• Polypetalae:
    • Thalamiflorae.
    • Disciflorae.
    • Calyciflorae.
  • Gamopetalae:
    • Inferae.
    • Heteromerae.
    • Bicarpellatae.
  • Monochlamydeae in eight series.
  • Monocotyledons in seven series.

Of the Polypetalae, series 1, Thalamiflorae, is characterized by hypogynous petals and stamens, and contains 34 orders distributed in 6 larger groups or cohorts. Series 2, Disciflorae, takes its name from a development of the floral axis which forms a ring or cushion at the base of the ovary or is broken up into glands; the ovary is superior. It contains 23 orders in 4 cohorts. Series 3, Calyciflorae, has petals and stamens perigynous, or sometimes superior. It contains 27 orders in 5 cohorts.

Of the Gamopetalae, series 1, Inferae, has an interior ovary and stamens usually as many as the corolla-lobes. It contains 9 orders in 3 cohorts. Series 2, Heteromerae, has generally a superior ovary, stamens as many as the corolla-lobes or more, and more than two carpels. It contains 12 orders in 3 cohorts. Series 3, Bicarpellatae, has generally a superior ovary and usually two carpels. It contains 24 orders in 4 cohorts.

The eight series of Monochlamydeae, containing 36 orders, form groups characterized mainly by differences in the ovary and ovules, and are now recognized as of unequal value.

The seven series of Monocotyledons represent a sequence beginning with the most complicated epigynous orders, such as Orchideae and Scitamineae, and passing through the petaloid hypogynous orders (series Coronarieae) of which Liliaceae is the representative to Juncaceae and the palms (series Calycinae) where the perianth loses its petaloid character and thence to the Aroids, screw-pines and others where it is more or less aborted (series Nudiflorae). Series 6, Apocarpeae, is characterized by 5 carpels, and in the last series Glumaceae, great simplification in the flower is associated with a grass-like habit.

The sequence of orders in the polypetalous subdivision of Dicotyledons undoubtedly represents a progression from simpler to more elaborate forms, but a great drawback to the value of the system is the inclusion among the Monochlamydeae of a number of orders which are closely allied with orders of Polypetalae though differing in absence of a corolla. The German systematist, A. W. Eichler, attempted to remove this disadvantage which since the time of Jussieu had characterized the French system, and in 1883 grouped the Dicotyledons in two subclasses. The earlier Choripetalae embraces the Polypetalae and Monochlamydae of the French systems. It includes 21 series, and is an attempt to arrange as far as possible in a linear series those orders which are characterized by absence or freedom of petals. The second subclass, Gamopetalae, includes 9 series and culminates in those which show the most elaborate type of flower, the series Aggregatae, the chief representative of which is the great and wide-spread order Compositae. A modification of Eichler's system, embracing the most recent views of the affinities of the orders of Angiosperms, has been put forward by Dr. Adolf Engler of Berlin, who adopts the suggestive names Archichlamydeae and Metachlamydeae for the two subdivisions of Dicotyledons. Dr. Engler is the principal editor of a large series of volumes which, under the title Die naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien, is a systematic account of all the known genera of plants and represents the work of many botanists.

More recently in Das Pflanzenreich the same author organized a series of complete monographs of the families of seed-plants.

As an attempt at a phylogenetic arrangement, Engler's system is now preferred by many botanists. More recently a startling novelty in the way of system has been produced by van Tieghem, as follows:

  • Monocotyledons.
  • Liorhizal Dicotyledons.
  • Dicotyledons.
      • Unitegmineae.
      • Bitegmineae.

The most remarkable feature here is the class of Liorhizal Dicotyledons, which includes only the families of Nymphaeaceae and Gramineae. It is based upon the fact that the histological differentiation of the epidermis of their root is that generally characteristic of Monocotyledons, whilst they have two cotyledons - the old view of the epiblast as a second cotyledon in Gramineae being adopted. But the presence of a second cotyledon in grasses is extremely doubtful, and though there may be ground for reconsidering the position of Nymphaeaceae, their association with the grasses as a distinct class is not warranted by a comparative examination of the members of the two orders. Ovular characters determine the grouping in the Dicotyledons, van Tieghem supporting the view that the integument, the outer if there be two, is the lamina of a leaf of which the funicle is the petiole, whilst the nucellus is an outgrowth of this leaf, and the inner integument, if present, an indusium. The Insemineae include forms in which the nucellus is not developed, and therefore there can be no seed. The plants included are, however, mainly well-established parasites, and the absence of nucellus is only one of those characters of reduction to which parasites are liable.

Even if we admit van Tieghem's interpretation of the integuments to be correct, the diagnostic mark of his unitegminous and bitegminous groups is simply that of the absence or presence of an indusium, not a character of great value elsewhere, and, as we know, the number of the ovular coats is inconstant within the same family. At the same time the groups based upon the integuments are of much the same extent as the Polypetalae and Gamopetalae of other systems. We do not yet know the significance of this correlation, which, however, is not an invariable one, between number of integuments and union of petals.

Within the last few years Prof. John Coulter and Dr. C. J. Chamberlain of Chicago University have given a valuable general account of the morphology of Angiosperms as far as concerns the flower, and the series of events which ends in the formation of the seed (Morphology of Angiosperms, Chicago, 1903).


The reader will find in the following works details of the subject and references to the literature: Bentham and Hooker, Genera Plantarum (London, 1862-1883); Eichler, Bluthendiagramme (Leipzig, 1875-1878); Engler and Prantl, Die naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien (Leipzig, 1887-1899); Engler, Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien, 3rd ed. (Berlin, 1903); Knuth, Handbuch der Blutenbiologie (Leipzig, 1898, 1899); Sachs, History of Botany, English ed. (Oxford, 1890); Solereder, Systematische Anatomie der Dicotyledonen (Stuttgart, 1899); van Tieghem, Elements de botanique; Coulter and Chamberlain, Morphology of Angiosperms (New York, 1903).

(I. B. B.; A. B. R.)