Asterales /æstəˈreɪliːz/ is an order of dicotyledonous flowering plants that includes the large family Asteraceae (or Compositae) known for composite flowers made of florets, and ten families related to the Asteraceae. The order is a cosmopolite (plants found throughout most of the world including desert and frigid zones), and includes mostly herbaceous species, although a small number of trees (such as the giant Lobelia and the giant Senecio) and shrubs are also present. Asterales are organisms that seem to have evolved from one common ancestor. Asterales share characteristics on morphological and biochemical levels. Synapomorphies (a character that is shared by two or more groups through evolutionary development) include the presence in the plants of oligosaccharide inulin, a nutrient storage molecule used instead of starch; and unique stamen morphology. The stamens are usually found around the style, either aggregated densely or fused into a tube, probably an adaptation in association with the plunger (brush; or secondary) pollination that is common among the families of the order, wherein pollen is collected and stored on the length of the pistil.
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