April 2014

Plant theory

by Jan Scholten


The Plant theory is a classification of the Plant kingdom as explained in "Wonderful Plants". The Plant theory is for the Plant kingdom what the Element theory is for the Mineral kingdom: a classification of all its members. It can be compared with a map of a region, the region being the Plant kingdom. The map makes the navigation in the Plant kingdom easier. It helps one to understand the remedies and their comparison with other remedies. With the map one can navigate through the Plant kingdom.

Element theory

To understand the Plant theory one has to be familiar with the Element theory and its series and stages. The Element theory describes elements according to their place in the Periodic system: their row and column. The rows, (series), describe the theme, the field where the problem is. The Silica series, for instance, pertains  to problems relating to relationships, and it contains most of the major “relationship elements”: Silica, Phosphorus, Sulphur and Chlorum. The columns, (stages), describe how someone feels about the problem and especially how they handle it, for instance, with anticipation or with confidence.

The Element theory is simple: each element or atom has 2 aspects, a series and a stage. It can easily be represented in the form of a table, a two dimensional graph. In the case of salts, it becomes a bit more complicated because then there are 2 elements and thus 2 series and 2 stages, but still it can be represented in a 2 dimensional table.

Plant theory

The Plant theory is more complex than the Element theory. Whereas the periodic table of the elements can be represented in a two dimensional format, a graph, the plant system, being more complex, requires more dimensions. It uses the central concepts of the Element theory, the series and stages, but adds Phases and Subphases to that (see further on). So, instead of a two dimensional chart, we represent the plant kingdom with something closer to it, a tree. Each major branch of the tree represents one of the series of the periodic system, such as the Carbon series or the Silver series, and is numbered correspondingly. Each further branching of the tree is given a number, right down to the “leaf”, which corresponds to the genus of the plant. We thus have six successive numbers to represent the placement of the plant in the system.

The major branches of the ‘tree’ correspond to the Phyla, as we can see below.

Division 1: dividing the Plant kingdom in 7 Phyla or Divisions, which correspond to the Series:

1. Hydrogen series: Red and brown Algae

2. Carbon series: Green Algae

3. Silicon series: Bryophytae, Mosses, Liverworts, Hornworts

4. Iron series: Pteridophyta, spore plants like ferns and Lycopodium

5. Silver series: Gymnospermae, the pine trees and cycads

6. Gold series, Lanthanides: Angiospermae, the flowering plants

7. Uranium series: Fungi

Most of the plants that we use in homeopathy are from the Phylum Angiospermae, the flowering plants, represented by number 6. This first number can be neglected in most cases. The plants in this phylum represent the latest development of evolution and are connected to our era. The other phyla can be seen as remnants from the past, from the time of the dinosaurs or earlier. Those plants are indicated only in special situations.

Taking the example of Tradescantia virginiana, from one of the cases described in this issue: its number is 633.46.13, the first number of which represents the Phylum, the Angiospermae. 

Division 2: the next branch corresponds to the division of the Phyla into Classes.

The Classes correspond to the Series as we know them from the periodic table. It is like a refinement of the themes. It can be seen as a fractal, a division of the whole that is repeated in its parts. It is not just one Series but a build up, including all the former Series. For example, in Magnolianae there are the themes of both the Carbon series and the Hydrogen Series. In Malvanae there are the themes of Hydrogen, Carbon, Silicon, Iron and Silver series.

The division of the Phylum of the Angiospermae is as follows:

1. Hydrogen series: Amborellanae

2. Carbon series: Magnolianae

3. Silicon series: Lilianae, the Monocotyledons

4. Iron series: Fabanae, Eurosids 1, including Proteales, Sabiales, Trochodendrales, Buxales, Gunnerales, Vitales

5. Silver series: Malvanae, Eurosids 2, including Saxifragales, Geraniales, Myrtales, Santalales

6. Lanthanides / Gold series: Asteranae

7. Uranium series: no representatives so far

In our example, the number of Tradescantia virginiana is 633.46.13. The second number, 3, means it is in the Lilianae and has the themes of the first 3 series in it: Hydrogen series, Carbon series, and Silicon series. This number is essential. It indicates where the main problem is, in which Series. Starting from the bottom of the tree, it shows at which level, which Series, the problem lies. Otherwise said, this way one can exclude groups, Classes. When a problem has no Lanthanide quality, Asteranae can be excluded, when there is no Silver series theme, Malvanae can be excluded and so on.

Division 3: dividing Classes into Subclasses.

Classes are divided into Subclasses. This is a similar division as of Phyla into Classes, using the Series as differential. It is an expression of where the main focus is, on which Series.

The Lilianae, for example, can be divided into:

3.1. Silicon, Hydrogen: Acoridae, Acorus calamus

3.2. Silicon, Carbon: Aridae, the Arum family

3.3. Silicon, Silicon: Liliidae, most monocotyledons

The number of Tradescantia virginiana is 633.46.13. The third number, 3, means that Series 3, the Silicon series, has the emphasis. There are also Carbon series issues, such as financial worries and health problems, but the main problem is in relationships and family.

Division 4. dividing Subclasses into Orders via Phases.

