Species Plantarum

Species Plantarum (Latin for "The Species of Plants") is a book by Carl Linnaeus, originally published in 1753, which lists every species of plant known at the time, classified into genera. It is the first work to consistently apply binomial names and was the starting point for the naming of plants.

Species Plantarum
Species plantarum 001
Cover page of first edition
AuthorCarl Linnaeus
PublishedLaurentius Salvius (1 May 1753)
Media typePrint
Pagesxi, 1200 + xxxi


Species Plantarum[Note 1] was published on 1 May 1753 by Laurentius Salvius in Stockholm, in two volumes.[1][2][Note 2] A second edition was published in 1762–1763,[1] and a third edition in 1764, although this "scarcely differed" from the second.[4] Further editions were published after Linnaeus' death in 1778, under the direction of Karl Ludwig Willdenow, the director of the Berlin Botanical Garden; the fifth edition (1800) was published in four volumes.[5]


20120621Plantago lanceolata17
Before Species Plantarum, this plant was referred to as "Plantago foliis ovato-lanceolatis pubescentibus, spica cylindrica, scapo tereti"; Linnaeus renamed it Plantago media.

Species Plantarum was the first botanical work to consistently apply the binomial nomenclature system of naming to any large group of organisms (Linnaeus' tenth edition of Systema Naturae would apply the same technique to animals for the first time in 1758). Prior to this work, a plant species would be known by a long polynomial, such as Plantago foliis ovato-lanceolatis pubescentibus, spica cylindrica, scapo tereti (meaning "plantain with pubescent ovate-lanceolate leaves, a cylindrical spike and a terete scape")[6] or Nepeta floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatis (meaning "Nepeta with flowers in a stalked, interrupted spike").[7] In Species Plantarum, these cumbersome names were replaced with two-part names, consisting of a single-word genus name, and a single-word specific epithet or "trivial name"; the two examples above became Plantago media and Nepeta cataria, respectively.[6][7] The use of binomial names had originally been developed as a kind of shorthand in a student project about the plants eaten by cattle.[8]

After the specific epithet, Linnaeus gave a short description of each species, and a synonymy. The descriptions were careful and terse, consisting of few words in small genera; in Glycyrrhiza, for instance, the three species (Glycyrrhiza echinata, Glycyrrhiza glabra and "Glycyrrhiza hirsuta",[Note 3] respectively) were described as "leguminibus echinatis", "leguminibus glabris" and "leguminibus hirsutis".[10]

Because it is the first work in which binomial nomenclature was consistently applied, Species Plantarum was chosen as the "starting point" for the nomenclature of most plants (the nomenclature of some non-vascular plants and all fungi uses later starting points).[6]


Species Plantarum contained descriptions of the thousands of plant species known to Linnaeus at the time. In the first edition, there were 5,940 names, from Acalypha australis to Zygophyllum spinosum.[11] In his introduction, Linnaeus estimated that there were fewer than 10,000 plant species in existence;[12] there are now thought to be around 400,000 species of flowering plants alone.[13]

The species were arranged in around a thousand genera, which were grouped into 24 classes, according to Linnaeus' sexual system of classification.[14] There are no descriptions of the genera in Species Plantarum; these are supplied in the companion volume Genera Plantarum ("the genera of plants"), the fifth edition of which was printed at a similar time to the first edition of Species Plantarum.[10] Linnaeus' sexual system is now acknowledged to be an artificial system, rather than one which accurately reflects shared ancestry,[14] but the system's simplicity made it easier for non-specialists to rapidly find the correct class, being based on simple counts of floral parts such as stigmas and stamens.[1]


