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Korean J. Pl. Taxon > Volume 29(4); 1999 > Article
Korean Journal of Plant Taxonomy 1999;29(4): 355-362.
doi: https://doi.org/10.11110/kjpt.1999.29.4.355
Roles of herbaria in plant systematic studies
Hans P Nooteboom
To begin with : No plant systematics without herbaria. That is true for classical, morphological systematics, and also for modern, molecular, systematics. Plant systematics is the discipline of ordering plants into categories, naming as well the categories as the plants. For the categories we have the convention that the species is the basic category. Related species are placed in genera, related genera in families. Each family has a name, each species has two names, that of the genus and the species epithet. The aim of plant systematics is knowledge of plants. Knowledge that can be communicated. Knowledge that is necessary especially for international communication. Where would horticulture, forestry, pharmaceutics, ecology and physiology be without systematics? Darwin build his evolution theory on the systematics of plants and animals. So systematics is basic to many other sciences but also has many practical implications, also in international commerce. To be able to give every species a name we need an archive of plant specimens. The problem is that nature is variable. It is impossible to describe and name one plant, and decide that all similar plants belong to that species. In reality we study many collections of plants, generally not two of them identical. If we find a gap between one group of collections and another group, we may decide that we deal with two different species, each of which we can give a name. As Plant Systematics with its system of binary names originated with the Species Plantarum of Linnaeus, in 1753, plant systematists are nearly 250 year engaged in the study and naming of species. Several families have been revised two or three times, but we are far from a final system. That is because,
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