Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Trees : Interesting Terms

Lets learn some interesting terminology regarding tree habits.

Trees are the biggest plants with prominent woody trunks which usually give rise to branches above.
Among them include following:
(1) Caudex: Usually does not branch at all. The lateral buds on the tall columnar trunk are dormant or dead. On the top there is a crown of leaves. This is the habit of Palms. They may branch only abnormally. An unbranched stem like this may also be called columnar. (Fig. 87)

(2) Excurrent : In this the main stem grows indefinitely and the side branches develop in a strict acropetal order e.g. Polyalthia logifolia (Ashoka tree or Mast tree), Casuarina and Pine.

(3) Deliquescent : In this the tree is weaker than the strong lateral buds and very often, it is destroyed at some phase of its life so that the tree has a spreading habit as in banyans and many common trees. (Fig. 89.)



Root   Organ of a plant that develops initially from the radicle, grows  down into the soil,   and functions for absorption and anchorage.

Stem    Organ of a plant that develops initially from the epicotyl, grows mostly above the ground, and functions for support and conduction.

Leaf  Produced from the  buds  on  the  stem,  the  leaves  are  photosynthetic  and  transpiring organs of the plant. They are usually green and expanded, and have a wide range of  forms.

Bud    An undeveloped, vegetative or floral shoot, covered with protective scales, or consisting of a short axis bearing primordia of leaves or floral parts.

Flower Reproductive structure of angiosperms, consisting usually of sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. After fertilization the ovules of flower develop into seeds.

        Fruit Mature ovary of flowering                     plants containing the seeds.

            Seed    Fertilized ripe ovule of                        flowering plants.


One of the important purposes of the study of External Morphology is to be able to describe a plant completely and correctly.
Without such a description it is not possible to identify a plant and to ascertain its place in the plant kingdom, i.e. to assign it to its family, genus, species etc.
To describe a plant a student should follow the scheme given below. It will be seen that to make his description accurate, the student will have to exercise all his knowledge of Morphology.
Habitat: Locality with latitude, longitude and altitude. The natural climatic and edaphic environment of the plant, namely aquatic or terrestrial, type of soil or rock (sandy, calcareous, etc.), bright sunshine, shade, desert conditions, etc.
Habit: Epiphyte, parasite, etc.; herb, shrub, tree, climber; annual, biennial, perennial; succulent, woody, deciduous, evergreen; size, etc., general characters of the whole plant.
Root: Tap, adventitious, or any special type etc.
Stem: Characters not included under habit.
 Surface of stem – glabrous, hairy, etc.
Colour of stem.
Shape – round, square, ribbed, etc.
Hollow or solid, jointed or not.
Any special modification – phylloclade, etc.
Leaf:   Phyllotaxy.
Insertion – radical or cauline, petiolate or sessile, peltate, etc.
Simple or compound – type of compound.
Leaf base – stipulate or exstipulate, kind of stipule, any                                            speciality.
Petiole – any speciality.
Leaf lamina – shape, venation, margin, incision, apex, base, surface, texture, glands, colour, odour and taste.
Modifications and specialities (ligule, stipel, heterophylly, etc.)
Inflorescence: Type – racemose, cymose, etc.
General:   Bracteate or ebracteate – type of bract.
Bracteole – if any.
Sessile or pedicellate.
Complete or incomplete – dichlamydeous, monochlamydeous, achlamydeous, etc.
Bisexual or unisexual – monoecious, dioecious, etc.
Symmetry – regular, zygomorphic or assymetrical.
Floral phyllotaxy – cyclic, spiral, hemicyclic.
Insertion – hypogynous, perigynous, epigynous.
Erect, pendulous, etc.
Any speciality – disc, nectary, etc.
Thalamus: Any speciality not included under flower.
Calyx: Cohesion – polysepalous or gamosepalous.
Number of sepals or lobes.
Superior or inferior.
Calyx shape – sepal shape.
Size (of calyx and sepals).
Duration – caduceus, deciduous, persistent.
Any speciality (modification, appendage, etc.)
Corolla: Cohesion – polysepalous or gamosepalous.
Number of petals or lobes.
Superior, inferior.
Corolla shape (regular or irregular) – petal shape.
Size – corolla and petals.
Colour, duration, texture, scent.
Perianth: (When calyx and corolla cannot be distinguished).
Sepaloid or petaloid.
Other characters as in calyx and corolla.
Androecium: cohesion – in filament, in anther, in both.
Number – fertile and sterile ones as also separate whorls separately counted.
Adhesion – with corolla or gynoecium.
Superior or inferior.
Filament – any outgrowth, sessile or not, length.
Anther – attachment of filament, dehiscence, introrse or extrorse, number of pollen sacs, appendages.
Pollen- powdery, etc; appearance; pollinia.
Speciality – didynamous, etc.; obdiplostemonous, etc.; exserted or inserted; nectaries, etc.
Gynoecium: Cohesion – apocarpous, syncarpous, etc.
Adhesion – with Androecium.
Ovary – shape, number of loculii, placentation, superior or inferior.
Style – number; free or united; terminal, lateral, gynobasic, etc.; shape; size; colour; any peculiarity.
Stigma – number; sessile or not; shape – simple, lobed, branched, etc.; smooth or papillose; any speciality.
Ovule: number; number in each loculus; ascending, horizontal, etc., anatropous, campylotropous, etc.
Any speciality in the gynoecium.
Floral Diagram & Floral Formula.
Pollination: Type if observed.
Fruit: True or false; dry or fleshy; dehiscent or indehiscent.
Type of fruit, manner of dehiscence (if dehiscent).
Any speciality (edible, poisonous, etc.; which part edible).
Seeds: Number of seeds in fruit.
Morphology – perisperm, endosperm (nature of food reserve), embryo.
Size and shape.
Any speciality (aril, etc.)
Manner of germination.
Method of dispersal.

