Botany in a Day
The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Parsley Family Slideshow: Notice the pattern of similarity among these different species of the same family. (If the slideshow doesn’t appear then try a newer browser.)
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“Many people are familiar with the square stems and opposite leaves of the plants in the Mint Family. I like to start my classes with a discussion of the mints because this pattern is so well known.
“What people don’t realize is that similar patterns exist for other families of plants as well. You only need to learn about 100 broad patterns to recognize something about virtually every plant from coast to coast across the northern latitudes.
“In a two hour plant walk we typically start with the Mint Family, then progress through the Mustard, Pea, Parsley, Borage, Lily, and Aster Families, so that every student can easily recognize these common families representing several thousand species.
I’ve had people tell me they learned more in that two hour walk than in an entire semester of botany in college.”
–Thomas J. Elpel, Author