Plant taxonomy deals with the classification of plants according to certain set rules. The term taxonomy was coined by the Swiss botanist A. P. de Candolle in his book “Théorie élémentaire de la Botanique”. It can be defined as the branch of botany that deals with characterization, identification, classification, and nomenclature of plants based on their similarities and differences. It is the science that finds, identifies, describes, classifies, and names plants. It is one of the main branches of taxonomy.
The goals of plant taxonomy are:
- Identification: Identify the unknown species based on its characteristics and by comparing with already existing species
- Characterization: To describe all the characteristics of the newly identified species
- Classification: Placing and arranging the known species into different groups or taxa according to similarities and dissimilarities
- Nomenclature: Giving the scientific name according to the convention.
Plant taxonomy is closely allied to plant systematics, and there is no sharp boundary between the two. In practice, “Plant systematics” involves 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.
Importance of Plant Taxonomy
- It gives a detailed overview of various morphological and anatomical structures of a plant species.
- Organises all the information of plants into an orderly fashion.
- It indicates the phylogenetic relationship between species and its ancestry.
- It enables to identify any unknown species and its place in the classification by comparing with known species.
- Analysis of genetic constituents can be done on the basis of systematics.
- It is used to scientifically name any species, which helps in the uniformity of the name around the world and avoids confusion.
- It helps to understand the biodiversity present at a place.
- It helps in recording all the living species known until now.
- Taxonomy is widely used in agriculture, medicine and forestry.