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CLASSIFYING AND

NAMING PLANTS
Unit.

Taxonomy and Classification

Problem Area.

Plant Classification

Student Learning Objectives.

Instruction in this lesson should result in stu-

dents achieving the following objectives:

Discuss the plant taxonomy.

Explain plant nomenclature.

Describe how plants are classified by life cycle.

List of Resources.

The following resource may be useful in teaching this lesson:

E-unit(s) corresponding to this lesson plan. CAERT, Inc. http://www.mycaert.com.


Biondo, Ronald J., Michael G. White, and Eric B. Reutter. Biological Science and Agriculture. Danville, IL: Professional Educators Publications, Inc. (PEP), 2006.

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List of Equipment, Tools, Supplies, and Facilities


Writing surface
Overhead projector
Transparencies from attached masters
Copies of student lab sheet
Technical Supplement from attached masters

Terms.
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The following terms are presented in this lesson (shown in bold italics):

Annuals
Biennials
Bolts
Carl von Linne
Common name
Cultivar
Dichotomous key
Genus
Kingdom
Morphology
Nomenclature
Perennials
Scientific name
Species
Summer annual
Taxonomy
Variety
Winter annual

Interest Approach.

Use an interest approach that will prepare students for the lesson. Teachers often develop approaches for their unique class and student situations. A possible
approach is included here.
Bring samples of two common plants, such as corn and Kentucky bluegrass, into the
classroom. Samples consisting of entire plants are best. Ask students to name the
plants. Once name agreement has been reached, ask students to describe how the
two specimens are alike and different. They are alike because both are in the grass
family and both are monocotyledons. They are different in some ways including size,
and fruit. Indicate that scientists use the similarities and differences observed in specimens to classify and name plants.

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SUMMARY OF CONTENT AND


TEACHING STRATEGIES
Objective 1:

Discuss the plant taxonomy.

Anticipated Problem: What is plant taxonomy?


I. The branch of biology that deals with identifying and naming organisms is taxonomy.
A. Taxonomy is a way of taking inventory of the earths living resources. It helps scientists
with their study of biology by giving order to the millions of species of life. Taxonomy
allows scientists to communicate and share knowledge about particular organisms. Taxonomy is also used to demonstrate the diversity of organisms, how they are related, and
how they have evolved.
B. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is recorded to have worked with taxonomy. In the
1700s Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) of Sweden set out a classification system for minerals,
plants, and animals. He identified two kingdoms for living organisms, Plantae and
Animalia. In 1969, Robert Whittaker proposed five kingdoms. They are Prokaryotae
(single-celled bacteria, blue green algae), Protista (protozoa, algae, water molds, and
slime molds), Fungi (molds and yeasts), Plantae, and Animalia. Other systems of classification of organisms have been proposed.
1. Kingdom ProkaryotaeSingle-celled microscopic organisms lacking membranebound nuclei and other membrane-bound organelles; most are decomposers.
2. Kingdom ProtistaSingle-celled or simple multi-celled organisms; usually
aquatic; all algae except cynobacteria; also slime molds and water molds.
3. Kingdom FungiOrganisms that lack plastids and photosynthetic pigments;
absorb nutrients from living or dead organisms; body composed of threadlike
hyphae, most are decomposers.
4. Kingdom PlantaeMulticellular photosynthetic organisms with distinct developmental stages; cell walls made of cellulose; most are autotrophs or producers.
5. Kingdom AnimaliaMulticellular organisms with advance tissue differentiation
and complex organ systems; able to move, respond quickly to stimuli; have a nervous system to coordinate responses; almost the only heterotrophs or consumers on
earth.
C. Taxonomic classification is considered hierarchical. That is, organisms are placed in an
order or rank. Hierarchical taxonomy works from the top down or from the bottom up.
At the top is the kingdom. The major taxonomic groups following kingdom are division
(phylum), class, order, family, genus, and species. The number of plants in each rank
lessens as one moves from kingdom to species. A mnemonic phrase that can be used to
recall the taxonomic groups is King Philip cried, Oh, for goodness sake.

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1. Hierarchical classification is based on the degree to which organisms are related.


Classification is based largely on the morphology of the organism. Morphology is the
study of the internal and external appearance of an organism. In the case of plants,
the structure of flowers and fruit and to some extent leaves, buds, roots, and stems
are considered.
2. The species is the most specific stage in the taxonomic hierarchy. Members of a species can be bred and produce offspring similar to their parents. A species is composed
of organisms with characteristics that distinguish them from other groups in a
genus. A species can pass distinct characteristics from one generation to the next.
Closely related organisms comprised of one or more species are grouped together in
a genus. Plants with the same genus are more similar to one another than with plants
of other genera. Genuses that share similarities are grouped in a family.
D. Taxonomic keys are useful in separating dissimilar organisms for the purpose of identification. They are based on plant structures. One such key, a dichotomous key, is a written set of choices that leads to the name of a plant.
Begin instruction with an interest approach. State the problem area title and the
learning objectives. Have the students take notes while reading select portions of
Chapter 5 in Biological Science and Agriculture. Discuss the material covered with
the support of TMA found in this lesson. During the discussion give examples using
plants from the local area.

