Systematic Botany Projects Guidelines



a.   To become familiar with the classification of a group of plants.
b.   To use the classification and existing literature to prepare a plan for a representative collection of your chosen group.
c.   To become familiar with the living collections of your chosen group and to suggest ways in which these collections could be improved.

A manager of a Living Collection or a Herbarium Systematist should be able to use your completed project as a summary of the classification and as a report of the status of collections of a particular group. Suggested a range of 10 to 13  taxa should be chosen (can be a chosen selection of taxa in your group). The project should have a horticultural aim (well illustrated, simple vocabulary or with a glossary).  It is expected during this project that you will use mainly supportive literature research, but remember to include some personal observations, remarks, illustrations and recommendations for which you will gain extra marks.
A limit of 7,000 words is expected to include guidelines A-E

A.  Introduction

Provide an introduction to your chosen group, giving an idea of its size and summaries of its geographical distribution, ecology, taxonomic position and discussion of how it may be distinguished from its nearest relatives.

B.  Classification

Some taxonomic groups have several existing classifications, some only one and others appear to have no accepted systematic arrangement for the whole group.  Comment on existing classification(s).  If more than one exists briefly outline the differences between them and, with argued justification, choose one to follow.  Whichever classification is used, you should think critically about the possible limitations of the system that you are going to use.
Present the chosen classification including possible subdivisions into lower ranks.

C.  Description of your group

A proven key has to be included (preferably from the literature). Followed by a description of the main morphological characters of your group, and a description of each taxon using your own observations (pictures and the herbarium specimen you have made should illustrate the observations) as well as information from the literature. Only main synonyms to be listed and names to be written with authority and in italic or bold.
Example: Abelia umbellata (Graebn. & Buchw.) Rehd. (syn. Zabelia umbellata (Graebn. & Buchw.) Makino )  If already cited before, you can write  A. umbellata

D.  Representative Living Collections

i.    Find out what holdings of the group are.  You must see the plants for yourself and make first hand observations.  Find out if the accessions have been verified.  Determine the source of the accessions and, where possible, the range of genotypes represented. Some statistics figures would be useful.
i.    Discuss whether holdings are representative of your group.  Are there other representative collections elsewhere ?  How widely is your group cultivated?
iii. Discuss about the existing interpretation panels in the garden and uses made of your group and design a new interpretation panel (A4 size).

E. References

Bibliographic citations should be used throughout the text and cited as a single block at the end. All bibliography cited ought to be included in the references and vice-versa. No need to list background reading as a separate bibliography.  Illustrations to be acknowledged. 

      For an article in a journal        
Backlund, A. & N. Pyck. (1998). Diervillaceae and Linnaeaceae, two new families of caprifolioids. Taxon 47(3): 657-661.

      For a book                                  
Hayashi, Y. (1994). Woody plants of Japan. Tokyo, Yama-kei Publishers. 240pp.

      For a website                             

Natural History Museum, Research and Curation(2012) The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project [online]. London, Natural history Museum.  Available from: [accessed 25/06/2012]