Classification of trees

Thomas Merchant tm37 at
Tue Apr 1 11:28:26 EST 1997

>Bob Weber wrote:
>> I am an amatuer naturalist with more than an average knowledge of
>> plants.  Someone recently asked me how trees should properly be
>> classified.  My answer was by leaf types or possibly as gymnosperms or
>> angiosperms. This person thought that trees should be classified as
>> either deciduous or evergreen.  However, I wasn't comfortable with that
>> description.  Can anyone help me?

Technically, trees should properly CLASSIFIED as are all plants: by
their reproductive structures. At least for their scientific naming
and placement within the system of biological classification.

However, there are many other classifications outside of that of
biological classifications. It all depends on how you want to use it.
The use of flowering structures for IDENTIFICATION purposes when the
plant, or tree, is not in bloom, is useless. Or if the differences in
flowering structures requires an electron microscope. If your purpose
is for IDENTIFICATION, and not scientific classification, then trees
are best identified by leaves, bark, branching and buds.

Which reminds me of something that a visitor to a National Park once
asked a Park naturalist: "What type of tree makes up these forests?"
The naturalist replied "Well there are several type of oak, hickory,
pine, and ..." "NO," replied the visitor, "tree, not trees. I only see
one type of tree!"

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