Objective 2:

Explain plant nomenclature.

Anticipated Problem: What is plant nomenclature?


II. Nomenclature is the naming of organisms.
A. Agricultural plants are referred to by common name in everyday talk. Plants often have
more than one common name. An example is corn or maize. Sometimes common
names create confusion.
B. Perhaps Carl von Linnes greatest contribution to science is the binomial system of
nomenclature. All plants today are given a unique scientific name in addition to whatever common names they might have because of Linnes work.
1. A scientific name is a Latinized binomial name. A binomial name consists of two
names. The first of the two names is the genus, and the other is the specific epithet
or species. The generic name is written with a capital letter and underlined or italicized. The specific epithet is written in lower case and underlined or italicized.
2. The binomial system of naming plants reduces confusion. No two organisms have
the same scientific name. For instance, corn may be known by many different common names, but it is clearly identified by its Latin name, Zea mays. The advantage to
the binomial system is it is recognized and used by scientists around the world.
3. Sometimes cultivated plants within a species show a significant difference from
other plants in the species. These plants are termed varieties. The difference is
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inherited from the previous generation through sexual reproduction. The variety is
written in lower case, underlined or italicized, and follows the specific epithet. A
sweet variety of corn named rugosa is written as follows: Zea mays var. rugosa or Zea
mays rugosa.
4. Another group important to the agriculture industry is cultivar. Cultivars have distinguishing characteristics from the other plants in the species, but do not transfer
those characteristics to their offspring through sexual reproduction. An example of a
corn cultivar is Illini Xtra-Sweet. Its name is written in this manner, Zea mays var.
rugosa Illini Xtra-Sweet. If Illini Xtra Sweet is allowed to cross pollinate, the plants
from the resulting seed will not display the same traits as Illini Xtra Sweet. Cultivars
are propagated by selective hybridization or asexual means.
Lead a discussion of the information covered. Ask probing questions to determine
student mastery of the material. Use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation to
highlight key points. Ask students to give examples of why scientific names are used.
Help them to see that the common names used in local areas or regions may create
confusion in communication about plants. No such confusion exists when scientific
names are used. Invite an agricultural scientist or botanist to serve as a resource person in class and discuss the importance of scientific names. Use TMB to illustrate this
objective.

Objective 3:

Describe how plants are classified by life cycle.

Anticipated Problem: How are plants classified by life cycle?


III. Plants are often classified by their life cycles. A life cycle is defined as the time required for a
seed to germinate, the seedling to grow vegetatively, flower, and produce viable seed. Three
categories of life cycles are annuals, biennials, and perennials.
A. Plants that complete their life cycle within one year or one growing season are called
annuals. Seeds of annuals germinate, produce leaves and roots, flower, produce seed,
and then die, all in less than a year.
1. Many of our crops and garden plants are annuals. Corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, potatoes, and tomatoes are examples of annual food crops. Petunias, impatiens, marigolds, and zinnias are examples of garden annuals. Many plants that are considered
weeds, such as ragweed, pigweed, lambsquarter, and crabgrass, are annuals, too. All
of these plants are considered summer annuals.
2. Another type of annual is the winter annual. The seed of winter annuals germinate
in the fall. The immature plant overwinters as a compact rosette. Once the plant has
received a sufficient period of cold treatment, it bolts, which means that the stem
rapidly elongates. Flowers then develop, seeds are set, and the plant dies. Winter
wheat is a winter annual.
B. Biennials are plants that normally require two growing seasons to produce flowers and
seed before dying. In the first growing season biennials grow vegetatively. In the fall,
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they go dormant and rest until the following spring. During the winter months they
receive a required cold treatment. Growth is resumed in the spring of the second season. The plants bolt, flower, produce seed, and die. This group of plants is fewer in
number than the other two groups. Some examples include hollyhock, Sweet William,
parsley, beets, and carrots.
C. A perennial is a plant that has a life cycle of more than two growing seasons. It may take
perennial plants a few years to many years to reach reproductive maturity. They may be
woody like trees and shrubs or herbaceous.
1. The shoots of herbaceous perennials typically die back to the ground each winter.
The roots and crowns of herbaceous perennial plants survive and send up new
shoots in the spring. Strawberries, asparagus, and many ornamentals are herbaceous
perennials.
2. Woody perennial plants produce secondary growth that persists year after year. Secondary growth gives the plants the ability to grow in girth and height. Theoretically,
they can increase in size indefinitely. Woody perennials may flower and produce
seeds every year for many years. During the winter months, they go dormant or stop
any growth. Plant growth resumes in the spring as vegetative buds on the stems
sprout. Examples of woody perennial plants include pines, grapes, walnuts, maples,
and oranges.
Continue classroom discussion with emphasis on the plant life cycles. Use the recommended resource as a supplement to the instruction. Assign the laboratory on making herbarium specimens to strengthen student understanding of the material.
Review the material covered in this problem area with the students. Assess their
knowledge through oral responses to questions and by administering a quiz or test.
Use TMC to illustrate this objective.

