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 many 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


From Linnaeus to Darwin (pre-Darwinian)

  • Linnaean systems
    Systema Naturae, 1st edition, 1735.
    Systema Naturae, 10th edition, 1758 (vol. 1), 1759 (vol. 2). Starting point of zoological nomenclature.
    Species Plantarum, 1753. Starting point of botanical nomenclature.
    Genera Plantarum, 1737 (1st ed.), 1753 (5th ed.).
    Philosophia Botanica, 1751.
  • Adanson system
    Familles naturelles des plantes, 1763.
  • de Jussieu system
    A.L. de Jussieu (1789). Genera Plantarum, secundum ordines naturales disposita juxta methodum in Horto Regio Parisiensi exaratam.
    (available online at Gallica)
  • de Candolle system
    A. P. de Candolle (1819). Théorie élémentaire de la botanique, ou exposition des principes de la classification naturelle et de l'art de décrire et d'etudier les végétaux (2nd ed.).
    A. P. de Candolle; et al. (1824–1873). Prodromus systemati naturalis regni vegetabilis sive enumeratio contracta ordinum, generum specierumque plantarum huc usque cognitarum, juxta methodi naturalis normas digesta.
    (available online at Gallica)
  • Berchtold and Presl system
    Berchtold and Presl. O Prirozenosti Rostlin 1820
  • Dumortier system
    Dumortier, Barthélemy-Charles (1829). Analyse des familles des plantes :avec l'indication des principaux genres qui s'y rattachent (in French). Tournay: Casterman. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  • Lindley system
    Lindley (1830). An Introduction to the Natural System of Botany.
    (available online at BHL)
    Lindley (1845). The Vegetable Kingdom.
    (available online at BHL)
  • Bentham & Hooker system
    G. Bentham & J.D. Hooker (1862–1883). Genera plantarum ad exemplaria imprimis in herbariis kewensibus servata definita. 3 volumes.
    (available online at Gallica)
  • Baillon system
    H. Baillon (1867–1894). Histoire des plantes. 13 volumes.

Post Darwinian (Phyletic)

Other systems


External links


Note: This is a selected list of the more influential systems. There are many other systems, for instance a review of earlier systems, published by Lindley in his 1853 edition, and Dahlgren (1982). Examples include the works of Scopoli, Batsch and Grisebach.