Welcome to the (Plant) Family

Did you know that Chocolate, Cotton, Okra and Hibiscus are all related?!

Plants are classified by their reproductive structures, so plants in the same family have flowers (and other reproductive parts) that look alike, but otherwise, they are free to be their unique (and delicious!) selves.



Plant Blindness

The more I draw botanicals, the more I learn about plants. The more I learn about plants, the more I realize how little I knew about them! Humans suffer from “plant blindness,” a term coined by a pair of US botanists and biology educators (Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee) in 1998, which means “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment” (Source). 

This may sound harmless, but plant blindness can have some catastrophic consequences. When we under-appreciate plants, we lose interest in plant conservation, which is vital to both environmental and human health (Source). 



The good news is that plant blindness is neither universal nor inevitable. “Although our human brains may be wired for plant blindness, we can overcome it with greater awareness,” Schussler says (Source). 

My goal with this series is to deepen people’s awareness of plants and gain an understanding of plant details to help combat “Plant Blindness.” An appreciation for biodiversity is an important part of our wellbeing. May we all delight in nature’s fascinating architecture and colors, appreciate our environment, and how precious it is to protect.

To learn more about identifying plant families (including how to interpret a plant’s Latin name), check out Lesson 8 in The Practice of Botanical Drawing.



Plant Family Portraits

As I learned more about each plant family, my newest venture became clear – a series of larger paintings (that I am offering as fine art prints) showcasing the similarities and differences between plants in the same families. I included as many species and life cycle stages as I could fit on the page to best illustrate where their similarities begin and end.

These prints are excited to hang with your family! They are available on either acid-free watercolor paper or canvas in three sizes (11″x15″ / 17″x22″ / 24″x32″). Buy Plant Family Portrait Prints here.

Scroll through this post to see each plant family portrait along with its lists of shared family traits and plants included in the painting. (To learn more about a specific family and journey through my discoveries, click on the name below to jump to that section.)


To date (Oct. 2023), I have completed 9 Plant Family Portraits:

1. Onion Family (Alliaceae, sub family of Liliaceae)
2. Nightshade Family (Solanaceae)
3. Citrus Family (Rutaceae)
4. Coffee Family (Rubiaceae)
5. Tulip Family (Tulipa, sub family of Liliacea)
6. Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)
7. Mushrooms of New York April thru July 2023 (Fungi Kingdom)
8. Rose Family (Rosaceae)
9. Magnolia Family (Magnoliaceae)


Paintings almost completed:

10. Cashew Family (Anacardiaceae)
11. Mushrooms of New York July thru October 2023 (Fungi Kingdom)

I plan to complete 12-24 of these paintings and exhibit them side-by-side. Individually, we can see the similarities and differences between plants in the same family. Together, we can see how the families compare to each other. What do all plants have in common? What do we as humans share across our various families?


How do I choose which families to include?

I have picked many of the common and most useful plants to humans as a starting point. Most are plants we eat, but some families are about the beauty we get from them.


Criteria for this series of Plant Family Portraits

1. Plants in a painting must be part of the same family or sub family.
     I am also including the Fungi Kingdom, but those paintings are separated by season, not by family.

2. Use real live plants for reference.
     I can use photos to complete a painting if I don’t still have access to the live plant.

3. All subjects are painted on one full page, 22 inches wide by 30 inches high.
     The composition and interaction can be determined by what feels right for each family.
The paintings are NOT put together from various drawings and assembled in Photoshop.

4. Text is included for subject identification.
     I can include each plant’s common and scientific name, as well as dates, locations, tastes, etc.

5. Color dabs, test samples, and notes in the margins are part of the painting.
     The process is part of the fun!

Onion Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


1. Onion Family (Alliaceae, sub family of Liliaceae)

Plants in the Onion Family share these traits:

     Produced on scapes
     6 tepals produced in 2 whorls
     6 stamens
Bulbs reform annually from the base of the old bulb (most are perennials)

Plants depicted in the Onion Plant Family Portrait:

Shallot (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) (Conservor)
Spring Onion (Allium cepa) (Forum)
Onion (Allium cepa) (Patterson)
Red Onion (Allium cepa) (Red Wing)
Field Garlic (Allium deraceum) (Onion Grass)
Leek (Allium porrum) (King Richard)
Garlic (Allium sativum) (German White)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) (Wild Leek)

