Every organism that exists on Earth today is the product of a long evolutionary process driven by natural selection of the fittest individuals, which creates new adaptive traits that are genetically defined. Systematics has the goal of developing a straightforward and comprehensive classification system, and of describing the direction that the evolution of organismic traits has taken in each single case. For this purpose, all species features and all available information are considered in systematic descriptions.
The systematics section shows plant families according to progress in plant evolution, and displays species that are able to grow in our climate. It gives insight into the variety of forms of vascular plants in relation to their position in plant phylogeny—some limited insight into the variety of some 300,000 plant species that have been described worldwide. The initial, basal plant families are located upslope on the beds next to the evergreen plants section. Plant families that subsequently derived from these and successively evolved further line up downslope, passing by the Pankow circular flowerbed and then along the concrete road up to the ornamental plants section.
Currently, evolutionary relationships in the plant world are being checked and updated through modern genetics technology. With this new information, there have been a number of changes and corrections to the evolutionary tree. For pragmatic reasons, a garden like ours can only gradually rearrange naming and systematics of species. A revision of the entire systematics section is in preparation.
Woody plants are also planted in related groups and are thus also a part of the systematics section. In the arboretum, they are principally grouped according to family and genus at various places throughout the garden.