·       Any description should be accompanied by neat and representative labelled sketches/diagrams/figures.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Bennettitalean Theory

The Bennettitalean theory was first proposed by Saporta and Marion (1885), later on elaborated by Arber and Parkin (1907). Bennettitales is the extinct group of gymnosperms which existed long back in the Mesozoic era. These investigators worked out the similarities between the stromboli of the Bennettitalean plant Cycadeoidea dacotensis and flowers of the primitive angiosperm Magnolia. Both these structures are bisexual, and have an elongated axis having protective bracts, microsporophyll’s and megasporophylls, arranged successively from below upwards.

However, in spite of these superficial resemblances, further studies have shown several differences, which are as follows:

1.In Magnolia, the microsporophyll’s (stamens) are free and are spirally arranged on the axis, whereas in Bennettitales they are whorled and mostly connate.
2. In Bennettitales, the megasporophylls are greatly reduced, simplified stalk-like structures, each bearing a solitary terminal erect ovule. Between megasporophylls, there are sterile scales (inter-seminal scales), which are protective in function. No such structures are present in the flowers of Magnolia.
3. The micropylar tube formed in the ovules of Bennettitales are absent in the angiosperms and the pollen grains are shed on the stigma of the carpel (megasporophyll).

4. The seeds of Magnolia and other primitive angiosperms are with copious endosperm and small embryo while those of Bennettitales are non-endospermic with a large embryo.

5.In the bennettitalean stem there is a large pith, a thin vascular cylinder and a thick cortex, while the angiosperm stem has a small pith, a thick vascular cylinder and a thin cortex.

These differences indicate that Bennettitales cannot be considered as the ancestors of angiosperms. The similarities with angiosperms, most probably, might have resulted due to a common ancestry and parallel evolution. Arber and Parkin have postulated that the two groups did have a common origin from seed ferns and they might have diverged very early.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Botanical Gardens

What are botanical gardens ?
Botanical gardens are the institutions that maintain the living plant collections of different varieties of plants.
They include ornamental, cultivated, wild, medicinal, economically important, plants of various geographical regions, of special interests.
A big botanical garden contains plant species from several corners of the globe.
It also includes greenhouses, a library, a herbarium, research labs, photographs, paintings, illustrations, reprints, notebooks and specimens of several types.

