Botany 1: Intro to Plant Patterns

I taught Botany classes at the lovely Midwest Women's Herbal Conference again, this year. In the spirit of my mentor and hero 7song (who generously shares everything), I like to share my class notes, too. You can view them below, or download them as a pdf on Google Drive.

My Botany handout and Botany 1 notes:

Botany 1: Introduction to Plant Patterns
Jiling Lin (2017)

Class description
Welcome to the wonderful world of botany, where we uncover the elegant intricacies of patterns-based plant identification. We’ll explore basic flower and leaf anatomy, and some key family patterns. 

Class outline
1. Taxonomical nomenclature, and basic phylogeny
2. Flower anatomy
3. Leaf anatomy
4. Key family patterns (see “Family Patterns” handout)

Taxonomical Nomenclature
Domain (Eukarya- cells with nucleus)
            Kingdom (Plantae)
Division/ Phyllum (-phyta)
                                    Class (-eae, opsida) à Subclass (-ae)
                                                Order (-ales)
                                                            Family (-aceae) à Subfamily (-oideae) à Tribe (-eae)
                                                                                    Species à Subspecies à Variety à Forma

-        Protista (algae, diatoms)
-        Fungi (mushroom, yeasts, molds, mildew, rust)
-        Plantae (see below)

Plantae Kingdom Divisions

Nonvascular plants
Bryophyta: Nonvascular spore plants
-        Mosses, hornworts, liverworts

Vascular plants
Pteridophyta; Vascular spore plants
-        Clubmosses, horsetails, ferns
Spermatophyta: Vascular seed plants
Gymnospermae: Gymnosperms (naked seeds)
- Conifers, gingko, ephedra, gnetums, cycads
- Wind-pollinated unisexual flowers
Angiospermae: Angiosperms (flowering plants)
- Ovules are in the ovary. Pollen must enter the ovary to fertilize ovules.
- Monocots/ dicots (see below)

Monocot / Dicot

1 seed leaf
2 seed leaves
Parallel veination in leaves
Netted veination in leaves
Horizontal rootstalks
Usually has tap-root
Scattered vascular bundles in the stem
Vascular bundles in a ring
Floral parts mostly in 3’s
Floral parks mostly in 4’s and 5’s


Four Whorls of a Flower

KCAG (outside to inside)
Stamen (anther, filament)
Pistil (stigma, style, ovary)

Complete/ Incomplete
-        Complete flowers have all KCAG
-        Incomplete flowers don’t have all KCAG

Perfect/ Imperfect
-        Perfect flowers are bisexual (with both Androecium and Gynoecium on the same flower)
-        Imperfect flowers are unisexual (with separate Staminate and Pistillate flowers)
o   Monoecious flowers have staminate/ pistillate flowers on the same plant (one house)
o   Dioecious flowers have staminate/ pistillate flowers on separate plants (two houses)

Floral Symmetry
-        Regular (actinomorphic) flowers have radial symmetry (like wheel spokes)
-        Irregular (zygomorphic) flowers have bilateral symmetry (like a mirror)

Calyx (Sepal) and Corolla (Petal)
-        Perianth refers to both calyx and corolla
-        Tepals are calyx and corolla that are very similar (like in many Liliaceae)
-        If only Calyx or Corolla, then it’s just called Calyx
-        Polypetalous: separate petals, or Gamopetalous: united petals
-        Polysepalous: separate sepals, or Gamosepalous: united sepals

Ovary Position
-        Inferior (epigynous: ovary below calyx, corolla, stamen attachment)
-        Superior (hypogynous: ovary above calyx, corolla, stamen attachment)
-        In between (perigynous)

Flowers: Questions to Ask
1.     How many KCAG? (Calyx, Corolla, Androecium, Gynoecium)
2.     Complete/ incomplete? (does it have all its KCAG)
3.     Perfect/ imperfect? (bisexual/ unisexual)
4.     Regular/ irregular?
5.     Inferior/ superior ovary?
6.     Inflorescence type?  


-        Floret- individual fl within an infl

-        Bract- reduced lf/ lf-like structure at the base of a fl/ infl
-        Involucre- whorl of bracts subtending a fl/ infl

-        Rachis- main axis (above where infl begins)
-        Pedicel- stalk of a single fl in an infl
-        Peduncle- stalk of a solitary fl, or of the infl (below where infl begin)

-        Solitary- single fl (no infl)

-        Indeterminate/ racemose- youngest fl at end of main axis, with older fl below or to the outside of infl. Allows for indefinite elongation of rachis  
o   Spike- fl sessile along rachis
o   Raceme- fl single on pedicels, along an elongated rachis
§  Panicle- compound raceme, with 2+ fl on each branch
o   Corymb- flat-topped infl (raceme with elongated lower pedicels and shortened rachis)
§  Compound corymb
o   Umbel- flat-topped or orbicular infl. All pedicels arise from one point. No rachis.
§  Compound umbel
o   Head- dense cluster of indeterminate, sessile, or nearly sessile fl

-        Determinate/ cymose- oldest fl at end of rachis (terminal fl) blooms first, halting further elongation of the rachis (younger fls grow below it)
o   Cyme
§  Compound cyme
o   Scorpioid cyme


Leaf Structure
-        Blade- broad part of a lf
o   Apex- lf tip
o   Base- end of lf nearest to point of attachment
o   Margin- edge of lf blade
o   Midrib- central rib/ vein of lf
-        Petiole- connects lf blade to plant stem. Below blades on compound lf
-        Rachis- connects leaflets to petiole on compound lvs
-        Stipule- leaf-like appendages at the base of petiole, on some lvs

Leaf Division
Note bud at base of both simple and compound lvs:
-        Simple- one leaf per petiole
-        Compound- lf blade divided into separate leaflets
o   Palmate- leaflets arise from a common point (like fingers)
§  Simple leaflets
·       Ternate/ trifoliate- 3 leaflets
·       Palmate- more than 3 leaflets
§  Decompound leaflets- leaflets divide into secondary leaflets
·       Biternate- Lvs twice divided
·       Triternate- Lvs thrice divided
o   Pinnate- leaflets arise from opposite sides of an elongated axis
§  Simple leaflets
·       leaflets even in number
o   Tendril-pinnate- lvs end in a tendril  
o   Even- pinnate/ abruptly pinnate- lvs don’t end in a tendril
·       leaflets odd in number
o   Ternate/ trifoliate- 3 leaflets
o   Odd-pinnate/ unequally pinnate/ imparipinnate- more than 3 leaflets
§  Decompound leaflets
·       Bipinnate- Lvs twice divided
·       Tripinnate- Lvs thrice divided

Leaves: Questions to Ask
1.     Leaf arrangement? (opposite/ alternate/ whorled/ basal)
2.     Leaf division? (simple/ compound)
3.     Leaf shape? (linear/ lanceolate/ ovate/ oblanceolate/ obovate/ oblong/ oval/ elliptic/ spatulate/ deltoid/ orbicular/ falcate/ peltate/ reniform/ cordate/ sagitate/ hastate...)
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…)


-        Botany in a Day by T. Elpel
-        Plant Identification Terminology by Harris/ Harris
-        How to Identify Plants by H.D. Harrington

-        www.BotanyEveryday.com with M. Williams (free/ by-donation class and resources)
-        http://www.bonap.org (North American Vascular Flora)
-        https://linjiling.blogspot.com/p/links.html (scroll down to the “Botany” section in my blog’s Resources page for further links!)