Having a good understanding of crop family groups will help you to successfully grow a variety of vegetables. This is because crops in the same family have similar growth needs, share pests and disease as well as have similar soil and nutrient requirements. A base knowledge of vegetable families will aid in your attempts to prevent pests and diseases from attacking nearby plants or surviving over the winter, and will help you plan where to plant certain varieties each year using a technique called crop rotation.
The following is a slideshow with photos for each of the most common vegetable families and a list of their edible family members. Both botanical and common family names are included. You can control the speed of the slideshow by clicking on the black square once and then clicking the right or left arrows.
- Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family) – beets, spinach and Swiss chard.
- Compositae/Asteraceae (Aster, Composite or Sunflower Family) – chicory, dandelion, endive, globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, marigold, salsify, and sunflower.
- Cruciferae/ Brassicaceae (Cabbage or Mustard Family, cole crops) -broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, cress, horse-radish, kale, kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga, and turnip.
- Cucurbitaceae (Gourd or Squash Family, vine crops) – cantaloupe, cucumber, gourds, melons, pumpkin, summer squash, watermelon, and winter squash.
- Fabaceae (Pea or Legume Family) – beans and peas of all kinds and clover.
- Liliaceae (Lily or Onion Family) – chives, garlic, leek, onion, and shallots.
- Solanaceae (Nightshade Family) – eggplant, pepper, potato, and tomato.
- Umbelliferae/ Apiaceae (Parsley or Carrot Family) – carrot, celeriac, celery, cilantro/coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and parsnip.
Crops in the same family tend to have similar growth needs, such as soil and air temperature. Some plants grow better in cooler temperatures while other plants do better in warm environments.