Plant Taxonomy


Learn to systematically examine a plant’s distinguishing characteristics, then determine its scientific classification based upon those observations.

Course CodeBHT344
Fee CodeS4
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


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Learn to systematically examine a plant’s distinguishing characteristics

- then determine its scientific classification based upon those observations.

Accurate plant identification is more than just a means of avoiding poisonous plants. It is a skill which should be an essential requirement for anyone working with plants and especially in horticulture. Taxonomy is the term used to describe the practice and science of naming and classifying any organisms, and in our case plants. It relies on accurate descriptions and rules of nomenclature to facilitate identification. To attempt to select, grow, and use plants in any context without taxonomic skill is at best foolhardy, and at worst it can be outright dangerous.

There are also economic reasons for being able to identify plants. The development of new plant cultivars can be time-consuming and costly, but it is very important to commercial horticulture in order to improve continually the cultivars available in terms of productivity and quality. Anyone who devotes significant resources to developing a new cultivar needs to be able to establish and prove their commercial rights to that plant in order to obtain fair and profitable gain from their investment. Systems for establishing such rights exist in most developed countries.

 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Taxonomy
  2. Describing Plant Parts
  3. Recording & Analysing Plant Descriptions
  4. Taxonomic Techniques
  5. Primitive Plants
  6. Seed Plants
  7. Phylogeny of Land Plants
  8. Monocotyledons
  9. Dicotyledons (Part I)
  10. Dicotyledons (Part 2)

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Explain how plants are classified, including both benefits of and contradictions within the scientific system as followed by horticulturists and botanical scientists across different parts of the world
  • Examine and describe parts of a plant, both sexual and asexual, at various stages of the plant’s life cycle.
  • Process descriptive information about a plant using taxonomic techniques that involve processing that data to create a better understanding and/or record of that information.
  • Explain a variety of tools used in taxonomic work.
  • Explain the taxonomy of land plants that do not produce seeds.
  • Explain taxonomy of a range of significant, seed producing plants, including gymnosperms.
  • Explain the relationship between different types of plants (i.e. phylogeny), and how molecular information impacts on this in taxonomic considerations.
  • Differentiate between at least 10 different families of monocotyledon plants, through inspection and identification of a range of commonly shared characteristics within that family.
  • Differentiate between at least 10 different families of dicotyledon plants which predominantly contain lower growing soft wooded plants or herbs; through inspection and identification of a range of commonly shared characteristics within that family.
  • Differentiate between at least 10 different families of dicotyledon plants which predominantly contain woody trees and shrubs; through inspection and identification of a range of commonly shared characteristics within that family.

There is a system to identifying plants

This course shows you that system; and makes plant identification so much easier.

Botanists, horticulturists, and other plant experts have used a variety of methods to record and analyse information, specific to plants. Some methods such as botanical illustration or  collecting and preserving specimens have been used for hundreds of years, and others such as digital photography are much more recent developments.

Knowing these techniques, and the relative value of each, is to know and better use the tools of a taxonomist.

THIS IS A SUBJECT THAT EVERYONE WHO WORKS WITH PLANTS SHOULD MASTER



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