The history of plant systematics—the biological classification of plants —stretches from the work of ancient Greek to modern evolutionary biologists. As a field of science, plant systematics came into being only slowly, early plant lore usually being treated as part of the study of medicine. Later, classification and description was driven by natural history and natural theology. Until the advent of the theory of evolution, nearly all classification was based on the scala naturae. The professionalization of botany in the 18th and 19th century marked a shift toward more holistic classification methods, eventually based on evolutionary relationships.
The peripatetic philosopher Theophrastus (372–287 BC), as a student of Aristotle in Ancient Greece, wrote Historia Plantarum , the earliest surviving treatise on plants, where he listed the names of over 500 plant species.He did not articulate a formal classification scheme, but relied on the common groupings of folk taxonomy combined with growth form: tree shrub; undershrub; or herb.
The De Materia Medica of Dioscorides was an important early compendium of plant descriptions (over five hundred), classifying plants chiefly by their medicinal effects.
The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII sent a copy of Dioscorides' pharmacopeia to the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Rahman III who ruled Córdoba in the 9th century, and also sent a monk named Nicolas to translate the book into Arabic.It was in use from its publication in the 1st century until the 16th century, making it one of the major herbals throughout the Middle Ages. The taxonomy criteria of medieval texts is different from what is used today. Plants with similar external appearance were usually grouped under the same species name, though in modern taxonomy they are considered different.
Abū l-Khayr's botanical workis the most complete Andalusi botanical text known to modern scholars. It is noted for its detailed descriptions of plant morphology and phenology.
In the 16th century, works by Otto Brunfels, Hieronymus Bock, and Leonhart Fuchs helped to revive interest in natural history based on first-hand observation; Bock in particular included environmental and life cycle information in his descriptions. With the influx of exotic species in the Age of Exploration, the number of known species expanded rapidly, but most authors were far more interested in the medicinal properties of individual plants than an overarching classification system. Later influential Renaissance books include those of Caspar Bauhin and Andrea Cesalpino. Bauhin described over 6000 plants, which he arranged into 12 books and 72 sections based on a wide range of common characteristics. Cesalpino based his system on the structure of the organs of fructification, using the Aristotelian technique of logical division.
In the late 17th century, the most influential classification schemes were those of English botanist and natural theologian John Ray and French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. Ray, who listed over 18,000 plant species in his works, is credited with establishing the monocot/dicot division and some of his groups — mustards, mints, legumes and grasses — stand today (though under modern family names). Tournefort used an artificial system based on logical division which was widely adopted in France and elsewhere in Europe up until Linnaeus.
The book that had an enormous accelerating effect on the science of plant systematics was Species Plantarum (1753) by Linnaeus. It presented a complete list of the plant species then known to Europe,ordered for the purpose of easy identification using the number and arrangement of the male and female sexual organs of the plants. Of the groups in this book, the highest rank that continues to be used today is the genus. The consistent use of binomial nomenclature along with a complete listing of all plants provided a huge stimulus for the field.
Although meticulous, the classification of Linnaeus served merely as an identification manual; it was based on phenetics and did not regard evolutionary relationships among species.It assumed that plant species were given by God and that what remained for humans was to recognise them and use them (a Christian reformulation of the scala naturae or Great Chain of Being). Linnaeus was quite aware that the arrangement of species in the Species Plantarum was not a natural system, i.e. did not express relationships. However he did present some ideas of plant relationships elsewhere.
Significant contributions to plant classification came from de Jussieu (inspired by the work of Michel Adanson) in 1789 and the early nineteenth century saw the start of work by de Candolle, culminating in the Prodromus.
A major influence on plant systematics was the theory of evolution (Charles Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859), resulting in the aim to group plants by their phylogenetic relationships. To this was added the interest in plant anatomy, aided by the use of the light microscope and the rise of chemistry, allowing the analysis of secondary metabolites.
