RESOURCES: Plants' Family Tree

Science  05 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5565, pp. 19a
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5565.19a

Does a rose still smell as sweet if we call it a nonlactiferous shrub with racemose inflorescences and intrapetiolar stipules? That wasn't what Shakespeare had in mind, of course, but plant biologists who need such precise technical descriptions can find them at the Angiosperm Phylogeny Web site from the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. This taxonomic synopsis provides key physical and biochemical characteristics for hundreds of families and genera and all of the 80-odd orders of angiosperms, the flowering plants. Author Peter Stevens packed the site with an enormous amount of information. Along with an evolutionary tree, he includes wise words about the systematics and classification history of the groups. To untangle those knotty problems in nomenclature, a complete listing of families and orders tells you which names are in and which are out.

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