Data Definition

Corn Poppy Example

Here is the sequence of steps to find the Corn Poppy:

  1. The poppy is a seed plant so use key 1. Start at question 1.
  2. It is a terrestrial plant. Go to question 2.
  3. It is a herbaceous plant. Got to question 3.
  4. Sepals and petals are both present and differentiated. Go to question 4.
  5. Petals free or very slightly united at the extreme base. Go to Group A.
  6. Flowers regular. Go to question 2.
  7. Stamens indefinite in number, usually more than 12. Go to question 3.
  8. Leaves not in the form of a hollow cone. Go to question 4.
  9. Latex present. The plant is of the family Papaveraceae (XL, p59).

At this point we can turn to the section on Papavaraceae. There is a description of the general attributes of plants in this family. Another key leads us to the appropriate genus:

  1. Flowers are red, purple or white. The plant is of the genus Papaver.

There is then another description, general to all plants in this family, and another key:

  1. Stem leaves not pale blueish-green, pinnately divided. Petals bright red. Sepals hairy. Go to question 2.
  2. Ovary and capsule hairy. Inner pair of petals smaller than outer. Go to question 3.
  3. Capsule more or less globular. Peduncle with spreading hairs. The plant is of the species Papaver rhoeas.

Here we have come to the end of the search for the corn poppy.

Index Grouping

2 Groups at top level:
	seed plants

Within seed plants:
	6 groups

Within ferns:
	1 group

These 7 groups are somewhat evenly divided in number of questions (between 20 and 60). This may have little bearing on the actual number of plants possibly referred ton in a group.

This top-level index/key leads the user to a family or a genus within a family.

Taxonomical Grouping

Family > Genus > Species

The information is divided very unevenly amongst these categorisations: Some families are represented by only one or two species. Others have tens of genera each with multiple species.

Seperating data at the genus level may lead to too much fragmentation. The family level would be more suitable.

Rough Definition


The family-level key leads the user to a genus within this family.


The genus-level key leads the user to a species within this genus.

	Latin Name, other latin names,	
	Introduced(no, probably, certainly),
	english name,
	irish name,
	time of flowering,
	description [could be further divided?],
	ground type,

This rough definition has lead to a formal definition written as an XML DTD.