In order to understand the natural world, one of the goals science tries to achieve involves classifying and studying the various elements of it. In order to classify living things, scientists have to examine the object and look for similarities it shares with others.
To begin at the most basic level, we might look at cells or the chemical processes an organism goes through in order to produce energy. In the case of plants, we look at photosynthesis, or how the plant processes water or carbon dioxide.
We divide these classifications into one of five kingdoms, plants being only one. Single-celled organisms, protocists, animals and fungi contain the other species. The animal kingdom is the largest of the five kingdoms.
Plants are divided into two basic groups: those that produce seeds and those that do not. Of the 400,000 or so plant species that scientists have been able to name, 300,000 or so are able to flower.
Scientists also study the cycle of life, which can reveal even more similarities between two types of plants. For example, how a plant germinates or how long its flowers bloom. All of these qualities give clues as to the plant’s classification.
Every aspect of a plant, or any organism, is taken into account during the process of classification. Not much of that is done these days, but classification is still important. Understanding a particular plant’s history and genealogical line will help us figure out what to plant, what to eat or what is safe for our animals to be around.