  1. ^ Its full title was Species plantarum, exhibentes plantas rite cognitas ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas.
  2. ^ The book was actually published in two volumes, the first being on 24 May and the second on 16 August. However, for practical purposes, the dates of issue for volumes was arbitrarily set on 1 May, see Stearn, W.T. (1957), The preparation of the Species Plantarum and the introduction of binomial nomenclature, in: Species Plantarum, A Facsimile of the first edition, London, Ray Society: 72 and ICN (Melbourne Code)[3] Art. 13.4 Note 1: "The two volumes of Linnaeus' Species plantarum, ed. 1 (1753), which appeared in May and August, 1753, respectively, are treated as having been published simultaneously on 1 May 1753."
  3. ^ Now considered a synonym of G. glabra.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Carolus Linnæus, Species Plantarum, Stockholm 1762–3". Collection Highlight Summer 2007. University of Aberdeen. 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  2. ^ Winston, Judith (20 April 2012). Describing Species: Practical Taxonomic Procedure for Biologists. Columbia University Press. p. 35. ISBN 9780231506656. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  3. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6.
  4. ^ Clive A. Stace (1991). "The development of plant taxonomy". Plant Taxonomy and Biosystematics (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 17–64. ISBN 978-0-521-42785-2.
  5. ^ V. N. Naik (1984). "A review of pre-Darwinian classification". Taxonomy of Angiosperms. Tata McGraw-Hill. pp. 9–24. ISBN 9780074517888.
  6. ^ a b c Katherine E. Cullen (2006). "Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778): binomial nomenclature system". Biology: The People Behind the Science. Infobase Publishing. pp. 28–43. ISBN 978-0-8160-7221-7.
  7. ^ a b Roger Spencer, Rob Cross & Peter Lumley (2007). "Latin names, the binomial system and plant classification". Plant Names: a Guide to Botanical Nomenclature (3rd ed.). CSIRO Publishing. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9780643099456.
  8. ^ Britannica Educational Publishing (2009). "Carolus Linnaeus". The 100 Most Influential Scientists of All Time. Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 93–97. ISBN 9781615300402.
  9. ^ "Glycyrrhiza hirsuta Linnaeus". The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project. Natural History Museum. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b Duane Isely (2002). "Carl Linnaeus". One Hundred and One Botanists. Purdue University Press. pp. 86–93. ISBN 9781557532831.
  11. ^ Robert W. Kiger. "Index to Binomials Cited in the First Edition of Linnaeus' Species Plantarum". Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  12. ^ H. G. Bongard (1835). "Historical sketch of the progress of botany in Russia, from the time of Peter the Great to the present day; and on the part which the Academy has borne in the advancement of this science". Companion to the Botanical Magazine. 1: 177–186.
  13. ^ "How many flowering plants are there in the world?". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (2011). "Plant world". The Handy Science Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. pp. 403–450. ISBN 9781578593637.

External links

10th edition of Systema Naturae

The 10th edition of Systema Naturae is a book written by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus and published in two volumes in 1758 and 1759, which marks the starting point of zoological nomenclature. In it, Linnaeus introduced binomial nomenclature for animals, something he had already done for plants in his 1753 publication of Species Plantarum.

1753 in Sweden

Events from the year 1753 in Sweden

Botanical nomenclature

Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this process. The starting point for modern botanical nomenclature is Linnaeus' Species Plantarum of 1753. Botanical nomenclature is governed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), which replaces the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). Fossil plants are also covered by the code of nomenclature.

Within the limits set by that code there is another set of rules, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) which applies to plant cultivars that have been deliberately altered or selected by humans (see cultigen).

Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈkɑːɭ fɔn lɪˈneː] (listen)), was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus (after 1761 Carolus a Linné).

Linnaeus was born in the countryside of Småland in southern Sweden. He received most of his higher education at Uppsala University and began giving lectures in botany there in 1730. He lived abroad between 1735 and 1738, where he studied and also published the first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands. He then returned to Sweden where he became professor of medicine and botany at Uppsala. In the 1740s, he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals. In the 1750s and 1760s, he continued to collect and classify animals, plants, and minerals, while publishing several volumes. He was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe at the time of his death.

Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the message: "Tell him I know no greater man on earth." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: "With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly." Swedish author August Strindberg wrote: "Linnaeus was in reality a poet who happened to become a naturalist." Linnaeus has been called Princeps botanicorum (Prince of Botanists) and "The Pliny of the North". He is also considered as one of the founders of modern ecology.In botany and zoology, the abbreviation L. is used to indicate Linnaeus as the authority for a species' name. In older publications, the abbreviation "Linn." is found. Linnaeus's remains comprise the type specimen for the species Homo sapiens following the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the sole specimen that he is known to have examined was himself.

Carl Linnaeus bibliography

The bibliography of Carl Linnaeus includes academic works about botany, zoology, nomenclature and taxonomy written by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778). Linnaeus laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature and is known as the father of modern taxonomy. His most famous works is Systema Naturae which is considered as the starting point for zoological nomenclature together with Species Plantarum which is internationally accepted as the beginning of modern botanical nomenclature.

Classes Plantarum

Classes Plantarum ('Classes of plants', Leiden, Oct. 1738) is a book that was written by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, physician, zoologist and naturalist.

