One-by-one or two-by-two, scientists use seed structure as a major classification tool.
Seeds currently exist in two basic forms: monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Since those words have too many syllables and are tricky to spell, most people call them monocots and dicots. Monocots, such as corn, have only one seed body. Dicots, such as beans and most nuts, easily break into two halves.
Way, way back, nearly a billion years ago, plants and animals diverged into two different life forms. Before that happened, life existed as eukaryotes. Eukaryotes are organisms with a true nucleus. They evolved approximately 2.7 billion years ago, but I digress.
What I find fascinating is that the complete protein originally found in eukaryotes is regained when we eat monocots and dicots around the same time. Crazy, right? Traditional meals of rice and beans, peanut butter and bread, even oatmeal cookies with nuts provide your body with the basic building blocks of life itself!
So, how does understanding all this evolution help you in the garden?
Plant classification can help you determine if you are looking at an infant prized heirloom tomato or a weed. Also, some herbicides are designed to only attack monocots, while others only kill dicots. Most important, cutting the top off of a monocot will kill it (lawns being a notable exception).
Monocots, aside from having a single seed body, also feature flower petals that are multiples of three, leaves with parallel veins, fibrous roots, and a cross section of the stem will show a chaotic arrangement of veins (vascular bundles). Bulbs, such as tulips and garlic, are modified monocots.
Dicots, on the other hand, have flower petals in multiples of four or five, leaf veins that are random or scattered, and vascular bundles that look like the rings of trees. They also have tap roots.
Take a look at the image above and then go explore your yard to try your hand at classifying plants!
I hope this information inspires you to grow more of your own food. You can ask your garden questions on my Home page.