TKOP - Plant Taxonomy


Gramineae Welcome.

This is a journal about the creation of The Kingdom Of Plants series of stories for middle readers and the various areas of inspiration that feed the story's development.

As this is the first post I wanted to write a little about the origins of The Kingdom Of Plants story.

I have had this idea for a story involving plants for some time (actually an embarassingly long time). I'm not a scientist but I love plants and feel because they are "quiet" parts of our world that they have the potential to be overlooked.

But if you take the time to look at them, to really look at them, then you begin to understand how powerful they are, not to mention beautiful.

I must admit that, although I love their quiet beauty and power, there is another reason I love plants - taxonomy. Bet you weren't expecting that, huh?

Taxonomy Of Vascular Plants by LawrenceWhen I was about 18 and in the prime of my environmental, seed collecting, revegetation days I picked up a copy of Taxonomy Of Vascular Plants by George H.M Lawrence in a local second hand bookstore. This bookstore was not your average mass market paperback dust bowl. The man who owned it had done so for decades and over that time had collected many tomes with (it must be admitted) varying degrees of relevance but all the books within came with a certain literary or artistic merit. Being full of antiquarian books the shop also smelled divine!

Taxonomy of Vascular Plants for example had been published in 1951 and therefore had very little scientific use today because many of the classification names and families had changed.

But to me, the book was an absolute gift. I have kept it close for over 20 years - no doubt it will be one of the last physical possessions I dispose of in my lifetime.

If it was so useless to science what made it so special to me? Apart from its sturdy 1950s construction (this thing will outlast the cockroaches) it contained line drawings of the biological makeup of plants as well as listing the characteristics which separated different plants into specific families, genera and species - What they had in common with other plants in that family and how they differed.

To be honest, I don't know why plant classification excites me. I could never, ever sit through a lecture (let alone 3-5 years of university) on the wonders of plant science at a cellular level but this old, irrelevant book has entranced me for decades. It could be the origins of plant names, the discovery of new species and the innovations of Carl Linnaeus. It could be the use of latin names that entices me and the concept that most plant names have alternate (read: secret!) meanings.

Discovering this book sparked my interpretation of the physical nature of plants into word form. Plants could be written, read and spoken. Naturally, story ideas followed.

More to come.