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Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plant taxonomy is the science that finds, describes, classifies, identifies, and names plants. It thus is one of the main branches of taxonomy.

Plant taxonomy is closely allied to plant systematics, and there is no sharp boundary between the two. In practice, "plant systematics" is involved with relationships between plants and their evolution, especially at the higher levels, whereas "plant taxonomy" deals with the actual handling of plant specimens. The precise relationship between taxonomy and systematics, however, has changed along with the goals and methods employed.

Plant taxonomy is well known for being turbulent, and traditionally there is no really close agreement on circumscription and placement of taxa. See the list of systems of plant taxonomy.

Identification and classification

Two goals of plant taxonomy are the identification and classification of plants. The distinction between these two goals is important and often overlooked.

Plant identification is the determination of the identity of an unknown plant by comparison with previously collected specimens or with the aid of books or identification manuals. The process of identification connects the specimen with a published name. Once a plant specimen has been identified, its name and properties are known.

Plant classification is the placing of known plants into groups or categories to show some relationship. Scientific classification follows a system of rules that standardizes the results, and groups successive categories into a hierarchy. For example, the family to which the lilies belong is classified as follows:

The classification of plants results in an organized system for the naming and cataloging of future specimens, and ideally reflects scientific ideas about plant inter-relationships.

Classification systems

See also

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