The importance of this family for food crops has led to its selective breeding throughout history. Some examples of cruciferous food plants are the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, rapeseed, mustard, radish, horseradish, cress, wasabi and watercress. This is a large family with many plants of major economic importance, including many familiat vegetables (Cabbage, Turnip), oil crops (Oil-seed Rape), ornamental plants (Wallflower, Alyssum), and weeds (Bittercress).
They are found more or less all over the world, with most species occurring in the north temperate region and few in the southern hemisphere. They are mostly annual or perennial herbaceous plants, with one or two small shrubs or climbers.
Matthiola (stock), Cheiranthus, Alyssum and Iberis (candytufts) are appreciated for their flowers. Lunaria (honesty) is cultivated for the decorative value of the translucent repulum of the round silicula that remains on the dried stems after dehiscence.
Capsella bursa-pastoris, Lepidium and many Cardamine are common weeds.
Isat is tinctoria (woad) was used in the past to produce the colour indigo.
Arabidopsis thaliana is a very important model organism in the study of the flowering plants (Angiospermae).
Solanaceae is a family of flowering plants that contains a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solatium" the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear. Most likely, the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun and its rays, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum) is known as the sunberry.
Alternatively, it has been suggested the name originates from the Latin verb solari, meaning "to soothe". This presumably refers to soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species of the family. The family is also informally known as the nightshade - or potato family.
The family includes Datura (Jimson weed), Mandragora (mandrake), belladonna (deadly nightshade), Capsicum (paprika, chili pepper), Solanum (potato, tomato, aubergine or eggplant), Nicotiana (tobacco), and Petunia (petunia). With the exception of tobacco (Nicotianoideae) and petunia (Petunioideae) most of the economically-important genera are contained in the sub-family Solanoideae.
The Solanaceae family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids whose toxicity to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities. Solanaceae are known for possessing a diverse range of alkaloids. As far as humans are concerned, these alkaloids can be desirable, toxic, or both.
One of the most important groups of these compounds is called the tropane alkaloids. The term "tropane" comes from a genus in which they are found, Atropa (the belladonna genus). The belladonna genus is so named after the Greek Fate, Atropos, who cut the thread of life. This nomenclature signifies the toxicity and lethality that has long been known to be characteristic of these compounds.
Many species of Solanaceae are used as food, most commonly the fruit of the plant. These include:
i. Chili pepper
iii. Garden huckleberry
iv. Wolfberry or Goji berry
v. Ground cherry
The two most important species of this family for the global diet are the potato, Solanum tuberosum, whose carbohydrate-rich tuber has been a staple food in many times and places, and the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, widely grown for its savory fruit. Both are native to South America.