Plant Taxonomy Chart – Succulents

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As we delve into how to identify succulents and learn about specific ones, I think it is important to get a basic understanding of the plant taxonomy chart and how succulents fit it. Hang on, it may be a bumpy ride!

What is a Plant Taxonomy Chart?

Glad you asked!

Way back in the 18th century, this smart guy named Carolus Linnaeus (Swedish) decided we needed a system to arrange and classify all living things. This became our system of taxonomy. Imagine taking every living thing from algae to humans to trees to dolphins to birds and then organizing them based on “likeness”. That boggles my mind! So he developed a classification chart, sorta a giant family tree.

When he first developed the system, nothing was really known about DNA and what happened inside each plant. His system was built more on which plants looked alike, which was fine then but now we know plants can have more in common than meets the eye. The current system of classification is called “phylogenetic classification” which organizes each plant by their common ancestor. This system allows plants that have evolved and look different from their cousins to still be classified together (insert your own family joke here).

He also developed the two-part naming system we still use. The first word is capitalized and is the genus, the second word is lower case and is the species. Both words are usually in Latin and they should always be in italics. You have probably seen Homo sapiens listed before.

Because this family tree is so big, we are just going to concentrate on the parts we need for succulents. Here (to the right) is an overview, keep in mind this is a rough overview, the chart is sometimes changed to reflect new research and discoveries plus categories in the plant section are not necessarily the ones used for other kingdoms.