Friday 16 September 2011


Nomenculture of plants was founded by a Swedish botanist called Linnaeus in 1754.  He devised a binomial system of classification that still used today. This system gives two names to each plant, a generic name and a specific name. These are Latin names, which translate universally across the world.

Linnaeus gave a plant classification system based on flower structure.  This allows any newly discovered plants to be added to the appropriate group.

Plants with same basic structure

Group of plants with very similar plant structures and fruits

Variety of vegetative characteristics  or different growth habits.  Plants of same species are capable of interbreeding and producing new plants similar to parents. Plants of different species are mostly incapable of breeding.

Where plants of different species cross to produce a new plant which has characteristics of both parents.
Bi generic hybrids is a result of crossing two genera, but they are unable to produce viable seed and must be propagated negatively. They are preceded with a 'x' before the generic name e.g. xCupressocyparis leylandii is a cross between Cupressus macrocarpa and Chamaecyparis nootakatensis.

Variety of a species which is not sufficiently different to be another species. Includes notable differences such as larger flowers, smaller leaves or different growth habit.  Can be a naturally occurring variety or a cultivated variety. Naturally occurring varieties include Rosa pimipinellifolia altacica, which is a stronger growing from of Rosa pimpinellifolia. If the change is not carried in seedling varieties and can only be propagated by negative cuttings, then it is considered a cultivated variety or cultivar and is written inside single commas.  For example, the variegated form of Weigela is written as Weigela florida 'Variegata'.

A variation of the parent plant that does not revert back to parent type.  Typical for variegated leaf plants as variegated leaves on plants often do not survive if left uncultivated as the green shoots are always stronger and take over. Cultivars are usually noted as English names rather than Latin.  If the plant is a result of crosses with two species and then recrossed
with further species they cannot breed true from seed or be defined as belonging to a clear species. They will often be recorded without a specific name such as Rosa 'Peace'.

Example of plant nomiculture for a rose:
Family - Rosaceae
Genus - Rosa
Species - Moyesii
Wild variety - Rosa moyesii fargesii
Cultivar - Rosa moyesii 'Geranium'
Hybrid - Rosa x alba

For related articles click onto:
Feeding plants
Herbaceous borders
How to grow seeds indoors
How to propagate using division
Plant names

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