Plant Scientific Names

Filed under: Articles — David @ 10:49 am
Author: Lim TY aka picesilim
Edited By: David

All plants are given scientific names in Latin to identify them by their genus and species. Latin is use as it is the international language of science. However, the general guy on he street may have difficulty remembering or pronouncing Latin names and so they use common names to identify the plants. However, the problem with common names is they are most often general and may cause confusion.

Example of a scientific name: N. ampullaria
Example of the layman name: Pitcher Plant

A scientific name consists of two parts and this system is called Binomial nomenclature. The first part is the generic name that designates the genus or the grouping of related species. The second part of the scientific name describe the species or members of the genus. This is the specific epithet. The species is the basic unit of classification for a group of individual plants in a population having common characteristics, yet distinct from others of other species.

Plant scientific names must be written in italics or underlined. Only the first letter of the genus name needs to be in capital letters. The species name is in small capital letters.

Example, the correct ways to write a scientific name for Primrose Butterwort is:

- Pinguicula primuliflora
- P.primuliflora
- Pinguicula primuliflora
- P.primuliflora

NOT Pinguicula Primuliflora, PINGUICULA PRIMULIFLORA or Ping. primuliflora.

If the CPs is a hybrid it may be given a hybrid name. Then the “x” should not be in italics and there should be a space between the epithet. For example, the hybrid name for N.rafflesiana x ampullaria.

A hybrid may also be given a a normal name if it is a naturally accuring hybrid in the wild. In this situation the “x” is placed before the epithet with a space like this… N. x hookeriana. A hybrid name is treated like other botanical names, for most purposes. The multiplication sign is not part of the actual name and is to be disregarded for nomenclatural purposes. This means that, say, Nepenthes x hookeriana for nomenclatural purposes is to be treated as Nepenthes hookeriana. A taxonomist could decide to use either form of this name, if he wants to emphasize that it is a hybrid he will use Nepenthes x hookeriana, if he wants to emphasize that it is a species he will use Nepenthes hookeriana.



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