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Plant Taxonomy


Syllabus 2015


Course Description

Classification of flowering plants, gymnosperms, and ferns. Emphasis on

collection, identification, and preparation of herbarium specimens.

Prerequisite: BIOL 149: You must check with the instructor if you do not satisfy the prerequisite otherwise, you will be dropped from the course. 

The course will prepare your for practical plant identification in any environment through learning how to use taxonomic keys and exposure to terminology, family characteristics, and plant systematics.  The course will require you to learn common plants of western Maryland.  You will also gain a sense of place in the Appalachian Mountains where you attend college.   

Course Objectives

  • To be able to use a key to identify herbaceous plant species native to western Maryland.
  • To know the morphology, distribution, habitat, ecology, and value of these species.
  • To be able to state, define, and give examples of the components of taxonomy:  description, identification, nomenclature, and classification. 
  • To describe a plant, using the descriptive terminology of plant morphology, anatomy, embryology, palynology, and reproductive biology. 
  • To name, classify, and diagnose several of the major families of flowering plants. 
  • Learn how to collect (including properly recording field data), identify, and process plants for herbarium specimens. 
  • State the principles and rules of plant nomenclature, including how to publish a new taxon name, and know how to use and apply botanical names.


You may forget much of the detail of this material, however, there are some aspects that I hope will serve you well throughout your life: 1) appreciate the beauty and intricacy of plants and enjoy discovering things about nature; 2) improve your skills in memory, observation, writing, and critical thinking; 3) gain base knowledge of the structure, function, and evolutionary history of plants.