Review/Summary.

Use the objectives as the guides for reviewing and summarizing


the content of the lesson. Call on various members of the class to explain the content associated
with each objective. Activities in small groups will also help in reviewing and summarizing the
content. Use observations as the basis for re-teaching areas where student mastery may need
improvement.

Application.

Use the transparencies, lab sheet, and technical supplement to apply the

information.

Evaluation.

Evaluation should focus on student achievement of the objectives for the


lesson. Various techniques can be used, such as observation of class participation and the use of a
written test. A sample test is attached.

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Answers to Sample Test:


Part One: Matching
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

e
a
i
c
j
g
d
b
f
h

Part Two: Fill-in-the-Blank


1. annuals
2. morphology
3. Nomenclature
Part Three: Multiple Choice
1. a
2. b
Part Four: Short Answer
Varieties are cultivated plants within a species that show a significant difference from other
plants in the species and the difference is inherited from the previous generation through sexual reproduction. Cultivars have distinguishing characteristics from the other plants in the
species, but do not transfer those characteristics to their offspring through sexual reproduction.

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Test

Name ________________________________________

CLASSIFYING AND NAMING PLANTS


u Part One: Matching
Instructions: Match the term with the correct response.
a.
b.
c.
d.

bolting
taxonomy
kingdom
morphology

e.
f.
g.
h.

dichotomous key
common name
scientific name
species

i. perennial
j. Carl von Linne

_______1. A written set of choices that leads to the name of a plant.


_______2. The rapid elongation of a stem.
_______3. A plant that has a life cycle of more than two growing seasons.
_______4. The first stage of classification with all living things in one of five groups.
_______5. A Swede who set out a classification system for minerals, plants, and animals.
_______6. The two-word name of a plant used by plant scientists.
_______7. Study of the internal and external appearance of a plant.
_______8. The scientific classification of plants and other organisms.
_______9. The name used by people without regard to scientific classification.
______10. The second name of a binomial name.

u Part Two: Fill-in-the-Blank


Instructions: Complete the following statements.
1. Plants that complete their life cycle within one year or one growing season are called
_____________________.
2. Distinctions in the stages of scientific classification are based on _____________.
3. ______________________ is the naming of organisms.

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u Part Three: Multiple Choice


Instructions: Write the letter of the correct answer.
_______1. What is a plant that normally requires two growing seasons to produce flowers and seed before
dying?
a.
b.
c.
d.

annual
biennial
perennial
winter annual

_______2. What types of plants germinate, produce leaves and roots, flower, produce seed, and then die, all in
one growing season?
a.
b.
c.
d.

summer annual
biennial
perennial
winter annual

u Part Four: Short Answer


Instructions: Answer the following question.
How do varieties and cultivars differ?

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TMA

PLANT CLASSIFICATION RANKS


Kingdom
Division (Phylum)
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species
Variety
Cultivar

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TMB

CLASSIFICATION COMPARISON OF
CORN AND TOMATO
CORN
Kingdom

TOMATO

Plantae

Plantae

Division (Phylum)

Tracheophyta

Tracheophyta

Class

Angiospermae

Angiospermae

Order

Monocotyledoneae

Dicotyledoneae

Family

Graminae

Solanaceae

Genus

Zea

Lycopersicum

Species

mays

esculentum

Variety

rugosa

commune

Cultivar

Illini Extra-Sweet

Big Boy

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TMC

ANNUAL, BIENNIAL, AND


PERENNIAL LIFE CYCLES
Annual

Germination

Growth

Flowering

Death

Growth

Dormancy

Growth
(Season 2)

Growth

Flowering

Biennial

Germination
(Season 1)

Flowering

Perennial

Germination

Dormancy

One or more flowering cycles

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Death

LSA: Teacher Information

MAKING HERBARIUM SPECIMENS


Agricultural Applications and Practices
A herbarium is a collection of pressed, dried, and labeled plants. A herbarium serves as a
reference library of plants. Herbarium specimens have monetary and scientific value.
Some specimens are considered priceless since they are irreplaceable. The approximate
value of herbarium specimens are typically based on the value of the collectors time, the
value of the curator and staff time, the cost of electricity, paper, glue and other supplies
and other costs inherent in storing the collection.
The scientific information found in a herbarium can be tremendous. Herbarium specimens document the appearance of a plant from a certain location at a particular time of
year. They can show the variation within a species. The nature of evolutionary processes
can be observed. Plus, the time of flowering and fruiting of particular plants can be documented.
Herbarium specimens have other uses. They are used for study away from the field or
during a different season. They serve to confirm the identity of plants used in taxonomic
studies. Finally, herbarium specimens often hold information about the medicinal, food
or utility of the plant.
Herbarium specimens of crops, weeds, and ornamental plants are useful in educational
settings for plant identification purposes.

