Taxonomic Aids: Definition, Types, Examples, and Importance

Taxonomic Aids: Definition, Types, Examples, and Importance

Definition of Taxonomic Aids

Taxonomic aids are tools, methods, and recorded knowledge by which we can recognize and classify living creatures. Now we will discuss some taxonomic aids

 Botanical Garden

The Garden may be defined as a place where we grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Botanical Garden is defined as an Educational institute for scientific workers, common people, or laymen to develop an interest in plant life. The Botanical Gardens are important for Botanists, Home Gardeners, Nurserymen, Horticulture, Landscape Gardens, and millions of national and international tourists. Botanical Gardens contain a collection of living plants, thus they are sometimes known as living Herbaria. So these are scientific plant institutions for the collection of living plants. The plants which are grown in Botanical Gardens are from different geographical areas as well as they are of different types.

  Major Botanical Gardens of the World

1. Botanical Garden at Pisa, Italy and it was established in 1543.

2. Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, England and it was established in 1760.

3. Lalgabh or Mysore State Botanical Garden, Bangalore and it was established in 1760.

4. Lloyd Botanical Garden, Darjeeling, India and it was established in 1878.

5. Jardin Botanique de Montreal, Canada, and was established in 1936.Some important Botanical Gardens of India

1. Indian Botanical Garden: It is the largest and oldest Botanical Garden in India. It was formerly known as Royal Botanical Garden or Calcutta Botanical Garden. The Garden stretches over 110 hectares. The famous landmark of the Garden is the “ Great Banyan Tree” which is said to be about 500 years old with the present circumference of its canopy is more than its branches 29 m, 1328 feet and its height of 98 feet.

2. Lalbagh Garden of Mysore State Botanical Garden, Bangalore. The name Lalbagh was first coined in the garden by Hyder Ali in 1760 because of roses and other red flowers.It has a rich variety of medicinal, industrial, ornamental, and other economic plants from most parts of the world. The Garden occupies an area of about 240 acres.

3. National  Botanical Garden, Lucknow: It was converted into a Botanical Garden under the control of the Council of Scientific and industrial research. It was built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and is spread over about 75 acres on the south bank of the river Gomti. It has well-equipped laboratories of tissue culture, Virology, Palynology, Physiology, Morphology, Aromatics, Cytogenetics, etc.

Note: The largest Botanical Garden in the world is Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, England.

Herbarium: Definition, Kinds, and Functions

A herbarium is a place for the storage of dried, pressed plant specimens mounted on herbarium sheets. So we can easily be called Herbarium as a storehouse of plants.

A herbarium is a place where plants collected from far and wide are preserved in pressed and dried conditions. they are kept in pigeon holes of almirahs according to an accepted system of classification. The art of Herbarium was started by an Italian taxonomist Luca Ghini (1490-1556). Plant specimens in a dried state have been preserved for over 450 years. Gherardo Cibo obtained the oldest known Herbarium specimen in 1532, which is held in Rome.

Note: The Herbarium specimens are systematically arranged on Bentham and Hooker classification system.

 Kinds of Herbaria

1. Herbaria of Medicinal plants.

 2. Regional Herbaria

 3. Local Herbaria

 How do you make a Herbarium?

The steps required for the formation of Herbarium are

1. Collection

2. Drying

3. Poising

4. The Mounting, Stitching, and Labelling

5. Deposition.

1. Collection: The plant or plant material collected should not collect diseased, infected, or inappropriate plant material. the plant specimen should be given a field number. If the plant which is collected is herbaceous whole plant is collected along with the root system.if it is a woody plant or shrub only part of the plant is utilized or the only twing of the plant is collected.Twing shows features like leaves, Roots, or Flowers of the plant. The size of the Twing should be from 30-40cm. The plant which is collected is now placed in a polythene bag or metallic box called vasculum. this is done because of the deterioration of the plant or to prevent the loss of water from it.

2. Drying: Now the plant specimen or plant material is spread over newspaper or blotting paper. the newspaper is kept in the folder and the folder is placed inside a machine called Field press. the field press does uniform pressing of the specimen. the newspaper absorbs the moisture otherwise there will be a pathogenic attack.

3. Poising: The chemicals are used to protect the specimen from the attack of pathogens. The chemicals which are used are 0.1% of mercuric chloride, which can kill fungi thus it protects the specimen from fungal attack thus it is a fungicide, and DDT is also used as it protects the specimen from insects thus it is an insecticide.

4. Mounting, Stitching, and Labelling: The specimen is placed over a herbarium sheet. The plant specimen is glued or stitched over Herbarium. The labeling is done on the lowermost corner. what should be there in the labeling, there should be Scientific name, Vernacular name, Family, name of collector, Date, and place of the collection along with that we are going to write some of the economic utility of the specimen. The specimen is ready. 

 5. Deposition: The dried specimen are stored in wooden or steel Almirahs for safe deposit and future record and these are arranged according to the accepted system o classification in a systematic arrangement and the one which most accepted one i.e Bentham and Hooker system.

Some most important functions of the Herbarium are as

        Functions or uses of Herbarium

1. It serves as a fundamental resource for the identification of all plants in the world.

2. It serves as a source for the collection of biodiversity. It is estimated that most global biodiversity today is based on Herbarium collection only.

