Introduction to Plant Taxonomy: Part 2, Kingdom
All life is organised by Taxonomic Rank. This system is used to separate forms of life by their characteristics. In terms of plant knowledge and understanding, the most relevant Taxonomic Ranks to be able to navigate are the lowest ranks of Family, Genus and Species. Articles discussing each of these ranks can be read by clinking on their name.
To understand the higher orders in simple detail though, it is also worth reading this and the following articles on Domain, Kingdom (this article), Phylum, Class and Order before jumping to the lowest ranks.
To begin, let us look at the hierarchy of the rank. In theory, there is a higher tier Super Rank of Life, but we can assume that Life is organised from Domain to Species in all practical terms. See below for the sequence in which all Life is divided.
In our previous article (click here to read) we discussed Domain. The rank below Domain is Kingdom, where we start to divide categories of life into more relatable Kingdoms.
As with all branches of science, there are multiple, marginally differing theories on this division, but the currently (largely) accepted description of Kingdom in the UK is that there are five kingdoms within the Domain of Eukarya. Largely, disputes over whether there are five or six kingdoms relates to the positioning of Viruses within the Domains and kingdoms. I expect that this categorisation will continue to be debated and changes over time will continue.
The five Kingdoms that are commonly placed within the Domain of Eukarya are Animalia (Animals if you will), Chromista (a varied group including most algae), Fungi (Mushrooms as well as moulds and yeasts), Plantae (Plants and some algae, our focus here) and Protozoa (Single-celled lifeforms, though some in Chromista are also single celled).
The Kingdom of Plantae includes all things we consider to be plants and although some Algae may seem plant-like, most are not included in this Kingdom. Within each of the Kingdoms there are Phyla, (the plural of Phylum), which we discuss next.
A useful and readable book to guide you through the fundamentals of Botany including taxonomy.
Another straightforward guide, perhaps more focused on botany.
A book for anyone who likes the subject a LOT!
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