Plant Identification From Ancient Medicines to Modern Day Software

Plant Identification spans Generations and Sciences

The modern practices of medicine, culinary arts, agriculture, and botany all branch from one very basic science- plant identification. This science found its start in the sheer practicality of identifying plants; it’s generally good practice when living off of the land to know which plants are edible and useful, and which ones produce itchy rashes or even death. Plant identification a practice that is valuable for its interest and for the multitude of ways in which it can be applied.

The Importance of Plants in Medicine

Plant identification by leaf

Ranunculus arvensis

The recognition of the medicinal uses of plants is the foundation of today’s age of pen-happy doctors and instant antibiotics. Pharmacognosy is the study of natural molecules (substances found in nature) and their practical medicinal uses (as well as some other uses). Within this field are branches dedicated to the study of plants. For example, the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research focuses specifically on researching and clinically trying the effectiveness of the medicinal uses of natural plants. Their journal is titled Planta Medica, after the latin for “medicinal plant.” A few of their most recent articles include research on natural (plant) dietary supplements and plant determinants of metabolic syndrome (a set of common risk factors that contribute to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).

Clearly, medicinal plants continue to make a mark in the medical community, and in science as a whole. Any research and use of these plants of course hinges on one necessary skill: the ability to accurately recognize plants. It’s simple: before you can research or medicinally apply a plant, you must identify it first!

Culinary Arts require intimate knowledge of Plants

It is not difficult to understand the use of plant identification in the culinary arts. Chefs and seasoned home cooks themselves become their own sort of guides to plant identification as they build up a repertoire of knowledge of herbs and cooking plants. It only takes a few kitchen disasters to know that there is a huge difference between cilantro and parsley! Accurate identification of plants in the kitchen is the only skill standing between a disastrous concoction and a savory sauce, or some nice spiced peaches.


plants for agricultureAgriculture overlaps greatly with the other areas that necessitate plant identification skills. It is the science of cultivating land and then crops for uses in medicine, food consumption, or any other reason anyone would ever want to use a plant. This field is of the utmost importance for a variety of reasons. Agriculturalists provide all of the plant items (most things non-meat originally comes from plants) for human consumption, and they provide feed for the farmers that do produce meat. Economies depend on exports of plants like various grains and herbs. Naturally, countries are very regulatory of agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, makes an effort to monitor what kinds of plants are brought into the U.S.,  to avoid disasters like a foreign plant taking over the ecosystem of important native plants and destroying potentially vital crops.

Agriculturalists need to know about the plants they cultivate in order to do their jobs correctly. Identification of these plants is only the first step to raising them and taking care of them properly. It is a skill that needs to be second nature.


Plant identification is the first rule of botany. Botany is the field of biology that deals in researching and understanding the nature and uses of plant life. Biologists in this field are often the scientists responsible for identifying and profiling new species of plant. Botanists make available to other scientists information about the plants they employ. From medicine to agriculture, botanists are to thank for plant identification and understanding. They create guides for plant identification, and it is the trained skill of a botanist to name the species of any number of plants from a glance out of a window or of a moving car. That skill is what Metis llc offers.

Plant Identification by Leaf

The quickest and easiest way to identify a plant is by its leaves. These are the most visible and variable aspect of a plant from trees to weeds, and they are available three out four seasons of the year (with the exception of evergreens, which are available year round). Plant leaf identification takes advantage of variations in leaf shape, color, texture, stem arrangement, as well as several other characteristics. Plant identification by leaf  is our recommended starting point for the budding botanist.

Plant Identification Guide

Metisllc provides innovative visual learning software as a guide in mastering plant identification on several different levels (genus, species, ect.) The cognitive psychology principles of visual learning are utilized to quickly and efficiently teach the learner to be their own plant identification guide.

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