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Plant Taxonomy

Course CodeSGH9
Fee CodeSG
Duration (approx)20 hours
QualificationCertificate of Completion

Plant Taxonomy  (i.e. the scientific identification of plants) has been increasingly sidelined and neglected in horticulture, agriculture, botany and science courses.

This is really something that EVERYONE who works with plants should study.

It covers things colleagues have complained about being neglected in most horticulture and agriculture courses for decades. These are things that used to be in most certificates, diplomas and degrees but no longer. This is knowledge that could be lost to the industry if younger generations don't make an effort to learn it.

Knowing what we teach here will help you make a lot more sense of plant names.

This short course is a great way to become proficient in understanding the essentials in plant taxonomy.

To the ill informed, it is a low priority for gardeners, environmentalists or farmers to identify obscure parts of a plant; or place plants into a high level scientific classification such as a family or class. For anyone who understands these industries well however, it can be critical to have that knowledge.  Taxonomy trains people to observe the finer details that separate one plant cultivar from another. It provides a framework that makes the process of identifying plants systemic.

This course will help you to identify what a plant is faster and with greater accuracy than would otherwise be possible.

Leading horticulturists and botanists all over the world are all too aware of a serious decline in taxonomic skills and awareness.

Anyone who works with plants needs to understand how critical plant taxonomy is.

Without this level of taxonomic knowledge though; you risk misidentifying plants. That can mean growing a less productive species; or even worse - growing a plant with higher levels of toxins and being unaware you are doing so.

This short course that can be completed in 20 hours covers 4 lessons:

Lesson 1 INTRODUCTION - The Why and How of Plant Names

Why Name Plants?
Scientific vs. Vernacular Names
John Ray
Ranks and Language
Ranks of Classification - KPCOFGS
Latin Names
Gardener’s Ranks
International Code of Botanical Nomenclature
The Basic Ideas
a) Valid publication
b) The type method
c) Aim of the principle of priority
d) Exceptions to the principle of priority
Legitimate Naming
Recent Changes to the Code
International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
Taxonomic Name Resolution Service
International Plant Names Index
The Rise of Molecular Data
The Impact of Molecular Data

Lesson 2 NAMING THE BITS - Plant Anatomy

Describing a Plant for the First Time, or “Naming the Bits”
Botanical Characteristics of Dianthus
A Key to the Main Types of Fruits


Using Resources
Collecting and Preserving a Plant
Fresh Material
Herbarium Specimens
The Problem of Colour
The Law Relating to Plant Collecting
Describing a Plant on Paper
The Equipment You Need
DNA Bar-coding
Floral Formulae
Floral Diagrams
Making a Key
Using a Key
When all this fails, what do you do?
Botanic Gardens

Lesson 4 PLANT FAMILIES - The Family Life of Plants

What Genera are in What Family?
Major Families
Apiaceae (= Umbelliferae)
Asteraceae (= Compositae)
Brassicaceae (= Crucifereae)
Fabaceae (= Leguminosae or Papillionaceae)
Lamiaceae (= Labiatae)
Poaceae (= Graminae)
Other Significant Plant Phyla


At the end of each lesson, you will be given a short interactive test to undertake, which will provide an indication of how your learning is progressing.  Upon completing the very last lesson, you will be offered a more thorough automated test or examination. If you achieve an overall pass; in this final assessment, you will be able to obtain a "Certificate of Completion", which will have your name on it.