Currently, the strict use of epithets in botany, although regulated by international codes, is considered unpractical and outdated. The very notion of species, the fundamental classification unit, is often up to subjective intuition and thus can not be well defined. As a result, estimate of the total number of existing "species" (ranging from 2 million to 100 million) becomes a matter of preference.
While scientists have agreed for some time that a functional and objective classification system must reflect actual evolutionary processes and genetic relationships, the technological means for creating such a system did not exist until recently. In the 1990s DNA technology saw immense progress, resulting in unprecedented accumulation of DNA sequence data from various genes present in compartments of plant cells. In 1998 a ground-breaking classification of the angiosperms (the APG system) consolidated molecular phylogenetics (and especially cladistics or phylogenetic systematics) as the best available method. For the first time relatedness could be measured in real terms, namely similarity of the molecules comprising the genetic code.
Asparagales is an order of plants in modern classification systems such as the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) and the Angiosperm Phylogeny Web. The order takes its name from the type family Asparagaceae and is placed in the monocots amongst the lilioid monocots. The order has only recently been recognized in classification systems. It was first put forward by Huber in 1977 and later taken up in the Dahlgren system of 1985 and then the APG in 1998, 2003 and 2009. Before this, many of its families were assigned to the old order Liliales, a very large order containing almost all monocots with colorful tepals and lacking starch in their endosperm. DNA sequence analysis indicated that many of the taxa previously included in Liliales should actually be redistributed over three orders, Liliales, Asparagales, and Dioscoreales. The boundaries of the Asparagales and of its families have undergone a series of changes in recent years; future research may lead to further changes and ultimately greater stability. In the APG circumscription, Asparagales is the largest order of monocots with 14 families, 1,122 genera, and about 36,000 species.
In biology, taxonomy is the scientific study of naming, defining (circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared characteristics. Organisms are grouped into taxa and these groups are given a taxonomic rank; groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a more inclusive group of higher rank, thus creating a taxonomic hierarchy. The principal ranks in modern use are domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the founder of the current system of taxonomy, as he developed a ranked system known as Linnaean taxonomy for categorizing organisms and binominal nomenclature for naming organisms.
In biological classification, class is a taxonomic rank, as well as a taxonomic unit, a taxon, in that rank. Other well-known ranks in descending order of size are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, order, family, genus, and species, with class fitting between phylum and order.
Antoine Laurent de Jussieu was a French botanist, notable as the first to publish a natural classification of flowering plants; much of his system remains in use today. His classification was based on an extended unpublished work by his uncle, the botanist Bernard de Jussieu.
Fritillaria (fritillaries) is a genus of spring flowering herbaceous bulbous perennial plants in the lily family (Liliaceae). The type species, Fritillaria meleagris, was first described in Europe in 1571, while other species from the Middle East and Asia were also introduced to Europe at that time. The genus has about 130–140 species divided among eight subgenera. The flowers are usually solitary, nodding and bell-shaped with bulbs that have fleshy scales, resembling those of lilies. They are known for their large genome size and genetically are very closely related to lilies. They are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, from the Mediterranean and North Africa through Eurasia and southwest Asia to western North America. Many are endangered due to enthusiastic picking.
In biology, a taxon is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. Although neither is required, a taxon is usually known by a particular name and given a particular ranking, especially if and when it is accepted or becomes established. It is very common, however, for taxonomists to remain at odds over what belongs to a taxon and the criteria used for inclusion. If a taxon is given a formal scientific name, its use is then governed by one of the nomenclature codes specifying which scientific name is correct for a particular grouping.
Augustin Pyramusde Candolle was a Swiss botanist. René Louiche Desfontaines launched de Candolle's botanical career by recommending him at a herbarium. Within a couple of years de Candolle had established a new genus, and he went on to document hundreds of plant families and create a new natural plant classification system. Although de Candolle's main focus was botany, he also contributed to related fields such as phytogeography, agronomy, paleontology, medical botany, and economic botany.
Michel Adanson was an 18th-century French botanist and naturalist who traveled to Senegal to study flora and fauna. He proposed a "natural system" of taxonomy distinct from the binomial system forwarded by Linnaeus.
