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Plant Taxonomy

Plant taxonomy is a branch of taxonomy dealing with the handling of plant organisms so that they can be named and classified. Plant taxonomy represents a method of describing specimens so that their uniqueness can be identified and thus, differentiated from other species.

Plant taxonomy is based off of a hierarchical system which originated from Linnaean taxonomy, named after Carl Linnaeus (1). This system of taxonomy has been redefined and tweaked over the years as biologists have discovered further complexity and diversity in the plant and animal world. This system represents a way of understanding the similarities and differences which exist between different species, as well as their evolutionary relationships.

The Linnaean taxonomical system from top to bottom is as follows: (top = largest group, bottom = smallest group)

  1. Kingdom
  2. Phylum
  3. Class
  4. Order
  5. Family
  6. Genus
  7. Species

All plants fall under the kingdom Plantae and then get further classified. For example, foxglove plants, which is the common named used for this genus of digitalis plants, include over 20 different species under the genus digitalis. When naming these plant species properly the genus they belong to is stated first, followed by the species name. For example, digitalis dubia and digitalis x fluva are two of the foxglove species.

Plant taxonomy represents an important method of identifying species. Often biologists will come across plants they do not recognize and will depend on previous taxonomical books and research. Furthermore, taxonomical research is important when classifying newly discovered specimens which need to be grouped with other plants which they are most similar to.



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