An integral for success in your own business; in virtually all fields of horticulture.
This course lays the foundation for building such knowledge, and as such gives you a skill which has been and always will be in high demand in this industry.
Horticulturists work with hundreds, if not thousands of different plants, throughout their careers.
The better more know and understand the differences between those plants, the better they will do their job; and the more successful they will be.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
There are several ways of classifying plants. Different texts that you read will classify conifers in different manners, particularly in terms of the higher or uppermost levels. There appears to be much greater consistency between the different systems at the lower levels of classification (i.e. family, genus & species).
In many texts, particularly older ones, conifers are classified in a plant division called the "Gymnospermae” which are more commonly called the Gymnosperms. This term means literally "naked seed' and these plants are seed producing plants where the seeds are not enclosed in an ovary. The most familiar sub-group of the gymnosperms are the conifers. This classification refers to the way in which conifer species produce ovules (which will become seeds once fertilized) as exposed immature cones or flowers. Other gymnosperms include cycads and the Gingko.
In more recent times the gymnosperms have commonly been split into four separate plant divisions as follows (although the general term gymnosperms is still commonly used as a collective for these four divisions):
KINGDOM PLANTAE (The Plant Kingdom)
SUB KINGDOM DIVISION
Bryophytes Bryophyta (bryophytes)
Seedless vascular plants Psilophyta (psilopods)
Seed Plants Cycadophyta (cycads)
These are the cycads. Cycads have an appearance like palms, but unlike palms they do not flower. They have sluggish cambial growth, pinnately compound, palm like or fernlike leaves, and they produce a cone in the centre of their crown (not unlike a conifer cone). Cycads are mainly subtropical southern hemisphere plants, though there are some which come from other areas. There are about 10 genera and about 100 species.
Containing only one species (Gingko biloba), which has considerable cambial growth, fan-shaped leaves, ovules and seeds exposed, with the seed coats fleshy. This species is commonly included loosely as a conifer in many gardening texts.
This is an isolated group of plants of three genera: Gnetum, Ephedra and Welwitschia which contain about 70 species. They are not commonly grown.
These are the conifers. Most are trees, and most are from cooler climates, however there are also some tropical species. They have active cambial growth and simple leaves. There are about 50 genera and 550 species (plus thousands of cultivars).
Conifer Families and Genera
Evergreen trees & shrubs, from Sth Hemisphere, broad or needle-like foliage.
Two genera in this family: Agathis, Araucaria
Evergreen trees or shrubs with narrow, erect, evergreen leaves, similar to Taxus.
One genus in this family: Cephalotaxus
Usually heavily branching plants, trees or shrubs, upright or spreading, leaves in whorls or 3 (occasionally 4). Genera in this family include: Actinostrobus, Callitris, Calocedrus (Incense Cedar), Chamaecyparis, Cupressus, Diselma, Fitzroya, Fokienia, Juniperus, Libocedrus, Microbiota, Neocallitropsis, Papuacedrus, Sabina, Tetraclinis, Thuja, Thujopsis, Widdringtonia
Shrubs, twiggy growth with sparse foliage. One genus in this family: Ephedra
Mainly trees, occasionally shrubs, usually with needle like foliage, from Northern hemisphere. Genera in this family include: Abies, Cathaya, Cedrus, Keteleeria, Larix, Picea, Pinus, Pseudotsuga, Pseudolarix, Tsuga
Evergreen trees & shrubs; flattened, scale or needle-like foliage.
Genera in this family include: Acmopyle, Dacrydium, Microcachrys, Microstrobos, Phyllocladus, Podocarpus
Genera in this family include: Amentotaxus, Austrotaxus, Pseudotaxus, Taxus, Torreya
Tall trees, evergreen or deciduous, foliage usually arranged spirally around stems.
Genera in this family include: Athrotaxis, Cryptomeria, Cunninghamia, Glyptostrobus, Metasequoia, Sciadopitys, Taiwania, Sequoia, Sequoiadendron, Taxodium
Low growing plants with a short woody stem, long leathery strap-like leaves.
One genus in this family: Welwitschia
Many conifer species are very hardy, and can survive climatic conditions. Their softwood that is easily worked, and the fast growth of some species make some conifers very valuable for their timber. While many large conifer plantations exist solely for the production of softwood products, increasingly landowners are applying agroforestry concepts to their farming practices as the benefits of such versatility comes to be better understood.
In addition, there are a huge number of conifer cultivars in an amazing array of colours, sizes, and shapes for use as ornamentals.
HOW THIS COURSE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
After this course, you will be able to look at any plant, growing anywhere in the world; and most of the time, notice things about that plant which will indicate the plants it is most likely related to; and the way in which that plant should probably be propagates, pruned, fertilised, watered, and treated in many other ways.
When you develop a 'systematic' understanding of how different plants are classified, you then have a foundation that enables you to make very important 'educated guesses' about what plants are and how to treat them.
You cannot learn these things by simply reading a book or listening to an hour or two of lectures. Knowing how to identify plants in the way that this course teaches you, is something that needs to be solidly embedded into your brain, and to do that takes time. The rewards though are extremely significant, and life long -not just in terms of what you can do, but also in terms of how you perceive and appreciate plants in a completely different way.
This is a course that EVERY aspiring horticulturist should take the time to do!