Science ConnectionsQuestions for Investigation


1. Why are herbarium specimens valued?
2. What guidelines are in place for herbarium collections?

Research Problem
What is the proper procedure for collecting and preparing herbarium specimens?

Purpose of the Laboratory and Student Performance Objectives


Students will collect plant specimens and prepare them appropriately.

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Materials and/or Equipment


t Specimen plant materials (potted plants, leaves, seed, etc.)
t 100% rag mounting paper
t Newspapers
t Notebook
t Pen
t Plant presses
t Pruning shears
t White glue

Procedures
Give each student or group of students a copy of the student worksheet to perform the
activities.

Helpful Hints
Have students establish a herbarium in which specimens are filed in an organized manner
and have them use the herbarium for instructional purposes.

Anticipated Findings
Students should be able to collect and press a wide variety of plants.

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LSA: Student Worksheet

Name ________________________________________

MAKING HERBARIUM SPECIMENS


Procedures
1. Select plant material.
a. Collect samples that are representative of the population.
b. Collect specimen in flower and fruit.
c. Collect entire plant if possible.
d. Collect rootstocks of herbaceous plants, rosettes of biennials, etc.
e. Collect to show variation in an individual (adult, juvenile).
f. Collect supplemental materials including bark, fruit, and photographs.
g. Collect the twigs and buds of woody plants.
h. Collect several specimens if small.
i. Collect plants of all sizes, not just those that nicely fit on herbarium sheets.
j. Collect in various habitats to sample the range of diversity
2. Keep field notes by recording the following:
a. Assign a collection number to the sample
b. Name of plant (if known)
c. Locality (be precise; sectiontownshiprange; a GPS system is an excellent
addition to the tool bag of any field botanist)
d. Altitude
e. Habitat
f. Observations not apparent from the specimens, especially color, abundance,
odor, height of plant, etc.
g. Date
h. Ecological conditions at the site.

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3. Prepare the specimens


a. Prune the plant as necessary to obtain an attractive, yet scientifically accurate,
specimen.
b. Place the specimen between sheets of newspaper in a plant press. Arrange the
specimen in an attractive way with some leaves up and others down. Bend large
stems into a V or W. Plants shouldnt extend beyond edge of newspaper.
Write your collection number on the outside edge of the newspaper.
c. Place the specimens in a plant press in the following sequence:
1) framecardboard ventilator (note that the corrugations should all run in the
same direction, perpendicular to the long axis of the press)
2) blotter (dryer)
3) specimen in newsprint
4) blotter
5) cardboard
6) blotter
7) specimen
8) blotterrepeat, ad infinitum
d. Tighten the press with the strap.
e. Place press over source of heat, if possible, with adequate ventilation. Light bulbs
work well and minimize the fire hazard. Be sure that the heat source doesnt
touch the plant material.
f. After 812 hours open press and rearrange as necessary. Press again. It may be
necessary to change the newspaper and/or blotters. It is important to dry specimens quickly to prevent decomposition, mold growth, and to maintain color.
4. Mount specimen on herbarium paper (11.5 16.5, acid free, 100% rag) with white
glue or other product. Hold down the specimen with weights until the glue dries.
Once dry, specimens last for years.

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TSA

Technical Supplement

CLASSIFYING AND NAMING PLANTS


1. How are plants identified and classified?
Plants can be identified by observing distinguishing morphological characteristics.
Flower structures are primary features used in classification. Other parts of a plant
are also employed including fruit, leaves, stems, buds, bark, etc. Plants that show
similarities are considered to be closely related. These plants are placed into a specific plant family. An example of a woody plant family would be Fagaceae to which
oaks and beeches belong. Within each family there are members that are more
closely related than others. This relationship is demonstrated by the similarity of
basic morphological traits like leaf shape or arrangement. These plants are placed in
a group called a Genus. Oaks belong to the genus Quercus while beeches are placed in
the genus Fagus. Members of a plant genus are further subdivided into a species. For
instance, a white oak, Quercus alba has some distinct differences from the northern
red oak, Quercus rubra.
2. Why are flower parts so important in classifying plants?
Flower parts are the primary guide for classification because the flower is affected
less by growing conditions than other plant parts.

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