What's New in Botany in a Day?
Adapting to APG Classification
Note: This page is intended for readers who learned plant classification prior to APG and want to know how the new system is handled in Botany in a Day. If you are new to botany, then this page is unnecessary and probably highly confusing! You are best to proceed directly to Botany in a Day.
Over the winter of 2012 - 2013, I invested more than a thousand hours of new work into Botany in a Day, adding color illustrations and updating the book to APG III classification. APG is a system of classification published by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, replacing the Cronquist system that was popular in the last few decades of the twentieth century. The greatest challenge in updating the book was to make it forwards compatible with the latest research on plant classification, while keeping it backwards compatible with hundreds of excellent plant identification and herbal books that were written prior to APG. The revised Botany in a Day provides surprisingly intuitive navigation between the old and new systems.
Overall, APG has confirmed much of what was already known, and many plant families are largely unchanged from previous classification systems. However, some families were modified by moderate, significant, or extreme degrees. This page features several examples showcasing what those changes look like.
Example One: Minor Changes - The Saxifrage Family
The Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae) is still largely the same as it was. The family used to be in the Rose order. Now it is in the Saxifrage order. No big deal there. The page is largely the same as before, except for the addition of some color artwork. Here is the updated image for the Saxifrage family:
Example Two: Lumping - The Poppy/Fumitory Family
In several cases, two or more families that were known to be closely related have been lumped together. For example, the Poppy family and the closely related Fumitory family (a.k.a. the Bleeding Heart family) were placed side-by-side in older versions of Botany in a Day. APG reclassifies the Fumitory family as a subfamily of the Poppy family, which is more accurate based on genetics, but not particularly useful for identification, since the flowers do not obviously resemble each other.
The new version of Botany in a Day lumps the families together as one to be consistent with APG, but keeps them on the original separate, but facing pages, with independent descriptions for ease of identification. Thus, the reader can easily move between an old text that lists bleeding heart (Dicentra) in the Fumitory family or a new text that lists it in the Poppy family. No big change there! The book still works the same as before. Here is a look at the two-page spread. Click on the image to expand it in a new window:
Example Three: Splitting - The Honeysuckle/Adoxa Families
In some cases, traditional families were re-examined and split apart into two or more closely related families. For example, several genera were split out of the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae) to form the closely related Adoxa family (Adoxaceae). The new version of Botany in a Day recognizes this split to be consistent with APG, yet keeps all the information on the same page to be cross-compatible with older texts. Pretty simple. Here is a look at the two-page spread:
Example Four: Major Splitting - The Lily Family and its Allies
The traditional Lily family was a conglomeration of just about any monocot plant with 3 sepals and 3 petals that are usually identical in size and color, plus 6 stamens, and a 3-parted pistil. Botanists have long recognized that the Lily family included many distantly related plants with similar features, but couldn't decisively determine who was related to who. The result was numerous different classification schemes that have lived and died. Some plants from the traditional Lily family may appear under as many as five different family names in five different books.
As a result of microbiology and genetic research, APG classification should theoretically be more accurate than previous systems, although even here there are notable changes between the original APG (1998) and the revised APG II (2003) and APG III (2009). But basically, the traditional Lily family was broken into a whole bunch of new families and subfamilies, which required adding several additional pages to the book.
For the purposes of identification, the user still starts with the basic Lily-like pattern, and the updated text includes a new key for sorting out which Lily-like family your flower belongs to. In other words, there is more detail to the Lily family and the new families that were segregated out of it, but it is basically the same process. In the illustration featured here you can see some of what is left in the true Lily family. Click on the image to expand it in a new window.
Example Five: All out Mayhem - The Old and New Figwort Families
The magnificent Figwort family got gutted in the game of taxonomic reshuffling. Based on genetic evidence, most Figwort-type flowers were shuffled into the closely related Plantain, Lopseed, and Broomrape families. The move to the Plantain family is especially disconcerting, since figworts and plantains do not look anything alike. But by any measure the reconfigured Plantain family essentially is the Figwort family.
This mess gave me a real headache for about half a day, until I came up with the illustration shown here as a means to clarify the situation and make the book compatible with old and new texts. Click on the image to expand it in a new window.
As you can see, there isn't much left in the true Figwort family, but the Figwort-like pattern still works as a starting point for plant identification. Start with the Figwort family, and then sort out which family your specimen belongs to, keeping in mind that the family name will likely be different in different books.
The new edition of Botany in a Day also includes the Acanthus family, which includes many Figwort-like flowers in the southern states.
In summary, the new Botany in a Day is up to date with current plant classification literature, yet also backwards compatible with older texts. It is also rich with color and refined family pattern descriptions. Where else can you buy a thousand hours of labor for $30? Order your copy today!
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