Cultivated Plant Taxonomy - Distinctive Characteristics

Distinctive Characteristics

Further information: Cultivar, Group, and Grex

Cultivated plant taxonomy has been distinguished from the taxonomy of other plants in at least five ways. Firstly, there is a distinction made according to where the plants are growing — that is, whether they are wild or cultivated. This is alluded to by the Cultivated Plant Code which specifies in its title that it is dealing with cultivated plants. Secondly, a distinction is made according to how the plants originated. This is indicated in Principle 2 of the Cultivated Plant Code which defines the scope of the Code as "... plants whose origin or selection is primarily due to the intentional actions of mankind" — plants that have evolved under natural selection with human assistance.Thirdly, cultivated plant taxonomy is concerned with plant variation that requires the use of special classification categories that do not conform with the hierarchy of ranks implicit in the Botanical Code, these categories being the cultivar, Group and grex (which are only loosely equivalent to ranks in the Botanical Code). This feature is also referred to in the Preamble to the Cultivated Plant Code which states that "The purpose of giving a name to a taxon is not to indicate its characters or history, but to supply a means of referring to it and to indicate to which category it is assigned." Fourthly, cultivated plant taxonomy serves a particular community of people: the Botanical Code focuses on the needs of plant taxonomists as they attempt to maintain order and stability for the scientific names of all plants, while the Cultivated Plant Code caters for the needs of people requiring names for plants used in the commercial world of agriculture, forestry and horticulture. Finally, the difference between cultivated plant taxonomy and the taxonomy of other plants has been attributed to the purpose for which the taxonomy has been devised, it being plant-centred in the Botanical Code and human-centred in the Cultivated Plant Code.

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