Botany/Plant morphology

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Chapter 6. Plant Morphology

Introduction edit

Plant morphology is the study of the external structure or form of plants. The concept was put in circulation by the author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in the early 1800s. You have already covered important aspects of plant morphology in the previous chapters on plant organs (leaves, stems, roots), flowers, and fruits. Those chapters emphasized both plant anatomy (the internal structure) and plant morphology (the external form) of specific parts or organs. Here, we will be concerned especially with the various growth forms that plants take and how such morphologies contribute to the success of each species.

A branching lichen - a 'plant' form called fruticose

Simple plant forms edit

The forms taken by simpler "plants" (e.g., algae) will be considered in greater detail in Section II of The Guide. However, lichens offer a good general introduction to basic plant forms in a group whose members are sometimes informally classified on the basis of morphology.

  • Read Lichens (You need not follow links except to clarify unfamiliar terms)

Imagine an early earth, with most life in the oceans, but the beginnings of terrestrial life represented by primitive photoautotrophic organisms spread over rocky surfaces. In the seas, the autotrophs would be floating forms and encrusting slimes, or calcareous rich crusts.

When we think about the evolution of more complex forms, even within such groups that today appear rather primitive such as the multicellular algae, we need to consider what forces were operating on the mechanism of natural selection to drive evolution in certain directions. We must also always be mindful of realistic limitations.

When you previously read the article on algae, you may recall the following description of life forms of these simple "plants": Most algae are unicellular, flagellates or amoeboids, but colonial and non-motile forms have developed independently among several of the algal groups. The more common organizational levels beyond unicellular forms are:

Colonial – small, regular groups of (usually) motile cells
Capsoid – individual non-motile cells embedded in a common mucilage
Coccoid – individual non-motile cells with adherent cell walls
Palmelloid – non-motile cells embedded in common mucilage
Filamentous – a string of non-motile cells connected on end together and sometimes branching
Parenchymatous – cells forming a thallus with partial differentiation of tissues

Complex plant forms edit

  • Read Trees (You need follow links only to clarify unfamiliar terms)
  • Read Shrubs (You need follow links only to clarify unfamiliar terms)

External Resource edit

From the earliest times itself plants have been classified as herbs, shrubs and or trees. Reference-Morphology of Plants. By S.R. Mishra, Published by Discovery Publishing House, 2004 ISBN 817141821X, 9788171418213

Herbs read Herbs at Wikipedia

Botany Study Guide ~ Wiki Contents Table
Section I

Chapter 1 - Introduction ~ Chapter 2 - Plant cells
Chapter 3 - Plant Tissues ~ Chapter 4 - Plant Organs
Chapter 5 - Plant Reproduction ~ Chapter 6 - Plant Morphology