The Latin-language book is an elaboration of aphorisms 53–77 of his Fundamenta Botanica and a complementary volume to his Species Plantarum, Genera Plantarum, Critica Botanica, and Philosophia Botanica.

Critica Botanica

Critica Botanica ("Critique of botany", Leiden, July 1737) was written by Swedish botanist, physician, zoologist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778). The book was published in Germany when Linnaeus was twenty-nine with a discursus by the botanist Johannes Browallius (1707–1755), bishop of Åbo. The first and only edition was published in July 1737 under the full title Critica botanica in qua nomina plantarum generica, specifica & variantia examini subjiciuntur, selectoria confirmantur, indigna rejiciuntur; simulque doctrina circa denominationem plantarum traditur. Seu Fundamentorum botanicorum pars IV Accedit Johannis Browallii De necessitate historiae naturalis discursus.Linnaeus's principles of botanical nomenclature were first expounded in Fundamenta Botanica ("Foundations of botany") of 1736 chapters VII to X which contained the aphorisms (principles) 210 to 324 that outlined the rules for the acceptance and formation of names. These were later elaborated, with numerous examples, in his Critica Botanica of 1737. The practical application of these rules was soon seen in subsequent publications such as Flora Lapponica ("Flora of Lapland", 1737), Hortus Cliffortianus ("In honour of Clifford's garden", 1738), and Flora Svecica ("Flora of Sweden", 1746). Together the Fundamenta and Critica summarised Linnaeus's thoughts on plant nomenclature and classification which he later revised and elaborated in his Philosophia Botanica of 1751.

In the Critica Linnaeus presented a series of rules which guided him in his own publications, established standards of procedure for his followers, and led him to discard on a grand scale the names used by his predecessors. Many of his canons have long since been disregarded, but they ensured that modern botanical nomenclature at least began with a series of well-formed, euphonious and convenient names.

Genera Plantarum

Genera Plantarum is a publication of Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778). The first edition was issued in Leiden, 1737. The fifth edition served as a complementary volume to Species Plantarum (1753). Article 13 of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants states that "Generic names that appear in Linnaeus' Species Plantarum ed. 1 (1753) and ed. 2 (1762–63) are associated with the first subsequent description given under those names in Linnaeus' Genera Plantarum ed. 5 (1754) and ed. 6 (1764)." This defines the starting point for nomenclature of most groups of plants.The first edition of Genera Plantarum contains brief descriptions of the 935 plant genera that were known to Linnaeus at that time. It is dedicated to Herman Boerhaave, a Leiden physician who introduced Linnaeus to George Clifford and the medico-botanical Dutch establishment of the day. Genera Plantarum employed his “sexual system” of classification, in which plants are grouped according to the number of stamens and pistils in the flower. Genera Plantarum was revised several times by Linnaeus, the fifth edition being published in August 1754 (eds. 3 and 4 were not edited by Linnaeus) and linked to the first edition of Species Plantarum. Over the 16 years that passed between the publication of the first and fifth editions the number of genera listed had increased from 935 to 1105.

Linnaeus established the system of binomial nomenclature through the widespread acceptance of his list of plants in the 1753 edition of Species Plantarum, which is now taken as the starting point for all botanical nomenclature. Genera Plantarum was an integral part of this first stepping stone towards a universal standardised biological nomenclature.

George Clifford III

George Clifford III (7 January 1685, Amsterdam – 10 April 1760, Heemstede) was a wealthy Dutch banker and one of the directors of the Dutch East India Company. He is known for his keen interest in plants and gardens. His estate Hartekamp had a rich variety of plants and he engaged the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné, who stayed at his estate from 1736 to 1738, to write Hortus Cliffortianus (1737), a masterpiece of early botanical literature published in 1738, and for which Georg Dionysius Ehret did the illustrations. Many specimens from Clifford's garden were also studied by Linnaeus for his Species Plantarum (1753).

His grandfather, Englishman George Clifford I, moved from Stow (where his father was rector) to Amsterdam around 1640, beginning an Anglo-Dutch banking dynasty. Subsequent members of the Clifford Family were prominent leaders in Amsterdam.


Guettarda is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. Most of these plants are known by the common name Velvetseed. Estimates of the number of species range from about 50 to 162. Most of the species are neotropical. Twenty are found in New Caledonia and one reaches Australia. A few others are found on islands and in coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Three species (G. odorata, G. scabra, G. speciosa) are known in cultivation. Guettarda argentea provides edible fruit. The type species for the genus is Guettarda speciosa. It is a tree of coastal habitats, up to 18 m (59 ft) in height. It is grown as an ornamental.

