Garden docents learn about plant families and taxonomy
On Tuesday morning, garden docents participated in a presentation on plant families and taxonomy. Gardens of study were Dunn Formal Rose, McReynolds and Southern Living Gardens. Melanie Johns, Birmingham Botanical Gardens plant taxonomist, enlightened our docents about some of the changes in taxonomy regarding some species found in The Gardens.
Gardeners, horticulturists and plant nurseries are mainly affected by taxonomic name changes which occur as a result of advances in botanical knowledge leading to a reclassification of plants. The great majority of cases happen when a plant is transferred from one higher taxon to another, e.g. a species to another genus, due to the reassessment of its position in a particular classification.
The only thing consistent in the plant world is change. Today the majority of botanists and taxonomists are working towards an objectively argued classification system. Many existing classification schemes are somewhat artificial because they reflect the viewpoints of individual taxonomists, rather than attempting to show the patterns in the way plants actually have evloved or how they are related to one another.
The adoption of such an improved system would benefit not only the plant breeder, but also all those looking for plant products and sources of beneficial characteristics, which may be found in closely related species. Name changes will therefore be inevitable as taxonomist move in this direct. A consensus of views should be encourage in order to find which names would be most widely accepted by the botanical community.