‘Phase’ is a new concept, but it, too, is connected to the Periodic system of Elements. The Phases correspond to the Order, and to 8 columns of the early series of the Periodic table, the Carbon series and the Silicon series. Here, we see a progression, a development in life, corresponding to how one is placed within one’s group. The first Phase, for instance, corresponds to Lithium and Natrium, where one is just at the beginning, not belonging to the group at all yet. Phase 4, in the middle, corresponds to Carbon and Silica, where one is firmly in the middle of the group, like stage 10 of the periodic table: aware of one’s position. Phase 7 corresponds to Fluorine and Chlorum, similar to Stage 17, feeling pushed out of the group. In the Plant theory, only 7 Phases are in use rather than the eight of the Carbon and Silica series; the eight column, which would correspond to the inert gases, is not found in the plant kingdom, since the plant kingdom, being all about growth and reactivity, has no corresponding 'inert' state.   

The division of the division of the Subclass Lilianae into Phases (Orders) is the following:

1. Alismatales

2. Disocoreales

3. Pandanales

4. Commelonoids

5. Asparagales

6. Liliales

7. Orchidales

In our example, the number of Tradescantia virginiana is 633.46.13. The 4th number, 4, means that it is in Phase 4, which brings us to the the order of the Commelonoids. This indicates that they have the idea of stability, loyalty, that things are fixed and should stay like that. In Tradescantia, this is related to relationships; they feel that relationships should remain stable. They mostly feel at home in their family and are very loyal to them.

Division 5: dividing Orders into Families with Subphases.

‘Subphase’ is also a new term, a further division of the Phases, like smaller branches of the tree. Like the Phases, there are 7 Subphases, each of which corresponds to a Family of plants. The Subphase is a further refinement of the Phase, on a different level. Here, we look at the manner in which someone experiences their situation within the group, whereas in the Phases, we look at the situation itself. For instance, in the case of Tradescantia virginiana, the patient is in fact very central in the family and she feels that a relationship should be stable forever (Phase 4). Yet, her experience (Subphase) of the situation is that she feels used and taken advantage of (633.46.13). Subphase 6 is like Oxygen and Sulphur, Stage 16 of the Periodic table, where one feels used, abused, taken advantage of, giving more than they receive, feeling half left out. Tradescantia patients feel taken advantage of in relationships with their spouse or friends.

The division of the Commelinoids into Subphases is as follows:

1. Cyperaceae

2. Poaceae, the grasses

3. Dasypogonaceae

4. Arecacea: the palms

5. Zingiberales

6. Commelinales

7. Bromeliaceae

In Tradescantia, this combines with the basic Phase 4 with the Subphase 6. Phase 4 means that basically they feel that the relationship or marriage should go on, and Subphase 6 means that they feel an imbalance in it and they feel half out of it.

The Phase and Subphase mix, blending into a combination of how they are in situations and groups. This often gives a kind of conflict. Phase and Subphases can be difficult to differentiate, even more so because they are basically giving the same information, though in a different way. The difference is that the Phase is more basic, representing how the situation is or should be, such as the fact that someone is actually head of the family.  Phases represent a very central delusion. Subphases represent how someone feels about a situation, how it is not what it should be, for instance feeling that they are ‘half out of the family’.

Division 6. dividing Families into Genera and Species via the Stages.

Each family can be divided into 17 Stages, like the 18 stages of the Periodic table. (The 18th stage, corresponding to the inert gases, is not used in the Plant theory.) The Stages differentiate between the genera of a family, like the leaf on the tree. It is similar to the differentiation of families with miasms, but more precise, bringing us straight to a certain remedy.

Some Families have only a few Stages, 7 or even only 1. For instance Acorales has only one Genus, Acorus.

The number of Tradescantia virginiana is 633.46.13. The sixth number, 13 here, means that Tradescantia is in Stage 13. This represents the fact that they feel bitter and angry but cannot express their anger and have to hold it in half of the time. Tradescantia feels used in a marriage or other relationship and would like to leave, but still feels very attached and loyal. At the same time, they cannot express their anger and have to keep it in.


The Plant theory is based on the Apg3 classification. This classification is the latest development in the classification of the Plant kingdom, mostly based on DNA analyses and accepted by most botanists as the most reliable. The Apg3 classification, though, is not fixed like the Periodic table. It is still in development, which can be seen from the fact that it is the second update of the third publication.

The Plant theory is based on the Apg3 classification but has some deviations from it. Mostly these deviations are minor and not violating the basic Apg3 classification, like splitting or fusing some groups. In some cases, though, some groups have been shifted, and time will tell what the best placement is.

The naming of groups is the same mostly as in the Apg3 classification, especially with Families and Orders. Higher groups like Classes and Subclasses are not named as such in the Apg3 classification.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Lily; Russavia; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Categories: Theory
Keywords: Plant theory, plant classification, APG3, periodic table of elements


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Sue Spurling
Posts: 11
Wonderful Plants
Reply #4 on : Tue April 01, 2014, 20:48:50
Regarding your book - what an enormous contribution to homeopathy - thank you Jan. It is quite a journey in itself working through this huge piece of work but so very worthwhile. It demonstrates to me how much more of a journey there is yet to travel. Many questions both literal and philosphical. In gratitude, Sue
Jan Scholten
Posts: 11
Reply #3 on : Tue April 01, 2014, 19:31:51
The hypothesis has been so far that all parts of the plants are having essentially the same picture.
It will take further research to substantiate or disprove this hypothesis.
Alan Schmukler
Posts: 11
Reply #2 on : Tue April 01, 2014, 14:52:49
Thank you Jan for the wonderfully lucid synopsis!
Ralf J├╝rgens
Posts: 11
inert state
Reply #1 on : Tue April 01, 2014, 10:17:40
ref. to " since the plant kingdom, being all about growth and reactivity, has no corresponding 'inert' state." - what about seeds of plants ? (E.g. anthroposophy has always had different indications to use seed, flower, leaf, bark, root etc.)
Just a little idea while reading the article...