Learn more about the Onion Family

Nightshade Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


2. Nightshade Family (Solanaceae)

Plants in the Nightshade Family share these traits:

     5 stamen
     5 united sepals
     5 united petals
     Alternately arranged on stem
     Usually feature plant hairs and are sometimes armed with prickles
     Ovary with 2 chambers

Plants depicted in the Nightshade Plant Family Portrait:

Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia arborea)
Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Thorn Apple – Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium)
Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
Hopi Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
Petunia – Alderman Blue (Petunia nana compacta)
Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica)
Dwarf Tamarillo (Solanum abutiloides)
Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
     Sun Gold
     Speckled Roman
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Orient Express
Fairy Tale
Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
French Fingerling
All Blue

Learn more about the Nightshade Family

Citrus Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


3. Citrus Family (Rutaceae)

Plants in the Citrus Family share these traits:

Glossy and oval-shaped
     5 white petals
     Numerous stamen
     Hesperidium – flesh is divided into segments packed with tiny juice-filled vesicles
     Covered with a moderately thick leathery peel/rind studded with fragrant oil glands

Plants depicted in the Citrus Plant Family Portrait:

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
Finger Lime (Citrus australasica)
Kumquat (Citrus japonica)
Wampi (Clausena lansium)
Zebra Lemon (Citrus limon variegata)
Buddha’s Hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)
Meyer Lemon (Citrus × meyeri)
Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi)
Tangelo (Citrus reticulata x paradisi)
Tangerine (Citrus tangerina)
Mock Orange (Murraya paniculata)
Hardy Sour Orange (Poncirus trifoliata)

Learn more about the Citrus Family

Coffee Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


4. Coffee Family (Rubiaceae)

Plants in the Coffee Family share these traits:

     Elliptical and waxy
     Oppositely arranged along the stem
     Often feature prominent venation
Fruit (known as “coffee cherry”)
     1 or 2 seeded drupe

Plants depicted in the Coffee Plant Family Portrait:

Catunaregam Spinosa (Mountain Pomegranate)
Coffea Arabica (Arabic Coffee)
Gardenia Cornuta (Horned Gardenia)
Gardenia Latifolia (Indian Boxwood)
Gardenia Taitensis (Tahitian Gardenia)
Morinda Citrifolia (Noni)
Morinda Latibractea
Mussaenda Raiateensis (Pacific Mussaenda)
Rosenbergiodendron Formosum (Blackberry Jam Fruit)
Portlandia Grandiflora (Bell Flower)
Pseudomussaenda Flava (Dwarf Mussaenda)

Learn more about the Coffee Family

Tulip Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


5. Tulip Family (Tulipa, sub family of Liliacea)

Plants in the Tulip Family share these traits:

     2-3 thick bluish green leaves at the base of the plant
     3 petals and 3 sepals
     6 stamens
     3-lobed ovary terminated by a sessile 3-lobed stigma

Plants depicted in the Tulip Plant Family Portrait:

Species Tulip – Peppermint Stick
Tulip – Apricot Parrot
Tulip – Black Parrot
Tulip – Flaming Parrot
Tulip – Giant Orange Sunrise
Tulip – Pretty Princess
Tulip – Rem’s Favourite

Learn more about the Tulip Family


Mustard Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


6. Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

Plants in the Mustard Family share these traits:

     4 petals and 4 sepals
     6 stamens (4 tall and 2 short)
     2-chambered ovary
Seeds are produced in dry podlike fruits with a partition between the halves

Plants depicted in the Mustard Plant Family Portrait:

Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard)
Armoracia rusticana (Horseradish)
Brassica oleracea
     Romanesco Cauliflower
     Purple Cauliflower
     Red Cabbage
     Rainbow Lacinato Kale
     Brussel Sprouts
Brassica napus (Rutabaga)
Brassica rapa (Field Mustard)
Eruca sativa (Arugula)
Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)
Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus
     Red Radish
     Watermelon Radish
     Daikon Radish

Learn more about the Mustard Family


Mushrooms of New York April – August 2023 by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