So botanical garden is not only a garden but a botanical institution.
Modern botanical gardens act as centres for documentation, research, reference, data storage, education, conservation etc.
At present there are more than 600 botanical gardens in the world.

 Major Botanical Gardens of the world:
1. The New York Botanical Garden:
        This garden contains 50 different gardens and plant collections. Garden highlights include an 1890s-vintage, wrought-iron framed, “crystal-palace style” greenhouse; the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden; a rock garden; a 37-acre conifer collection; extensive research facilities including a propagation centre, 550,000-volume library, and an herbarium of over seven million botanical specimens dating back more than three centuries.

2. Royal Bot garden, Sydney, Australia: 
The Royal Botanic Gardens is a major botanical garden located in the heart of Sydney, Australia. Opened in 1816, the garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia and one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world. Its stunning position on Sydney Harbour and immediately adjacent to the Sydney Opera House ensure it is one of the most stunning gardens in the world.
Covering 74 acres, the Garden forms a large natural amphitheatre, wrapped around the ‘stage’ of Farm Cove. It’s divided into four major areas called the Lower Gardens, the Middle Gardens, the Palace Gardens and the Bennelong precinct. Within the four major zones are many smaller gardens and features as well as large amounts of lightly wooded lawn areas.

3. Singapore Bot Garden, Singapore:
Founded in 1859, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 183-acre botanical garden in Singapore.
The National Orchid Garden is the main attraction, with the hilly three-hectare site holding a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids. The Singapore Botanic Gardens has a small tropical rainforest of around six hectares in size, which is older than the gardens themselves and is in fact one of only 2 tropical rainforests found within a major city, the other being in Rio de Janeiro.
Other attractions include an evolution garden, a ginger garden, wild monkeys, terrapins and much more.

4. Kirstenbosch Bot Garden, South Africa:

Located at the foot of Table Mountain, this 89 acres garden was founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique flora. It’s one of the few botanical gardens in the world that only cultivate indigenous plants with the botanical garden established for the express purpose of local flora conservation, and even now, almost all the species therein are indigenous. Perhaps most famous is the garden’s trademark Crane Flower, a yellow version of which is named Mandela’s Gold.
The garden includes a large conservatory exhibiting plants from a number of different regions, including savanna, fynbos, karoo and others. Outdoors, the focus is on plants native to the Cape region, highlighted by the spectacular collections of proteas.

5. Botanischer Garten Munchen, Munich , Germany:
Munich’s first botanical garden, now called the “old botanical garden”, was established in 1809 to designs by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell near Karlsplatz, where its remains are still visible.
The garden cultivates around 14,000 species on 18 hectares, and serves to educate the public and train students, as well as preserve rare plants and European bee species. Major areas include an alpine garden, arboretum, collection of moor and steppe plants, rhododendrons, rose garden, and systematic garden.
The garden also contains an extensive greenhouse complex, including rooms for bromeliads and arecaceae, cactus and succulents, cycads, ferns, orchids, and Mexican plants. The orchid collection includes over 2700 species from 270 genera, as well as hybrids. Featuring the Great Pavilion, which is the largest glasshouse in the world and contains an exhibit of giant bamboo.

6. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England:
The number one botanical gardens had to be the biggest, Kew Royal Gardens in London, England.
Kew Gardens is the world’s largest collection of living plants. Founded in 1840 from the exotic garden at Kew Park in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, UK, its collections include more than 30,000 different species of plants, while the herbarium has over seven million preserved plant specimens.
With over 320 acres of landscapes and gardens, including a soaring treetop walkway, 18 metres high and 200 metres long, tropical glasshouses, art galleries, a serene lake and waterlily pools.
Kew’s glasshouses provide hours of undercover discoveries. With amazing giant lily pads in the Waterlily House, exotic rainforests in the Palm House, and 10 climatic zones in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. While Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens allows you to discover Kew’s history and explore a beautiful Georgian royal retreat.
One of the most interesting features of the garden is the Davies Alpine House, an eco-friendly building that houses cool weather plants without the use of refrigeration, instead relying on a series of underground pipes to maintain the appropriate climate.

1. Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata:
This famous botanical garden which is the largest and oldest of its kind in India, and considered to be the oldest botanical garden in South East Asia, is located at Shibpur near Kolkata, on the west bank of the river Hooghly.

It was founded by Lt. Col. Robert Kyd in 1787, with an aim to establish a stock of plants which may be disseminated and prove beneficial to the inhabitants, rather than with a purpose of collecting rare plants as things of mere curiosity or furnishing articles for the gratification of luxury.

2. National Botanical Garden, Lucknow:

This garden situated on the banks of river Gomti, was established in 1789, by the emperor Nawab Sadat Ali Khan. It was named as Sikander Bagh by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, in remembrance of his beloved wife Begum Sikander Mahal.
It was later converted into a Botanical Garden in 1946 with Professor K.N. Kaul as its first director and is now known as the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, which is one of the numerous national laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. It also has a sub-centre at Banthra, about 20 kms. from Lucknow, covering an area of 120 hectares, where economic plants are grown on large scale.
The main garden covers an area of 30 hectares and is famous for its Palm house, Fern house, Rosarium, Cactus house, Orchid house, orchards of mango, guava and Citrus and medicinal plants section. Attached with this garden are a herbarium, library and laboratories carrying on extensive research in various fields of Botany.

3. Lalbagh or The Mysore State Botanical Garden, Bangalore:

This is the best botanical garden in South India, which was named Lalbagh by Hyder Ali in 1760 because of its beautiful rose garden and red flowers. Its first director was Major Waugh (1799- 1819), who introduced a number of exotic plants from various countries into this garden. Later, this garden was converted into a proper botanical garden in 1856 and Rao Bahadur H.C. Jayaraja was its first Indian director.
This garden is now famous for its beautiful layout and as a big centre of horticultural activities. It has a grape orchard, economic garden, a herbal garden, a tropical nursery and well-equipped laboratories for seed testing and soil testing.

4. Government botanical garden, Ooty:
Government botanical garden located in Udamangalam in Tamil Nadu which is famous for huge collection of roses. This garden is considered as the largest garden for roses in India. About three hundred varieties of roses are grown in this garden.  Colorful Nilgiri birds are seen in this garden. There are many lawns consisting thousands of species of exotic plants, shrubs, trees and bonsai plants.
The total area covered is about 22 hectares. Visit the garden in the frosty months  from November to February. You can see cork tree, paper bark tree, monkey puzzle tree in this garden. The garden is divided in to 6 parts and each section have variety of things to view. There is a fossil tree trunk which is 20 million years old. The famous flower show occurs once in an year and usually in may month.

Role of Botanical Gardens:
1. Taxonomic Studies:
Botanical gardens provide valuable information on various plants Local flora, bonsai, rare plants etc. They act as “outdoor laboratories” for students and researchers.
2. Botanical Research:
Botanical gardens supply wide range of plant species, seeds, flowers, fruits for botanical research.
3. Conservation:
Botanical gardens conserve and propagate rare species and genetic diversity.
4. Education:
They supply facilities for courses in local flora, horticulture, hybridization, plant propagation, etc. There educational programmes include workshops, training sessions for teachers, students, naturalists etc.
5. Public Services.
They help the public in identifying the local and exotic plant species; provide instructions for home gardening’s, propagation of plants; supply plant resource;, through sale or exchange.
6. Aesthetics and Recreation:
They attract people who have made gardening their hobby.
7. Employment:
They create job opportunities for a large number of young botanists.
Thank You

Sunday, 18 December 2016


Luca Ghini (1490-1556) of Italy started art of herbarium making by pressing and sewing specimens on sheets of paper
n1. Digger/Trowel & Pruning Knife/Shear
2. Vasculum: Container-useful for handling & keeping the specimens fresh before pressing them.
3. Field Notebook
4. Plant press & Folders
It involves a series of operations, such as collection, pressing, drying and poisoning, mounting and stitching, labelling, filling and deposition.
nPlant specimen should bear flowers and fruits, if present.
nHerbaceous small plant specimen should be collected with roots or other underground parts.
nA twig of about 25cm with leaves & flowers, will form an ideal material.
nNote sheet’s no. & data recorded in the field notebook
nSoon after the specimens are collected, they should be pressed in the field itself.

