils. They are also thick and waxy or leathery to the touch.