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A botanical illustration of Silaum silaus
A botanical illustration of Silaum silaus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Silaum

Silaum is a genus of flowering plants in the carrot/parsley family, Apiaceae. There are currently ten species placed into the genus, a list of which is provided below.[1]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

Silaum was first formally described in 1754 by the Scottish botanist in charge of the Chelsea Physic Garden, Philip Miller; this description was published in his own reference series, The Gardeners Dictionary (abr., ed. 4 (1754)).[2] The etymology of Silaum was not explicitly offered by Miller, who applied a plant name used by Pliny,[3] though it may refer to the mountainous plateau La Sila in southern Italy.[4]


Plants in the genus Silaum have umbels which are characteristic of plants in the Apiaceae family (they are umbelliferous, "umbel-bearing"); the umbels in Silaus species tend to lack bracts.[2] Silaus species also tend to have a few umbellules (secondary umbels of compound umbels), and these umbellules have several small bracts called bractlets.[2] Remains of dead leaves can often be found at the base of the plant; plants in Silaum are richly branched.[2]

The fruits of Silaum species have a carpophore,[2] a supporting slender stalk for each half of a gape or burst open (dehisced) fruit[5] - these are common throughout the Apiaceae family; the carpophore is thread or filament-shaped (filiform).[2] In addition, Silaum fruits are elongated, divided and not flattened.[2] The mericarps (one carpel of umbelliferous fruit)[6] have acute edges and five, rather low ridges.[2] Plants in Silaus also have an oil tube in the fruit, called a vitta[2][7] - there is one vitta per every ridge of furrow (a vallecula), but are indistinct at maturity.[2] The petals that surround the flowers are yellow.[2]


The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) lists ten species that are currently placed in the genus Silaum:[1]


  1. ^ a b "Silaum Mill". GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fröberg, Lars. "Silaum". Apiaceae for Flora Nordica. Flora Nordica. Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, Book XXVI, chapter lvi, § 88, the sole mention of Silaus: silaus nascitur glariosis et perennibus rivis, cubitalis apii similitudine...
  4. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 353–. ISBN 9780521866453. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "definition of carpophore". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "definition of Mericarp". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "definition of vitta". Retrieved 30 December 2013.