List of systems of plant taxonomy

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A pioneering system of plant taxonomy, Linnaeus's Systema Naturae, Leiden, 1735

This list of systems of plant taxonomy presents “taxonomic systems” used in plant classification.

A taxonomic system is a coherent whole of taxonomic judgments on circumscription and placement of the considered taxa. It is only a “system” if it is applied to a large group of such taxa (for example, all the flowering plants).

There are two main criteria for this list. A system must be taxonomic, that is deal with a large number of plants, by their botanical names. Secondly it must be a system, i.e. deal with the relationships of plants. Although thinking about relationships of plants had started much earlier (see history of plant systematics), such systems really only came into being in the 19th century, as a result of an ever increasing influx from all over the world of newly discovered plant species. The 18th century saw some early systems, which are perhaps precursors rather than full taxonomic systems.

A milestone event was the publication of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus which serves as the starting point of binomial nomenclature for plants. By its size this would qualify to be on this list, but it does not deal with relationships, beyond assigning plants into genera.

Note that a system is not necessarily monolithic and often goes through several stages of development, resulting in several versions of the same system. When a system is widely adopted, many authors will adopt their own particular version of the system. The Cronquist system is well known for existing in many versions.

Chronological list of systems[edit]


From Linnaeus to Darwin (pre-Darwinian)[edit]

Post Darwinian (Phyletic)[edit]

  • Eichler system
    Eichler (1883). Syllabus der Vorlesungen über Phanerogamenkunde (3rd ed.). 
  • Engler system
    A. Engler & K. Prantl (1887–1915; 2nd edition, 1924–). Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    A. Engler (1892). Syllabus der Vorlesungen über specielle und medicinisch-pharmaceutische Botanik [or, in further editions, Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien]. 
  • Dalla Torre & Harms system
    K.W. von Dalla Torre & H. Harms (1900–1907). Genera Siphonogamarum, ad systema Englerianum conscripta. 
  • Bessey system
    Charles E. Bessey (1907). "A Synopsis of Plant Phyla". Univ. Nebraska Studies 7: 275–358.
    Charles E. Bessey (1915). "The phylogenetic taxonomy of flowering plants". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden (Missouri Botanical Garden Press) 2 (1/2): 109–164. doi:10.2307/2990030. JSTOR 2990030. 
  • Wettstein system
    R. Wettstein (in two volumes, 1901-1908; 2nd edition, 1911; 3rd edition, 1923-24; 4th edition, 1933-35). Handbuch der systematischen Botanik.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Rendle system
    Alfred Barton Rendle. The Classification of Flowering Plants 1904, 1925
  • Lotsy system
    Johannes Paulus Lotsy. Vorträge über botanische Stammesgeschichte, gehalten an der Reichsuniversität zu Leiden. Ein Lehrbuch der Pflanzensystematik. 1907-1911
  • Benson system
    Lyman David Benson. Plant Classification 1957
  • Hutchinson system
    J. Hutchinson (two volumes, 1926–1934; 2nd edition 1959; 3rd edition, 1973). The families of flowering plants, arranged according to a new system based on their probable phylogeny.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Goldberg system
    Aaron Goldberg (1986). "Classification, Evolution and Phylogeny of the Families of Dicotyledons". Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 58: 1–314. doi:10.5479/si.0081024x.58.  (available online: Full text (PDF) here) [there is also a comparison among 11 Dicotyledons systems since 1960 until 1985]
    Aaron Goldberg (1989). "Classification, Evolution and Phylogeny of the Families of Monocotyledons". Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 71: 1–73. doi:10.5479/si.0081024x.71.  (available online: Full text (PDF) here)

Other systems[edit]

External links[edit]