Specimens should be carefully placed in the centre on the pressing sheets. If specimens are large enough, they should be bent giving them shape of V, N or W. The bundles should be uniform in thickness in the middle & on the sides. Specimens should be kept one above the other.
          For effective drying, drying papers are replaced by fresh ones. Changing of papers is repeated everyday for about fortnight, or until the plant specimens appear perfectly dried. In the humid climate, the changing of papers is done twice a day to have good results.
    Artificial heat may be given if the weather is too humid.
      The standard size of a herbarium sheet is 29 x42 cm. They are usually made of durable card sheets. The dried specimens are glued on herbarium sheets and the stem/branches can be stitched/glued with cellophane tapes. It is advisable to mount one specimen on each herbarium sheet. Dissected & loose parts, such as flowers, fruits & seeds, are kept in paper packets & pasted to the mounted sheet.  
nName of organization with which specimen plant originated.
nName of the family
nBotanical name of the plant
nLocal name
nLocality of collection
nDate of collection
nHabitat of the plant
nField notes & collection no.
nName of collector

nPlant specimens, which have been properly mounted & identified, are filled systematically in special wooden/steel cabinets.
nThe herbarium sheets loaded with specimens are filed inside folders which are of various colour schemes indicating species, genus, family, geographical area, etc.
nnPlants are arranged & stored following Bentham & Hooker’s / Engler & Prantl’s system of classification.
nA periodical fumigation with chemicals & repoisoning them by brushing with solution of HgCl2 & using insect repellents would save the herbarium from damage & check the loss of valuable plants.

Major Herbaria of World:
nUnder mentioned is the list of some major herbaria of the world, along with the number of their specimen holdings as worked out by Holmgren et al. (1981):
n1. Museum of Natural History, Paris…………………………………………………………………………. 10million
n2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew……………………………… 6 million
n3. Komarov Botanical Institute Leningrad……………………………………………………………….. 5.7 million
n4. Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Geneva……………………………………………………… 5 million
n5. Combined Herbaria, Harvard University, Cambridge……………………………………….. 5 million
n6. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx……………………………………………………………………… 5 million
n7. U.S. National Herbarium, Washington……………………….. 4.1 million
n8. British Museum of Natural History, London……………….. 4 million
n9. Natural History Museum, Vienna………………………………………………………………………… 3.5 million
n10. Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis………………… 2 .1million

Major Herbaria in India:
nAccording to Naik (1984), Tiagi & Kshetrapal (1988):
n1. The Central National Herbarium, Kolkata, WB---25,00,000 specimens
n2. Herbarium of Forest Research Institute, Dehradun—15,00,000
n3. BSI Eastern Circle Herbarium, Shillong---10,00,000
n4. BSI Southern Circle Herbarium, Coimbatore—1,75,000
n5. BSI Western Circle Herbarium, Pune ---50,000
n6. BSI Northern Circle Herbarium, Dehradun – 42,000
n6. BSI Central Circle Herbarium, Alahabad – 45,000
n7. Blatter Herbarium, Mumbai   --- 100,000
n8. National Botanical Garden Herbarium, Lucknow---80,000
n9. Herbarium of Delhi University, Delhi   ----- 15,000
n10. Herbarium of Dept of Botany, Dr. BAMU, Aurangabad---200,000


nTo act as a repository of dried plant specimens, safeguard them against loss & destruction by fungi, insects, etc. & make them available for study.
nSeveral herbaria of repute, keep Type Specimens-the principal proof of the existence of a species, in safe custody, often in rooms with restricted access.
nAs original documents upon which knowledge of taxonomic characters rests, herbarium specimens greatly help in developing floras, manuals & monographs.
nThose engaged in taxonomic studies, can personally identify their engaged collection by comparison with already identified herbarium specimens.
nVoucher specimens preserved in various herbaria, provide an index of specimens on which studies on chromosomes, phytochemistry, ultrastructure micro-morphology, etc. have been undertaken.
nMost herbaria have specimens collected from different parts of the world &, thus their scrutiny can provide information on the geographical distribution of taxa.