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Genus of the Week

Week of April 5-11

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes , a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Rosidae
Order: Myrtales
Family: Trapaceae
Number of Species: At least 3
Root: Trapa simply means "trap" in Latin. A Caltrop (the common name of this family) is a tool of war, used to thwart the enemy. It is best described as a large metal ball with four spikes, one in each direction, such that one spike is always facing up however the ball is thrown.

The genus Trapa, covering a group of herbaceous aquatic species, is the only genus in the family Trapaceae. One species, T. natans, has the common name "European Water Chestnut", and although its fruits are edible, they are not the same as the "water chestnuts" used in Oriental cuisine. This same species has caused problems by clogging waterways and crowding out native plants in the regions of America where it has been introduced.

Here are some links to images and information for the genus Trapa:


  1. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.

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