The aim and scope of plant morphology—I
The study of plant form may be said to have four main aspects which are 1. verbal description of form, 2. classification of form, 3. genesis of form and 4. relation between form and function. While the first three aspects represent true and meaningful study of morphology, functional bias to morphology does not seem to have any purposeful validity.
Goethe’s concept that the root, stem and leaf constituted the fundamental organs of the angiosperm plant body, was the principal source of pre-evolutionary ideas of formal morphology comprising modification of organs, axial and appendicular nature, and homology and analogy, all of which helped to integrate the mass of descriptive accounts of angiosperm morphology in a meaningful way. The advent of the theory of organic evolution, necessitated the explanation of the ideas of formal morphology in terms of the concepts of evolution. Although some of the ideas of formal morphology could lend themselves to this, the basic differences in their approach, scope and content are not easily reconcilable. Nevertheless, the superficial similarity between them has led post-evolutionary authors to mix these two more or less indiscriminately, and this has perhaps brought discredit to both.
KeywordsPlant morphology organic evolution
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