Robert Morison was a Scottish botanist and taxonomist. A forerunner of John Ray, he elucidated and developed the first systematic classification of plants.
Boraginales is an order of flowering plants in the asterid clade. It includes the Boraginaceae and a number of other families, with a total of about 125 genera and 2,700 species. Its herbs, shrubs, trees and lianas (vines) have a worldwide distribution.
Theophrastoideae is a small subfamily of flowering plants in the family Primulaceae. It was formerly recognized as a separate family Theophrastaceae. As previously circumscribed, the family consisted of eight genera and 95 species of trees or shrubs, native to tropical regions of the Americas.
Joseph Pitton de Tournefort was a French botanist, notable as the first to make a clear definition of the concept of genus for plants. Botanist Charles Plumier was his pupil and accompanied him on his voyages.
Hylotelephium telephium, known as orpine, livelong, frog's-stomach, harping Johnny, life-everlasting, live-forever, midsummer-men, Orphan John and witch's moneybags, is a succulent perennial groundcover of the family Crassulaceae native to Eurasia. The flowers are held in dense heads and can be reddish or yellowish-white. A number of cultivars, often with purplish leaves, are grown in gardens as well as hybrids between this species and the related Hylotelephium spectabile (iceplant), especially the popular 'Herbstfreude'. Occasionally garden plants may escape and naturalise as has happened in parts of North America.
The history of botany examines the human effort to understand life on Earth by tracing the historical development of the discipline of botany—that part of natural science dealing with organisms traditionally treated as plants.
The Amaryllidaceae are a family of herbaceous, mainly perennial and bulbous flowering plants in the monocot order Asparagales. The family takes its name from the genus Amaryllis and is commonly known as the amaryllis family. The leaves are usually linear, and the flowers are usually bisexual and symmetrical, arranged in umbels on the stem. The petals and sepals are undifferentiated as tepals, which may be fused at the base into a floral tube. Some also display a corona. Allyl sulfide compounds produce the characteristic odour of the onion subfamily (Allioideae).
Amaryllidoideae is a subfamily of monocot flowering plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, order Asparagales. The most recent APG classification, APG III, takes a broad view of the Amaryllidaceae, which then has three subfamilies, one of which is Amaryllidoideae, and the others are Allioideae and Agapanthoideae. The subfamily consists of about seventy genera, with over eight hundred species, and a worldwide distribution.
The taxonomy of Liliaceae has had a complex history since the first description of this flowering plant family in the mid-eighteenth century. Originally, the Liliaceae or Lily family were defined as having a "calix" (perianth) of six equal-coloured parts, six stamens, a single style, and a superior, three-chambered (trilocular) ovary turning into a capsule fruit at maturity. The taxonomic circumscription of the family Liliaceae progressively expanded until it became the largest plant family and also extremely diverse, being somewhat arbitrarily defined as all species of plants with six tepals and a superior ovary. It eventually came to encompass about 300 genera and 4,500 species, and was thus a "catch-all" and hence paraphyletic taxon. Only since the more modern taxonomic systems developed by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) and based on phylogenetic principles, has it been possible to identify the many separate taxonomic groupings within the original family and redistribute them, leaving a relatively small core as the modern family Liliaceae, with fifteen genera and 600 species.
Theophrastus's Enquiry into Plants or Historia Plantarum was, along with his mentor Aristotle's History of Animals, Pliny the Elder's Natural History and Dioscorides's De materia medica, one of the most important books of natural history written in ancient times, and like them it was influential in the Renaissance. Theophrastus looks at plant structure, reproduction and growth; the varieties of plant around the world; wood; wild and cultivated plants; and their uses. Book 9 in particular, on the medicinal uses of plants, is one of the first herbals, describing juices, gums and resins extracted from plants, and how to gather them.
Allioideae is a subfamily of monocot flowering plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, order Asparagales. It was formerly treated as a separate family, Alliaceae. The subfamily name is derived from the generic name of the type genus, Allium. It is composed of about 18 genera.
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