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.)?


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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