Botany 2: Keying is Believing

Botany 2: Keying is Believing
Jiling Lin (2017)

Questions to Ask

1.     Plant kingdom division
a.      Nonvascular spore plant (bryophyte) 
b.     Vascular spore plant (pteridophyte)
c.      Vascular seed plant (spermatophyte)
                                                    i.     Gymnosperm or angiosperm? ß
1.     Monocot / dicot? ß

1.     How many KCAG? (Calyx, Corolla, Androecium, Gynoecium)
2.     Complete/ incomplete? (does it have its KCAG)
3.     Perfect/ imperfect? (bisexual/ unisexual)
4.     Regular/ irregular? (radially/ bilaterally symmetrical)
5.     Inferior/ superior ovary?
6.     Inflorescence type?
a.      Indeterminateà spike/ raceme/ panicle; corymb; umbel; head
b.     Determinateà cyme

1.     Leaf arrangement? (opposite/ alternate/ whorled/ basal)
2.     Leaf division? (simple/ compound)
3.     Leaf shape? (ovate/ elliptic/ lanceolate/ cordate/ pinnately-lobed/ palmately-lobed/ …)
a.      Leaf tip? (acute/ obtuse…)
b.     Leaf base? (rounded/ acute/ truncate/ oblique/ cordate/ sagitate/ hastate…)
4.     Leaf veination? (arcuate/ palmate/ parallel/ pinnate/ reticulate)
5.     Leaf margin? (entire/ toothed/ incised/ lobed…)
6.     Stem? (herbaceous/ woody? Caulescent/ scapose? ...)
7.     Leaf surface? (glaucous/ glabrous/ tomentose/ glandular/ pubescent/ glochidiate…)  

Key it Out

1.     Know what you’re looking for (basic questions/ KCAG)
2.     Process of deduction
a.      What matters most
b.     What stands out
c.      Notice the details
d.     Go step by step
e.      Choose your own adventure
3.     Make mistakes
a.      Track back
b.     Learn from mistakes
c.      Change
d.     Proceed with care
4.     Cross reference
a.      During: use the glossary
b.     After: check a field guide with photos, or online
5.     Celebrate
6.     Practice (keep asking questions)

Other Possibilities
-        Start with what you know
o   Work forwards and backwards
-        Skip to the family
-        Do it with friends
o   Join your local native plant society, Sierra Club chapter, or create your own group!
o   Join an online community such as “Botany Everyday” on FB
-        Eat something wild everyday… and key it out

Other Considerations
-        Sometimes the Flora is wrong (cross reference!)
-        The plant may not be in the flora
o   Maybe it’s an older flora
o   Or the plant is a non-native cultivar or naturalized weed

Happy botanizing! 


Botany 1.5: Intro to Plant Families

Botany 1.5: Intro to Plant Families
Jiling Lin (2017)

9 common herbaceous plant families:

-        Asteraceae
-        Brassicaeae
-        Lamiaceae
-        Apiaceae
-        Fabaceae
-        Rosaceae
-        Malvaceae
-        Solanaceae
-        Ranunculaceae

4 common tree families:

-        Pinaceae
-        Fagaceae
-        Betulaceae
-        Salicaceae     
      (I would like to add photos to this one day, but this handout is meant to accompany a class with live plants. Go meet your local herbalists and botanists!) 

9 Plant Families

Asteraceae (Aster family)
Infl: head, with ray (irregular) and/ or disk flowers (regular, 5-merous), usu subtended by involucre of bracts (phyllaries)
K: absent, or with pappus/ bristles/ awns/ scale
C: 5 fused petals
A: 5 fused stamen
G: inferior
Ex: Achillea, Echinaceae, Calendula, Arnica, Arctium, Artemisia, Taraxacum, Inula, Matricaria…

Brassicaeae (Mustard family)
K: 4 sepals
C: 4 petals
A: tetradynamous (4 long, 2 short)
G: superior, with 2 united carpels
Fruit: dry pod, usu dehiscent: Silique/ silicle
Ex: Brassica (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Bokchoy, Turnip), Radish, Horseradish…

