tree-logo.gif (7741 bytes) Plant Taxonomy (BIOL308)  -  Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D.; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

Vegetative Structures Study Guide

Background Information:

General Study Tips/Questions:

  1. Scavenger Hunt:  Hunt for examples of the terms, especially those for leaf blade shape, leaf apices, leaf bases, leaf margins, and surface features.
  2. As you study, some questions to consider: What does each feature look like? Can you sketch a plant with these features? Can you describe it in your own words? How can you distinguish between these structures (e.g., root vs. stem, compound vs. simple leaves, palmate vs. pinnate, fibrous vs. adventitious root)? Can you give some examples of these?
  3. Use your tape recorder to record definitions of each term. Use each term in a sentence.
  4. Make flashcards with each term and a diagram (excellent diagrams can be found online, in Zomlefer's book and other sources)
  5. Pick 10 - a clever exercise adapted from Texas A&M: Collect a plant specimen(s) to show at least ten of the following vegetative features:  herb, shrub, tree, vine (not necessary to get whole plant for these), evergreen, deciduous, simple leaves, pinnately compound leaves (odd or evenly pinnate?), twice pinnately compound leaves, palmately compound leaves, prickle, thorn, spine, tendril, aerial root, entire margin, serrate margin (single or doubly serrate?), crenate margin, lobed leaf (palmately or pinnately lobed?), pubescent leaf, scabrous leaf, alternate leaves, opposite leaves, whorled leaves, glaucous, leaves with stipules, pinnate venation, parallel venation, twig with prominent lenticels.  Tape your sample to a sheet a paper and label the features. 
  6. Answer questions in the text such as 1-30.
  7. Answer the questions in the Vegetative Structures Quiz posted in the Public Folder.

Plant Study:  Obtain a variety of specimens and complete the following table.

Table 1: Vegetative Features
Characters & States (use as many as apply)

Species (binomial and family)

Life span (annual, biennial, perennial, winter annual)          
Leaf duration:  Evergreen or deciduous          
Woody or Herbaceous          
Growth Form (herb, shrub, tree, forb, vine, liana, succulent - use as many as pertain)          
Root type (tap, fibrous, adventitious)          
Stem type (rhizome, tuber, stolon, bulb, corm, caulescent, erect, climbing, prostrate)          
Leaf attachment (basal, cauline, rosette, sessile, perfoliate, sheathing)          
Leaf arrangement (alternate, opposite, whorled)          
Venation (palmate, pinnate, dichotomous, net)          
Stipules (+/-, shape, persistence (caducous?), size)          
Leaf compounding (simple, pin-cpd, palm-cpd)          
Leaf Shape (lanceolate, ovate, cordate, reniform, linear, oblong, elliptical, deltoid, spatulate, sagitate, other?)          
Shape of Leaf Base (acute, obtuse, truncate, emarginate, acuminate, mucronate)          
Shape of Leaf Apex           
Margin (entire, lobed, serrate, doubly serrate, crenate, undulate)          
Spines, thorns, or  prickles?          
Surface (glabrous, glaucous, pubescent, tomentose; are both sides the same?)          

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Last updated:  09/25/2008 / � Copyright by SG Saupe