3. It serves as a source for a search for new genetic material for the improvement of cultivated stock.

4. Herbarium serves as a tool in teaching helps in identifying the newly collected specimens.

5. It may be used as a source of material for Anatomy, Palynology, Ecology, Molecular biology.

 Zoological park

The Zoological parks are man-made places where animals are kept and are provided all the conditions similar to their natural habitat. In zoological parks, wild animals are kept in a protected environment under human care. That is why the Zoological parks are also known as Animal parks. It is estimated that India has about 72 zoological parks in India.


Museums are defined as centers of research, education, and exhibition. Museums are considered dynamic educational forces offering incalculable opportunities to all types of people. For study and reference, museums have collections of preserved plants and animals. In museums preservation is done in several ways such as jars and containers having a preservative solution, It contains Alcohol and formalin, along with that insects are killed, dried, and pinned in such boxes. Museums also preserve skeletons and large animals are stuffed and then preserved. Stuffing is done because the shape of the organism is maintained. All colleges and universities maintain museums in the botany and zoology departments.


   Importance or Functions of Museums

1. the specimens can be preserved for a longer duration by keeping them in chemical preservatives.

2. These provide first-hand information about the naming, characters, identification, and classification of the specimens preserved.

 4. The specimens that cannot be stored in Herbaria can be easily stored in Museums.

How do you write a Taxonomic key?

The concept of the Taxonomic key was first coined by John Ray. Taxonomic Keys are the devices that are used for the identification of plants and animals based on similarities or dissimilarities. In Taxonomic keys, the set of characters are arranged sequentially.

In Taxonomic keys, the set of characters are used in the form of pairs. The characters are called contrasting characters. The pair of contrasting characters represent Couplet. Each statement represents Lead, One of the Lead is accepted and the other is rejected. To understand the Taxonomic key let us take an example

Question: If there are five animals or organisms such as Frog, Fish, Bat, Cat, Bird and we have to identify animals based on taxonomic keys.

ANS: To identify animals based on Taxonomic keys we use certain characteristics, the first character which is used is the external ears, Either the external Ears are present or absent.

External ears are present: Bat, Cat.

External ears are absent: Fish, Frog, Bird

Wings are present: Bat, Bird

Wings are absent: Cat, Frog, Fish.

So we say that Taxonomic keys are a set of characters used for the identification of organisms.

         Types of Taxonomic keys

Punched card keys and dichotomous keys are the two sorts of keys.

Punched card keys: punched card keys are used in schools, colleges, etc by the students. Punched card keys consist of cards of suitable size with names of all taxa printed on each one of them. All the taxa represent that character are indicated by a perforation in front of their names, while those lacking this character are without any perforation.

Dichotomous keys: It is of two types

(A) Indented key and (B) Bracketed key

A.Intended key:  It is also called a Yoked key. The indented key is mainly used for the identification of vascular plants.

B.Bracketed key: It is called a Bracket key or Parallel key. A key in which contrasting parts of a couplet are numbered and presented together without intervening couplets, although the brackets joining each couplet are now omitted.

How do you write a Taxonomic key?

 In constructing key following techniques may be followed

1. The key should be dichotomous.

2. The two parts of the couplet must be made up of contradictory statements so that one part will apply and the other part will not be rejected.

3. Don’t use overlapping ranges in the couplet.

4. The couplets should be of the positive statement

5. Use the observable characters

6. Couplets of a key should be numbered or lettered or may use some combinations of lettering and numbering or may be left blank in the case of indented keys.

Flora in Taxonomy and its Utility

Flora is a book that gives information on the different types of plants present in a particular area. Flora provides information about the listing of plants in the defined geographical area. Flora may also be defined as a systematic account of plants of a defined geographical area and provides keys and descriptions of plants for identification. Example The Flora of Delhi written by J.K.Masheshwari  contains a list of all plants of Delhi.                                                                                                                         

Some of the important uses of Flora are as under

1. It is useful in Biodiversity evaluation and management.

2. Flora is useful in the development of the Botanical Garden and park.

3. It is used to identify plants.

4. It is also useful in the evaluation of rare and endangered species and vegetation studies.

5. Flora helps in the evaluation of phytogeography patterns.

6. It is used for college and university teachers, students of botany and agriculture.

Manual in Taxonomy

Manual which gives information about the listing of plants in a particular area and description of plants i.e characteristic features of plants. It gives information about a specific group of plants like a Manual of cultivated plants. Manual of Medicinal plants, Aquatic plants.

Monograph in Taxonomy

It may be defined as a Taxonomic Aid that gives information about a single group or single Taxon. Keys, descriptions, correct nomenclature, and even the evolution of the Taxon are all provided in monographic works. The monograph provides a total variation of Taxon, Biosystematic information, and intraspecific variation are studied in detail.

 Catalogue in Taxonomy

It accounts for the books of special libraries rich in botanical titles and is of especial value in taxonomic studies. The Catalogues give information about the listing of plants in the alphabetical arrangement of species. It also brief description of the characteristic features of species.

 Journal in Taxonomy

It is a Taxonomic Aid that is the result of ongoing research and it contains information on current research which is going to be published in Taxonomic Aid that is Journal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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