Lamiaceae (Mint family)
K: 5-lobed or cleft, regular or bilabiate. 5 united sepals
C: irregular (bilabiate/ 2-lipped); 5 united petals
A: 4 (usu didynamous)
G: superior. 2 united carpels
Lvs: opposite, aromatic
Stems: square
Fruit: capsule with 4 smooth nutlets
Ex: Mentha, Scutellaria, Lavandula, Salvia, Stachys, Leonurus, Melissa, Ocimum, Nepeta, Monarda…

Apiaceae (Carrot family)
Infl: simple/ compound umbel
K: small, scale-like, 5, or none
C: 5 petals
A: 5 stamen
G: inferior, with 2 united carpels, 2 styles. 
Stem: hollow between nodes
Lvs: pinnately compound
Fruit: indehiscent, hard schizocarp, usu oily/ aromatic
Ex: Ligusticum, Foeniculum, Angelica, Centella, Osmorhiza, Daucus, Conium, Heracleum…

Fabaceae (Pea family)
C: irregular, papilonaceous: banner, wings, keel (5 united sepals)
Lvs: pinnately compound
Fruits: dehiscent pea-like pods
Ex: Trifolium, Astragalus, Glycyrrhiza, Medicago, Prosopis, Peuraria, Baptisia, Cassia…

Rosaceae (Rose family)
K: 5 separate
C: 5 separate
A: 5 to numerous stamen
G: perigynous. Forms a hypanthium (floral cup). Numerous styles.
Lvs: serrated alternate leaves with stipules. Simple, trifoliate, palmate, or pinnately compound.
Ex: Rosa, Crataegus, Prunus, Rubus, Potentilla, Fragaria, Agrimonia, Alchemilla…

Malvaceae (Mallow family)
K: 3-5 partially united sepals
C: 5 separate petals, regular
A: numerous fused stamen, forming a column
G: superior. Several united carpals.
Lvs: simple, lobed, alternate, often palmately lobed
Ft: schizocarp (cheeses)
Ex: Malva, Hibiscus, Althaea, Theobroma, Sphaeralcea, Gossypium…

Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
K: 5 united sepals
C: 5 united regular petals
A: 5 stamen attached to petals 
G: superior, with 2 united carpels, 1 style, 1 stigma
Lvs: glandular/ sticky, alternate
Ft: berry/ capsule
Ex: Capsicum, Lycium, Solanum, Datura, Hyoscyamus, Atropa, tomato, potato, eggplant, bellpepper…

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Variable: regular/ irregular, perfect/ imperfect
K: 3-15 separate sepals, usu showy
C: usu absent
A: numerous stamen; free
G: superior, 3-numerous simple pistils, usu with hooked tips
Ex: Anemone, Coptis, Hydrastis, Actaea, Clematis, Aconitum…


4 Tree Families

Pinaceae (Pine family)
Gymnosperm, with aerodynamically matched male and female strobili
-        Pine (Pinus): 1-8 needles sheathed together at the base
-        Larch (Larix): deciduous. Needles in spirals at branch buds
-        Spruce (Picea): sharp needles. Cones hang down
-        Fir (Abies): “furry” flat needles. Cones points up
-        Doug fir (Tsuedotsuga): cones hang down, with “mouse tails” between scales
-        Hemlock (Tsuga): short, flat needles attached by petiole

Fagaceae (Beech family)
K: 4-6 sepals
C: 0
A: 4-40 stamen (on staminate fls)
G: inferior ovary. 3 (sometimes 6) united carpels, and styles
Lvs: simple, alternate, toothed/ lobed
Ft: acorn-like nut
Ex: Castanea, Quercus

Betulaceae (Birch family)
Monoecious, with catkins.
-        Staminate fls:
K: 0-4 sepals
C: 0
A: 2-20 stamen
-        Pistillate fls:
K/ C: 0
G: inferior. 2 united carpels/ styles
Lvs: simple, toothed, alternate, pinnately veined
ft: nut or winged seed
Ex: Betula, Alnus

Salicaceae (Willow family)
Dioecious, with catkins
-        Staminate fls:
A: 2+ stamen
-        Pistillate fls:
G: superior. 2-4 united carpels/ stigmas
Ft: capsule
Lvs: simple, alternate
Ex: Salix, Populus