Guettarda was named by Linnaeus in 1753 in his book Species Plantarum. This generic name is in honour of the 18th century French naturalist Jean-Étienne Guettard.The genus Guettarda is much in need of revision. Molecular phylogenetic studies have found it to be several times polyphyletic with some of its clades paraphyletic over small genera.


Hedyotis (starviolet) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. Many species of this genus such as Hedyotis biflora, H. corymbosa and H. diffusa are well known medicinal plants. Hedyotis is native to tropical and subtropical Asia and to islands of the northwest Pacific. It comprises about 115 species. The type species for the genus is Hedyotis fruticosa.Hedyotis was named by Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum. This generic name is derived from two Greek words, hedys, "sweet", and otos, "ear", in reference to the sweet-scented, ear-shaped leaves of some species.Hedyotis was formerly defined very broadly by some authors, and included species now placed in Oldenlandia, Oldenlandiopsis, Houstonia, Kadua, and other genera. It is now circumscribed more narrowly, as a monophyletic group that is closely related to Agathisanthemum.Species include:

Hedyotis lawsoniae

Hedyotis lessertiana

Hedyotis purpurea

Hedyotis verticillaris

List of systems of plant taxonomy

This list of systems of plant taxonomy presents "taxonomic systems" used in plant classification.

A taxonomic system is a coherent whole of taxonomic judgments on circumscription and placement of the considered taxa. It is only a "system" if it is applied to a large group of such taxa (for example, all the flowering plants).

There are two main criteria for this list. A system must be taxonomic, that is deal with a large number of plants, by their botanical names. Secondly it must be a system, i.e. deal with the relationships of plants. Although thinking about relationships of plants had started much earlier (see history of plant systematics), such systems really only came into being in the 19th century, as a result of an ever-increasing influx from all over the world of newly discovered plant species. The 18th century saw some early systems, which are perhaps precursors rather than full taxonomic systems.

A milestone event was the publication of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus which serves as the starting point of binomial nomenclature for plants. By its size this would qualify to be on this list, but it does not deal with relationships, beyond assigning plants into genera.

Note that a system is not necessarily monolithic and often goes through several stages of development, resulting in several versions of the same system. When a system is widely adopted, many authors will adopt their own particular version of the system. The Cronquist system is well known for existing in many versions.


Oldenlandia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. It is pantropical in distribution and has about 240 species. The type species for the genus is Oldenlandia corymbosa.Oldenlandia was named by Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum. The name honors the Danish botanist Henrik Bernard Oldenland (c.1663-1699). Some species are important in ethnomedicine; a number (usually island endemics) are threatened species, with one species and one variety being completely extinct already.

Some botanists have not recognized Oldenlandia, but have placed some or all of its species in a broadly defined Hedyotis. More recently, the circumscription of Hedyotis has been narrowed to a monophyletic group of about 115 species and no longer includes Oldenlandia. The genus Oldenlandia, as presently defined, is several times polyphyletic and will eventually be reduced to a group of species closely related to the type species. This group, known informally as Oldenlandia sensu stricto, is sister to a section of Kohautia that will eventually be separated from Kohautia and named as a new genus.

Philosophia Botanica

Philosophia Botanica ("Botanical Philosophy", ed. 1, Stockholm & Amsterdam, 1751.) was published by the Swedish naturalist and physician Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) who greatly influenced the development of botanical taxonomy and systematics in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is "the first textbook of descriptive systematic botany and botanical Latin". It also contains Linnaeus's first published description of his binomial nomenclature.

Philosophia Botanica represents a maturing of Linnaeus's thinking on botany and its theoretical foundations, being an elaboration of ideas first published in his Fundamenta Botanica (1736) and Critica Botanica (1737), and set out in a similar way as a series of stark and uncompromising principles (aphorismen). The book also establishes a basic botanical terminology.

The following principle §79 demonstrates the style of presentation and Linnaeus's method of introducing his ideas.

A detailed analysis of the work is given in Frans Stafleu's Linnaeus and the Linnaeans, pp. 25–78.

Rondeletia (plant)

Rondeletia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. It is endemic to the neotropics. There are around 160 species.Rondeletia odorata is widely grown as an ornamental. Several other species are also known in cultivation.Rondeletia was named in 1753 by Linnaeus in his book, Species Plantarum. This genus name commemorates the French physician Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566).The type species for Rondeletia is Rondeletia americana. It is little known and rarely collected.

