The Magnoliidae are represented by the magnolias: tall trees that bear large, fragrant flowers with many parts, and are considered archaic (Figure 14.29d). Laurel trees produce fragrant leaves and small inconspicuous flowers. The Laurales are small trees and shrubs that grow mostly in warmer climates. Familiar plants in this group include the bay laurel, cinnamon, spice bush (Figure 14.29 a), and the avocado tree. The Nymphaeales are comprised of the water lilies, lotus (Figure 14.29 c), and similar plants. All species of the Nymphaeales thrive in freshwater biomes, and have leaves that float on the water surface or grow underwater. Water lilies are particularly prized by gardeners, and have graced ponds and pools since antiquity. The Piperales are a group of herbs, shrubs, and small trees that grow in tropical climates. They have small flowers without petals that are tightly arranged in long spikes. Many species are the source of prized fragrances or spices; for example, the berries of Pipernigrum (Figure 14.29 b) are the familiar black pepper that is used to flavor many dishes.
The (a) southern spicebush belongs to the Laurales, the same family as cinnamon and bay laurel. The fruit of (b) the Piper nigrum plant is black pepper, the main product that was traded along spice routes. Notice the small, unobtrusive clustered flowers. (c) Lotus flowers, Nelumbo nucifera, have been cultivated since antiquity for their ornamental value; the root of the lotus flower is eaten as a vegetable. The (d) red berries of a magnolia tree, characteristic of the final stage, are just starting to appear.