why classify plants?

  1. Identify - some species are very similar; unique identification is important

  2. Summarise common characteristics - diagnostic characteristics for grouping (‘taxa’)

  3. Imply relationships - sharing of evolutionary development (genetic relationship)


A systematic hierarchical structure of botanical nomenclature: the binomial system (scientific name)

  1. Stable - governed by rules

  2. Internationally (universally) understood - same botanical names for same plants

  3. Unique and unequivocal - prevents or reduces confusion of common names

  4. Reflects classification and relationships - all members of group share common characteristics

  5. Gives clue to plant’s appearance or characteristics

Nomenclature and binomial system

Basic units of nomenclature are Family, Genus, Species.

  1. Binomial - generic name (genus - fairly similar organisms); specific epithet (species - unique identification) e.g. Lathyrus latifolius L. (L = authority)

  2. Taxonomic hierarchy

    • Kingdom: PLANTAE (plants)

      • Division: MAGNOLIOPHYTA (angiosperms - flowering plants)

        • Subclass: ROSIDAE

          • Order: FABALES

            • Family: Leguminosae (Facaceae - pea family)

              • Genus: Lathyrus

                • Species: latifolius