Systematic Botany - James Eckenwalder
January 22, 2013
*today's lecture and thursday's lecture are switched
• Folk Taxonomy/Ancients (to 1st Century AD until Present)
• Apothecaries (2nd to 15th)
• Herbalists (16th)
Scientific Taxonomy (17th)
• Encyclopedists (18th)
• Natural Systems (19th)
• Evolutionary Systems (20th)
• Phylogenetic Systems (21st)
• Every language incorporates a type of classification system.
We also have views on grouping things.
• Brent Berlin was exploring individual folk taxonomy based on different languages. He worked
with Mayan people of Chiapas, specifically Tzetal speakers.
• Ethnobotany is the study of people and plants, specifically traditional societies in relation to
• One is more emic and one is more etic.
• Etic ethnobotany is more economic botany. Emic ethnobotany is more linguistic botany.
Linguistic ethnobotanists were interested in how people think and how people look at the world.
These people would look more closely at the names that people gave to plants. People are more
aware to things that are more salient, or important to them.
• Folk biological classification systems were hierarchical, more or less inclusive groups that
were nested within each other. There was a fairly standardized pattern. Most were founded on
single word names (generic). These names were unanalyzable primary lexemes (a single word
that can't be broken down). These folk generics had primacy and were the first elements of
• For organisms that had some cultural significance, they might be subdivided into folk specifics.
Folk specifics took on secondary lexemes (ex. An adjective that modified the primary lexeme).
• For really important plants (cultivated plants), there were folk varietals and were known as
Life forms are umbrella words that categorize morphological groups of animals. Most cultures
have similar basic life forms. Almost all the time, those life forms represented a folk generic
name that was elevated to the life form level.
• An example would be tree, coming from the root drys which means oak tree.
• If one is asked whether there are groups branching from tree, they will give intermediate
forms which are also primary lexemes. There are labelled and unlabeled (trees that we
know belong in on