Taxonomic Aids | Definition, Examples, Diagrams & Significance

Taxonomic Aids | Definition, Examples, Diagrams & Significance

The systematic study or diverse organisms is beneficial for human kind. As human can exploit this knowledge of various species of plants, animals and other organisms in agriculture, forestry, fishery, industries, etc. and can also exacty understand different bio-resources existing on earth. Therefore, accurate clasification and identification of organisms is required which needs field studies and intensive laboratory work. This is done after collection of actual specimens of plants and animal species which is the primary source of all taxonomic studies. This helps in not only studying diverse organisms morphology etc. but also various relationships present amongst them. It also plays an essential role in systematics training. Hence, these taxonomical studies help in :

  1. Fundamental study of different living organisms.
  2. Also aid in their systematic study.
  3. Information gathered is stored with specimens for future studies.

Therefore, biologists have established certain procedures and techniques to store and preserve the information as well as the specimens. Some of the locations where one can find information with specimen of various plants, animals and other organisms are Herbarium, Botanical Gardens, Museums and Zoological Parks.


It is defined as “store house of collected plant specimens that are dried, pressed and preserved on sheets Further, these sheets are arranged in the sequence of a universally accepted system of classification.

Fig.: Herbarium showing stored specimens
Fig.: Herbarium showing stored specimens

The sheets having different specimens along with their accurate information form a herbarium. These herbarium sheets are carefully preserved for future use. These sheets carry a label on the right-hand side at lower comer which provides information about :

  1. Date on which the specimen was collected.
  2. Place from where the specimen was collected
  3. English name of the specimen.
  4. Vernacular or local name of the specimen.
  5. Botanical name of the specimen.
  6. Family of the specimen.
  7. Name of the collector of that specific specimen.

Such herbaria serve as quick source of reference in taxonomical studies. It also provides information about the local flora as well as flora of distant areas. This information is also useful in locating wild varieties and relatives of economically important plants.

List of some Herbaria of the world:

  1. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (England)
  2. Central National Herbarnum, Calcutta.

Botanical Gardens

Botanical garden is an institution located in an enclosed piece of land which grows numerous kinds of plants obtained from different places for botanical studies. It is ex-situ conservation strategies of plants. Each plant is first identified and then labelled indicating its botanical/scientific name and its family.

List of some Botanical Gardens

  1. Royal Botanical Garden, Kew (England)
  2. National Botanical Garden, Lucknow
  3. Indian Botanical Garden, Howrah
  4. Lloyd Botanical Garden, Darjeeling


Museum is a place used for storing, preservation and exnidition of both plants and animals. All educational institutes and universities maintain museums in their Botany and Zoology departments.

These museums have collection of preserved plants and animals which are used for study and reference. These specimens are kept in the containers or jars in preservative solution. A commonly used preservative solutions is “Formalin”. Plants and animals specimen may also be preserved as dry specimens. For instances, insects are collected, killed and pinned before preserving them in special insect boxes while larger animals like reptiles, birds and mammals are usually stuffed and then preserved. Skeleton of some larger animals are also preserved in various museums. Thus, preservation of specimens collected and stored in museum is done by either putting specimens into a condition that checks deterioration or it is protected by other means as no specimens will last forever. National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Delhi is important from natural science point of view.

Zoological Parks

Zoological parks commonly known as zoos are the places where live wild animals are kept in protected environment which is made similar to their natural habitats as much as possible. Thus, these are ex-situ conservation of animals. Here, they are provided with protection and care by human beings. These parks serve as ideal means to study and learn different food habits and behaviour of variety of animals. So, students should visit nearby zoos for knowledge and entertainment both. National Zoological Park (Delhi) is one of the finest zoos of Asia.

Fig.: Pictures showing animals in different zoological parks of India
Fig.: Pictures showing animals in different zoological parks of India


Key is an important taxonomic aid used for identification of plants and animals based on the similarities and dissimilarities. Actually, it is a set of alternate characters of different types arranged sequence wise in such a fashion that by selection and elimination one can quickly find out the name of the organism. The keys are based on the set of contrasting characters generally in a pair known as “couplet“. Each character of the couplet or statement in the key is called as “lead“. One has to choose correct option between two statements of characters of definite species so that the animal or plant is identified accurately. Keys are generally analytical in nature. There are separate taxonomic keys specific for each taxonomic category such as family, genus and species.

Flora, Manuals, Monographs and Catalogues

These flora, manuals, monographs, etc. are recorded descriptions of plants, animals and other organisms. They provide correct identification and description of variety of living organisms.

(i) Flora : It is a book contaiRing-information about plants found in a particular areaIt gives the actual account of habitat and distribution of yarious plants of a given area. These provide the index to the plant species found in a particular area. For example, Flora of Delhi by JK. Maheshwan

(ii) Manual : t is a book containing complete listing and description of the plants growing in a paricular area. They provide useful information for identification of names of various species found in an area.

(iii) Monograph : It contains information of any one taxon.

(iv) Catalogue : It includes the alphabetical arrangement of speciesof a particular place describing their features.

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