Principles and Concepts in the Classification of Higher Taxa

  • V. H. Heywood
Part of the Plant Systematics and Evolution / Entwicklungsgeschichte und Systematik der Pflanzen book series (SYSTEMATICS, volume 1)


Despite the very great interest shown by botanists during the last 100 years in the “phylogenetic classification” of the Flowering Plants, much more attention seems to have been paid to the phylogenetic components of such schemes (despite the lack of adequate evidence) than to their taxonomic/classificatory components (for which much evidence is available). There is in fact an inbuilt conflict involved in constructing a scheme that attempts to express both the dynamic/historical phylogenetic component and a static horizontal present day classification, which makes most of the conventional phylogenetic tree-like diagrams conceptually suspect.

In the Flowering Plants, only the classes and families are widely accepted whereas there are numerous plausible ordinal classifications. The kind of questions we have to ask in the case of higher categories and taxa such as the subclass and order are: are the criteria to be primarily phylogenetic, or taxonomic in the sense of aiming at better circumscriptions of the taxa, greater predictive value, stability, etc.? Only when we have answered these and similar questions can we decide whether we should be aiming at cladogenetic schemes or anagenetic grades or an explicit combination of both.


Fossil Record Calcium Oxalate High Taxon Fossil Pollen Phylogenetic Classification 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bentham, G., 1873: Notes on the classification, history and geographical distribution of Compositae. J. Linn. Soc. (Bot.) 13, 335–577.Google Scholar
  2. Constance, L., 1964: Systematic botany—an unending synthesis. Taxon 13, 257–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cronquist, A., 1975: Some thoughts on angiosperm phylogeny and taxonomy. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 62, 517–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dahlgren, R., 1975: A system of classification of the angiosperms to be used to demonstrate the distribution of characters. Bot. Notiser 128, 119–147.Google Scholar
  5. El-Gazzar, A., and Hamza, M. K., 1975: On the Monocots-Dicots distinction. Publ. Cairo Univ. Herb. 6, 15–28.Google Scholar
  6. Heywood, V. H., 1966: How many taxonomies? Rev. Roum. Biol. sér. Bot. 11, 101–106.Google Scholar
  7. Harborne, J. B., and Turner, B. L. (Eds.), 1977: The Biology and Chemistry of the Compositae. London-New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hennig, W., 1966: Phylogenetic Systematics. Urbana, Chicago and London: Univ. Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hughes, N. F., 1976: Paleobiology of Angiosperm Origins. Cambridge: University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jacobs, M., 1969: Large Families—not alone! Taxon 18, 253–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Stebbins, G. L., 1975: Deductions about transspecific evolution through extrapolation from processes at the population and species level. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 62, 825–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Thorne, R. F., 1974: A phylogenetic classification of the Annoniflorae. Aliso 8, 117–209.Google Scholar
  13. Tiffney, B. H., 1977: Dicotyledonous angiosperm flowers from the Upper Cretaceous of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Nature 265, 136–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Walker, J. W., 1974: Aperture evolution in the pollen of primitive angiosperms. Amer. J. Bot. 61, 1112–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Walker, J. W., 1976: Comparative pollen morphology and phylogeny of the Ranalean complex. In: Origin and early evolution of angiosperms (Beck, C. B., Ed.), 241–299. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. H. Heywood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, Plant Science LaboratoriesUniversity of ReadingWhiteknights, ReadingEngland

Personalised recommendations