7. Mushrooms of New York April – August 2023 (Fungi Kingdom)

Luke Sarrantonio (a brilliant, local fungi education, foraging, and cultivation consultant) has been guiding me to the best secret mushroom hideouts and teaching me about how mushrooms grow and develop once they are above ground. I ran out of space on my first painting in July, so I started a second painting to showcase the mushrooms in New York from August – November. (Find Luke on Instagram @mycophilicorganism)

Fungi depicted in this Family Portrait:

American Blusher (Amanita flavorubens)
Yellow Patch Amanita (Amanita flavoconia)
Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera)
American Caesar (Amanita jacksonii)
Gemmed Amanita (Amanita gemmata)
Red-Mouth Bolete (Boletus subluridelius)
Golden Chanterell (Cantharellus flavus)
Dryad’s Saddle (Ceriporus squamosus)
Bird’s Nest (Crucibulum laeve)
Bog Bell (Galerina paludosa)
Rubber Cup (Galiella rufa)
Ghost Amanita (Hypomyces hyalinus)
Milk Caps (Lactifluus hygrophoroides)
Pink Fringed Fairy Cup (Microstoma floccosum)
Swamp Beacon (Mitrula elegans)
Yellow Morel (Morchella americana)
Hexagonal Polypore (Neofavolus alveolaris)
Smoked Oysterling (Resupinatus applicatus)
Purple-bloom Russula (Russula mariae)
Stalked Scarlett Cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis)
Old Man of the Woods (Strobilomyces strobilaceus)
Wine Cap (Stropharia rugoso-annulata)
Bitter Bolete (Tylopilus felleus)
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha)

Learn more about Fungi


Rose Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


8. Rose Family (Rosaceae)

Plants in the Rose Family share these traits:

     Separate petals in multiples of five
     Five sepals
     Numerous distinctive stamen
     Often fused pistils
     Smelling delicious!
Alternately arranged on stem
     Oval in shape
     Serrated edges
     Sometimes prickles on the stem
     Often edible (and delicious!)

Plants depicted in the Rose Plant Family Portrait:

Quince (Cydonia oblonga)
Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
Apple (Malus domestica)
Cherry (Prunus avium)
Plum (Prunus domestica)
Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Peach (Prunus persica)
Pear (Pyrus communis)
Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina)
Hybrid Tea Roses (Rosa x hybrida)
Queen Elizabeth – Grandiflora Rose
Julia Child – Floribunda Rose
Miracle on the Hudson
Saltspray Rose (Rosa rugosa)
Blackberry (Rubus alleghenienses)
Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Learn more about the Rose Family


Magnolia Plant Family Portrait by Wendy Hollender (Buy it here)


9. Magnolia Family (Magnoliaceae)

Plants in the Magnolia Family share these traits:

     Petals and sepals look alike
     3 sepals
     6 petals or more
     Many stamens spirally arranged around a cone like center with many pistils
     Alternate simple leaves
     Seed Cones have seeds suspended from threads

Plants depicted in the Magnolia Plant Family Portrait:

Loebner’s Magnolia – Magnolia x loebneri
Star Magnolia – Magnolia stellata
Saucer Magnolia – Magnolia x soulangeana
Pastel Sunset Magnolia – Magnolia ‘Pastel Sunset’
Genie Magnolia – Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Genie’
‘Yellow Sun Magnolia’- Magnolia ‘Yellow Sun’
Siebold’s Magnolia – Magnolia sieboldii
Sweetbay Magnolia – Magnolia virginiana
Southern Magnolia – Magnolia grandiflora
Tulip Tree – Liriodendron tulipifera

Learn more about the Magnolia Family


Click Here to Purchase Plant Family Portraits

Hang your prints without the hassle! Click here for our Effortless Wooden Frames.



To see more about my journey through these plant family discoveries, click on a name below.

1. Onion Family (Alliaceae, sub family of Liliaceae)
2. Nightshade Family (Solanaceae)
3. Citrus Family (Rutaceae)
4. Coffee Family (Rubiaceae)
5. Tulip Family (Tulipa, sub family of Liliacea)
6. Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)
7. Mushrooms of New York April thru July 2023 (Fungi Kingdom)
8. Rose Family (Rosaceae)
9. Magnolia Family (Magnoliaceae)

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