Flower Magnoliids - Clade


Magnoliids is the smallest and most archaic of the three great "clades" of flowering plants. These plants display characteristics of some of the very earliest flowering plants. The clade contains only four modest sized orders, but all four orders are of great culinary interest, particularly as spices and flavorings, but some produce very desirable fruit as well. Many members of the clade are strongly medicinal, and some are psychoactive.   Photo by Phyzome distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

More on Magnoliophyta / Angiosperms.


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Piperales - Order
Colored Leaves The order Piperales contains five families, but only two, the Pepper family (Piperaceae) and the Lizard Tail family (Saururaceae) provide anything of culinary interest, so those are the only ones we will cover here. The Pepper Order has it's own page.

Laurales - Order
Various Laurels The order Laurales contains seven families, but only one, the Laurel Family provides much of culinary interest, so we are lumping family Gomortegaceae, which has only one species, in with the Laurels. The Laurel Family has it's own page.

Magnoliales - Order
This order contains six families. We have split this order into two pages because the culinary usage of the Family Annonaceae is so different from the others. The major family not considered here is the Magnolia / Tulip Tree family (Magnoliaceae) famous for flowering trees and wood, but providing no culinary value.


Custard Apple Family - Annonaceae
Atymoya Fruit

This family includes a number of important tropical fruits native to North, Central and South America, though some are now grown in Southeast Asia. The Custard Apple Family has it's own page.

Nutmeg Family - Myristicaceae
Nutmeg Drawing

The Nutmeg Family has over 440 species in about 20 genera, but our listing is not large. I'm sure there are many more species with culinary value, but my primary information comes from botanists, who could care less about culinary or any other uses - they're interested in identification and naming.

We include on this page also the family Eupomatiaceae, a family of only four known species, only one of which has culinary value.   Drawing of Nutmeg plant by Franz Eugen Köhler from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, copyright expired. The Nutmeg Family has it's own page.


Canellales - Order
This Order contains only two families, and of the two only Winteraceae provides anything of culinary interest. These southern hemisphere plants are part of the "Antarctic Flora" from when Antarctica was warm and before the continents broke apart.


Horopito   -   [Mountain Horopito, Pepperwood; Pseudowintera colorata of family Winteraceae]
Colored Leaves

This tree is native to New Zealand. It has primitive characteristics indicating it is one of the earliest flowering plants. The spicy hot leaves of this tree have become a common spice in New Zealand, usually dried and powdered, and used similarly to black pepper. It has long been used as a medicinal, both by the native Maori and European Settlers.   Photo by Peganum distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Unported.

Peppercorns, Tasmanian   -   [Mountain Pepper; Tasmannia lanceolata   |   also Dorrigo Pepper; Tasmannia stipitata - both of family Winteraceae, order Canellales]
Leaves, Berries

Native to Australia, these "peppercorns" look much like dried black peppercorns but have a pungency and numbing effect on the tongue similar to Sichuan peppercorns. Both dried berries and dried leaves carry the spiciness and both are used in cooking, usually dried and powdered. This plant is grown commercially in Australia and some is exported to Japan to be used to flavor wasabe paste (whether real wasabe or the horseradish paste also called "wasabe" I do not know). Both leaves and berries also show strong antimicrobial activity and are high in antioxidants.   Photo by Melburnian distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported..


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