The circumscription of Rondeletia has varied greatly from one author to another. Rogiera, Arachnothryx, and a few others have been included in Rondeletia by some authors, but molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that they are closer to Guettarda than to Rondeletia, and they are now recognized as separate genera. Even with these segregates removed, Rondeletia remains polyphyletic and will be substantially revised after further phylogenetic study.

Sea beet

The sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima ((L.) Arcangeli.), is a member of the family Amaranthaceae, previously of the Chenopodiaceae. Carl Linnaeus first described Beta vulgaris in 1753; in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1762, he divided the species into wild and cultivated varieties, giving the name Beta maritima to the wild taxon.The sea beet is native to the coasts of Europe, northern Africa, and southern Asia.

The sea beet is the wild ancestor of common vegetables such as beetroot, sugar beet, and Swiss chard. Its leaves have a pleasant texture and taste when served raw or cooked, and because of this, it is also known as wild spinach.

It is a perennial plant which grows up to 1.2 m, and flowers in the summer. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, and wind-pollinated. It requires moist, well-drained soils, and does not tolerate shade. However, it is able to tolerate relatively high levels of sodium in its environment.


Stachys is one of the largest genera in the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Estimates of the number of species in the genus vary from about 300, to about 450. The type species for the genus is Stachys sylvatica. Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae. Generic limits and relationships in this subfamily are poorly known.

The distribution of the genus covers Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. Common names include hedgenettle, heal-all, self-heal, woundwort, betony, and lamb's ears. Wood betony, S. officinalis, was the most important medicinal herb to the Anglo-Saxons of early medieval England.

The Chinese artichoke (S. affinis), is grown for its edible tuber. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals. Woolly betony (S. byzantina) is a popular decorative garden plant.

Stachys was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. The name is derived from the Greek word σταχυς (stachys), meaning "an ear of grain", and refers to the fact that the inflorescence is often a spike. The name woundwort derives from the past use of certain species in herbal medicine for the treatment of wounds.

Stachys species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the moths Coleophora auricella, C. lineolea, and C. wockeella, all recorded on S. officinalis. They are also widely used by the European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum), which scrape the hairs from the plant in order to use them for building their nests.


Vitex is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. It has about 250 species. Common names include "chaste tree" or "chastetree", traditionally referring to V. agnus-castus but often applied to other species as well.

Species of Vitex are native throughout the tropics and subtropics, with a few species in temperate Eurasia.About 18 species are known in cultivation. Vitex agnus-castus and Vitex negundo are often grown in temperate climates. About six others are frequently grown in the tropics. Most of the cultivated species serve as ornamentals. Some provide valuable lumber. The flexible limbs of some species are used in basket weaving. Some of the aromatic species are used medicinally or to repel mosquitos.The genus Vitex was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Vitex was the name used by Pliny the Elder for Vitex agnus-castus. It is derived from the Latin vieo, meaning to weave or to tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry.Vitex is one of several genera that was transferred from Verbenaceae to Lamiaceae in the 1990s as a result of phylogenetic studies of DNA sequences. It is the largest genus in the subfamily Viticoideae of Lamiaceae. Taxon sampling in molecular phylogenetic studies has never been sufficient to test the monophyly of Viticoideae, but it is generally thought to be an unnatural group. The subfamily is probably diphyletic, with Premna, Gmelina, and Cornutia constituting one clade, and with Vitex, Petitia, Pseudocarpidium, and Teijsmanniodendron constituting the other.

Woody plant

A woody plant is a plant that produces wood as its structural tissue. Woody plants are usually either trees, shrubs, or lianas. These are usually perennial plants whose stems and larger roots are reinforced with wood produced from secondary xylem. The main stem, larger branches, and roots of these plants are usually covered by a layer of bark. Wood is a structural cellular adaptation that allows woody plants to grow from above ground stems year after year, thus making some woody plants the largest and tallest terrestrial plants.

Wood is primarily composed of xylem cells with cell walls made of cellulose and lignin. Xylem is a vascular tissue which moves water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves. Most woody plants form new layers of woody tissue each year, and so increase their stem diameter from year to year, with new wood deposited on the inner side of a vascular cambium layer located immediately beneath the bark. However, in some monocotyledons such as palms and dracaenas, the wood is formed in bundles scattered through the interior of the trunk.Under specific conditions, woody plants may decay or may in time become petrified wood.

The symbol for a woody plant, based on Species Plantarum by Linnaeus is , which is also the astronomical symbol for the planet Saturn.

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