Plant Names and Classifications

Are you like me and didn’t know that common plant names are not the best way of identifying plants because a lot of the common names get confused or could overlap with others? I mean there are trees that are called oak trees that are not in the same group. It’s just a bunch of craziness and I just want to make it clear: up until this point I was entirely ignorant. I’m cool with it.

Now there is a science to plant classification and in that science there are two categories that we should be aware of and that is the plant taxonomy and plant systematic systems. We used to go by common names but it often became confusing  for a lot of people. Today we classify all plants based on their genetic and evolutionary characteristics, this means that the plants are grouped based on who their common ancestors are.

In horticulture they are primarily concerned with the last three levels of classification: Species, Genus and Family.

The species is the most basic level of classification and below this there can be many subspecies. These plants are usually the most closely related to one another and they can interbreed freely.

The Genus is a group of related species.

The Family is the general group of Genus who are all related by a common ancestor.

There are two important flowering plant families that my professor made sure that we covered. Frankly, I’ve already learned more than what I knew before and I am pleased, but we’re only part of the way through so I’ll continue to let you know what I know or I am learning.

First is the dicot family, which is a flowering family with two cotelydons (embrodic leaves). Just to let you know those cotelydons are inside and this is the largest of the two families. There are over 200,000 types and they are everywhere. They are roses, myrtle trees and so many more.

The second flowering family is the Monocot. They are grass like flowering plants that only have one cotelydon per seed. In agriculture the majority of biomass is created through monocots. You might find a monocot as wheat, rice, bamboo, sugar cane, forage grasses and many others. This family includes many bulb flowers like daffodils, lilies, and iris. They are not simply flowers and grasses but also tumeric, garlic, and asparagus.

Both are angiosperms and very popular. I really enjoy these classes and can’t wait to learn more. How many more things am I going to learn? Who knows but I can’t wait.

Although this information may not be useful right away I am certain being able to identify plant families will be useful in the future. These pictures are by a wonderful lady named Vivian Morris.

Plant names are identified not my their family but by the genus and species. Common names change by region and can be confusing because a rose is a rose and can be any different species of rose if you are looking for a specific type. Although common names can be misleading botanical names are not. The Botanic name is a Latin name accepted world wide.

For example: Magnolia alba or Ligustrum album.

Until next time…

Arthopods and Insects

First, since we know that insects are inside the athropod phylum. Also, when we think of insects we’re bunching a lot of different species into the anthropod phylum. So first let’s determine what an anthropod actually is…

  • They have jointed legs, and when he says that I feel like he means more than one joint but I don’t know if that bit has truth. They do however, have jointed legs in common. All anthropods.
  • They have segmented, and usually cylindrical bodies. It shorts all of their vital organs and makes sense.
  • They also have bilateral symmetry. That just means their body- if cut in half- could be divided into equal halves. I thought that was pretty cool.
  • They have an exoskeleton made with chitin- which is that sugar shield we talked about last time.
  • They have a ventral nerve cord and a dorsal brain. Now, I know what you’re thinking: dolphins. But no, it has nothing to do with dolphins. Ventral is situated on the lower part of the body and the dorsal is on the upper part of the body. I didn’t know and now I do. The nerve cord is downstairs and the brain is on the top.
This is pretty cool. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of bugs yet but I am working on that. So here are some pictures from my intro to horticulture class

When we talk about insects we think of a general word like bugs, which turns out is kind of specific as well. I should inform you that arthropods have five classes. If you look online it’ll say four but that is because they push centipedes and milipedes together.

Anyway they are…

  • Arachnida- these are spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. (I bet you didn’t know that ticks were arachnids because I didn’t)
  • Crustacea- lobsters, pill bugs or sow bugs, decapods and crayfish (crawdads).
  • Chilopoda- centipedes
  • Diplopoda- millipedes
  • Hexapoda- insecta or insects
We have peas. You should know that we have prematurely started them and are about to repot them into individual containers. Pretty fun stuff.

So, to help myself refresh I have to remember:

  • Kingdom- all life is separated into six kingdoms: animals, plants, fungi, protists, archaea and bacteria
  • Phyla- anthropods which branches from the animal kingdom
  • Class- how the phylum is divided narrowing down specific types of that phyla. Each class can have as many different species as necessary. In the instance of anthropods we have our five classes: Crustacea, chilopoda, diplopoda, arachnid, and hexapoda.
  • Order- further narrowing it down but isn’t as mentioned
  • Family- narrowing it down even further and isn’t as mentioned
  • Genus- the first word in their scientific name.
  • Species- the specific thing. For example homo sapien. Homo is the genus and sapien is the species. Sapien is the most specific place and the narrowed search.

This is all called Taxonomy and is identifying living things and shoving them into proper categories with similar creatures- both living and extinct- and then given a scientific name. Often times common names are misleading and you think because something is called a California Pepper it is from California but it is actually from Peru. Knowing their scientific name really helps narrow down the search to get more information.

Well one half of this tray seems to be doing well. I wish they were doing better. More on these will be announced later

They’re calling it binomial nomenclature. That’s what they are calling the taxonomy system we use. Seems a bit unnecessarily long but I am sure they had their reasons. Also, not everyone can agree on the taxonomy, some things seem up for debate.

Until next time, thank you Dr. Drake for the information. Hopefully I’ll be able to retain it for the test next week.

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