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At the beginning of the 20th century, Raunkiær proposed a typology of plant life-forms based on where they bear their buds, roughly as:

cryptophytes: belowground

hemicryptophytes: at the surface

chamaephytes: close to the surface

phanerophytes: projected above the surface

Are these still held to be useful / biologically meaningful categories? Is there a different typology preferred (eg. tree/shrub/subshrub)? Or are people moving toward gradients of quantified traits instead of typologies (eg. measuring plant height, specific leaf area, etc.)?

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Oreotrephes, it all depends on the needs. Reproductive schemas don't exclude shape schemas. There has been, however, a shift to cladistics in classification, which means to give scientific names ONLY to monophyletic groups, i.e. groups that include all the descendants of a single ancestor - and only its descendants. But we still use tree/shrub distinction and epiphytes, for instance, but that's to describe the ecology of species, helping identify them, not to classify them on these grounds alone.

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