Welcome to Botany 113
Plant identification and classification

Dr Lisa Carlson


What is the name of this course?

•Plant identification and classification

•Formerly Systematic Botany

•Same course, same content

•Friendlier name?

•The terms systematics, classification and taxonomy are closely related

•It’s about grouping and organizing different kinds of plants to help us know them better

•In this course, we’ll focus on plants native to western Washington


What is taxonomy?

•The science of naming, describing, and classifying species or groups of species.


How do we do this?




Cataloging: When a new plant is discovered…


–must have a system for naming, called nomenclature

–botanical nomenclature discussed later this week


–must use a common language

–we will learn vocabulary for describing characteristics of plants


–let others know about it

–publish finding in scientific journal

–collect known species in a “flora”


•Nobody can memorize and recognize all known plant species

•Taxonomists learn to:

–recognize major groups

–use keys to identify unfamiliar species


•We will focus on these objectives

–learn to recognize plant families common in this area

–memorize some species

–learn to identify others using keys and field guides


•The grouping of species - ultimately on the basis of evolutionary relationships.

•Species = the basic unit of biological classification

•Taxonomy = The science of naming, describing, and classifying species or groups of species.

•Groups of species collectively termed “taxa”


•We won’t really do any classifying of plants, but learn to use the established system of classification.


Who should study plant taxonomy?

•Career as a plant taxonomist

•discovering new plants

•re-classifying known plants based on new evidence

•DNA and molecular analyses brings some major changes

•Other careers using taxonomy

•field biology, geneticist, forestry, agriculture, horticulture…

•Amateur botanist or naturalist

•for those who like to know the names of plants they see