Articles, Blog

“The Plant Family Tree” by Kew Gardens and Lonelyleap

November 17, 2019


Kew’s Herbarium is home to
one of the largest collections Of dried plant specimens in the world Over the past two centuries taxonomists have organized and catalogued over 7 million specimens The original purpose in
collecting all these together Was figuring out what
they could be used for And if you could cultivate them Where were the best places to
cultivate them outside their native range So you had tea from China bananas from Malaysia coffee from Africa and oil producing trees from Brazil you could say that it was a collection sorts in the 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus Developed the binomial system of naming So each species had a two-part of name a Larger category which we now called genus And one referred to the species That was really a breakthrough Because that allowed people
very quickly and accurately To tell each other which
species they were talking about In the 19th century Charles Darwin published his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species He had observed that different plants
had similarities to each other And he realized that all of them
must share a common ancestor The idea of classification became stronger And Kew in fact developed its own
system of morphological classification Entirely based on what
you could see with a naked eye And a little bit that
you could see with a microscope The plant tree began to take form Chapter four 1980s our most recent development in
understanding the family tree came with the introduction of
DNA technology in the 1980s By being able to look at
the molecule of plants we can now understand
the evolution of plants over time and trace in incredible detail the diversity back to its simplest origins What’s incredible is that 90 percent
of the family that has been previously defined based on morphological characters
were verified by the DNA work 500 million years ago, it was just various groups of algae red green brown the green algae started to first make their way onto the land developing into more complex structures like the liverworts hornworts or mosses 100 million years later
we started to see things such as club mosses ferns and horsetails and then 50 million years later plants with seeds were organized
into cones came into existence such as conifer cycads and spruces the world was a green place lots and lots of green a few brown cones but color wasn’t there everything was just very photosynthetic very nice roughly about 140 million years ago the flowering plants appeared and really that’s still a bit of a mystery 350 thousand species in total incredibly complex and diverse the lilies orchids grasses palms gingers magnolias cacti peas and beans potatoes roses mints flowers really change the world they made possible an incredible diversity of other kinds of lifestyles for other organisms they feed us, clothe us provide us with medicines products to build our homes out of it etc. the plant family tree gives us
a frame work for asking the really important question
about how our eco system funtion It’s those connections that tell us most of what we want to know
about evolution of life of not just plant but the other things
that depend upon plants which is everything the evolutionary tree is a great achievement you can see it as a tool for the rest of science the rest of humanity the process now is 95% complete so the story is pretty well told now I would say

5 Comments

  • Reply Trang Chung August 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    nice music

  • Reply bubble bath May 29, 2017 at 11:24 am

    this was lovely,thank you.

  • Reply susmita mondal June 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Well described.

  • Reply felizup28 September 19, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Important and necessary.

  • Reply Marcelo Kohashi October 5, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Name of the music?

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