Biology 211 Image 

An introduction to the principles and practice of flowering plant taxonomy. Emphasis is placed on acquiring the facility to use appropriate terminology in order to identify plants, as well as understanding the historical context and investigative procedures of taxonomists in designing a classification. Of particular importance is gaining an understanding of the philosophical bases in taxonomy and the relevance of this field to other areas of biology. 



  • Learn vegetative and reproductive features and terminology that are useful in the identification of flowering plants.
  • Gain ability to use published keys for the identification of flowering plants.
  • Learn to recognize some of the common and unusual families of flowering plants in Maine.
  • Understand the principles of plant taxonomy, including evolutionary trends, patterns of speciation, biogeography, and floral biology.
  • Gain an understanding of the relationships between evolutionary mechanisms, evolutionary history, and the classification of organisms.
  • Develop an ability to critically examine the extent to which a classification system reflects relationships between organisms.


Web Resources for Use in this Course
NOTE: Fall 2005 BI211 is being taught by
Prof. Judy Stone. Her syllabus and schedule are not the same as found here (used in Fall 2004 by Prof. Phillips).
Prof. Stone and her students are free to use any appropriate
resources found here.


Goals for the course, exam schedule, plant collection requirements, and family recognition information. 


Lecture and laboratory schedule and reading assignments. 

Lecture/Lab Slides

Many of the computer images used in the lectures and laboratory are being placed on the web here for you to review.


Click here for a Microsoft Word document containing the sylabus and schedule. 

Click here for a Macintosh version of the polyclave key for flowering plant family identification. 

Click here for a Windows application (MEKA) that implements the polyclave key for flowering plant family identification.

Click here to download Macintosh software (MacClade 2.1) for cladistic analysis. 

Click here to download a MS Word document of blank herbarium labels. 

Guide to Flowering 
Plant Family 

This is a descriptive and photographic tour of some families in the Magnoliophyta. These still developing pages can help students learn to recognize on sight members of this course's 60 required flowering plant families. The Phylogenetic System of Classification is used. A link to the older Cronquist system is available. 

Flowering Plant
Family Key 

This is a polyclave key that allows you to select from among characteristics available in the specimen at hand, rather than following a sequence found in a traditional, dichotomous, printed key. It is especially useful if the specimen is fragmentary, as with archaeological or anthropological specimens, in which only part of a plant is represented. This key is world-wide in scope covering all flowering plants. Families do not always follow Cronquist, however, but recognize segregate families in many cases, thus effectively providing in some cases a key to subfamilies or below. 

Checklist of Vascular 
Plants Native and 
Naturalized in 
New England 

List of the 2,916 vascular plant taxa (species and infraspecific taxa) found within New England, as recorded in the USDA PLANTS database. State occurrences for each taxon are included. Be aware that some differences in nomenclature occur between this list and both Magee and Ahles’ Flora of the Northeast. A Manual of the Vascular Flora of New England and Adjacent New York, 1999 and Gleason and Cronquist's Manual of Vascular Plants of Notheastern United States and Adjacent Canada 2nd Edition, 1991.

Other Web Resources 

A variety of internet resources related to this course, biological systematics, and plant biology in general. 

Prof. Ray Phillips (Ray.Phillips at Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of Information Technology Services Colby College
Copyright Raymond B. Phillips 1995-2005