Botanical name

A botanical name is a formal scientific name conforming to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and, if it concerns a plant cultigen, the additional cultivar or Group epithets must conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The code of nomenclature covers "all organisms traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants, whether fossil or non-fossil, including blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), chytrids, oomycetes, slime moulds and photosynthetic protists with their taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups (but excluding Microsporidia)."[1]

The purpose of a formal name is to have a single name that is accepted and used worldwide for a particular plant or plant group. For example, the botanical name Bellis perennis denotes a plant species which is native to most of the countries of Europe and the Middle East, where it has accumulated various names in many languages. Later, the plant was introduced worldwide, bringing it into contact with more languages. English names for this plant species include: daisy,[2] English daisy,[3] and lawn daisy.[4] The cultivar Bellis perennis 'Aucubifolia' is a golden-variegated horticultural selection of this species.

English Daisy (Bellis Perennis)
Bellis perennis has one botanical name and many common names, including perennial daisy, lawn daisy, common daisy, and English daisy.

Type specimens and circumscription

The botanical name itself is fixed by a type, which is a particular specimen (or in some cases a group of specimens) of an organism to which the scientific name is formally attached. In other words, a type is an example that serves to anchor or centralize the defining features of that particular taxon.

The usefulness of botanical names is limited by the fact that taxonomic groups are not fixed in size; a taxon may have a varying circumscription, depending on the taxonomic system, thus, the group that a particular botanical name refers to can be quite small according to some people and quite big according to others. For example, the traditional view of the family Malvaceae has been expanded in some modern approaches to include what were formerly considered to be several closely related families. Some botanical names refer to groups that are very stable (for example Equisetaceae, Magnoliaceae) while for other names a careful check is needed to see which circumscription is being used (for example Fabaceae, Amygdaloideae, Taraxacum officinale).

Forms of plant names

Depending on rank, botanical names may be in one part (genus and above), two parts (various situations below the rank of genus) or three parts (below the rank of species). The names of cultivated plants are not necessarily similar to the botanical names, since they may instead involve "unambiguous common names" of species or genera. Cultivated plant names may also have an extra component, bringing a maximum of four parts:

in one part
Plantae (the plants)
Marchantiophyta (the liverworts)
Magnoliopsida (class including the family Magnoliaceae)
Liliidae (subclass including the family Liliaceae)
Pinophyta (the conifers)
Fagaceae (the beech family)
Betula (the birch genus)
in two parts
Acacia subg. Phyllodineae (the wattles)
lchemilla subsect. Heliodrosium
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) a species name, i.e., a combination consisting of a genus name and one epithet
Syringa 'Charisma' – a cultivar within a genus
Hydrangea Lacecap Group – a genus name and Group epithet
Lilium Darkest Red Group – a genus name and Group epithet
Paphiopedilum Greenteaicecreamandraspberries grex
snowdrop 'John Gray' – an unambiguous common name for the genus Galanthus and a cultivar epithet
in three parts
Calystegia sepium subsp. americana (American hedge bindweed), a combination consisting of a genus name and two epithets
Crataegus azarolus var. pontica (a Mediterranean hawthorn)
Bellis perennis 'Aucubifolia' – a cultivar
Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group – a species name and Group epithet
in four parts
Scilla hispanica var. campanulata 'Rose Queen' – a cultivar within a botanical variety
apart from cultivars, the name of a plant can never have more than three parts.

Components of plant names

A botanical name in three parts, i.e., an infraspecific name (a name for a taxon below the rank of species) needs a "connecting term" to indicate rank. In the Calystegia example above, this is "subsp.", for subspecies. In botany there are many ranks below that of species (in zoology there is only one such rank, subspecies, so that this "connecting term" is not used in zoology). A name of a "subdivision of a genus" also needs a connecting term (in the Acacia example above, this is "subg.", subgenus). The connecting term is not part of the name itself.

A taxon may be indicated by a listing in more than three parts: "Saxifraga aizoon var. aizoon subvar. brevifolia f. multicaulis subf. surculosa Engl. & Irmsch." but this is a classification, not a formal botanical name. The botanical name is Saxifraga aizoon subf. surculosa Engl. & Irmsch. (ICN Art 24: Ex 1).

Generic, specific, and infraspecific botanical names are usually printed in italics. The example set by the ICN is to italicize all botanical names, including those above genus, though the ICN preface states: "The Code sets no binding standard in this respect, as typography is a matter of editorial style and tradition not of nomenclature". Most peer-reviewed scientific botanical publications do not italicize names above the rank of genus, and non-botanical scientific publications do not, which is in keeping with two of the three other kinds of scientific name: zoological and bacterial (viral names above genus are italicized, a new policy adopted in the early 1990s).

For botanical nomenclature, the ICN prescribes a two-part name or binary name for any taxon below the rank of genus down to, and including the rank of species. Taxa below the rank of species get a three part (infraspecific name).

A binary name consists of the name of a genus and an epithet.

  • In the case of a species this is a specific epithet:
Bellis perennis is the name of a species, in which perennis is the specific epithet. There is no connecting term involved, to indicate the rank.
  • In the case of a subdivision of a genus (subgenus, section, subsection, series, subseries, etc.) the name consists of the name of a genus and a subdivisional epithet. A connecting term should be placed before the subdivisional epithet to indicate the rank:
Paraserianthes sect. Falcataria

In the case of cultivated plants, there is an additional epithet which is an often non-Latin part, not written in italics. For cultivars, it is always given in single quotation marks. The cultivar, Group, or grex epithet may follow either the botanical name of the species, or the name of the genus only, or the unambiguous common name of the genus or species. The generic name, followed by a cultivar name, is often used when the parentage of a particular hybrid cultivar is not relevant in the context, or is uncertain.

See also

(specific to botany)

(more general)


  1. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04.
  2. ^ Ecological Flora of the British Isles Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Bellis perennis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  4. ^ L. B. McCarty (15 January 2001). Color Atlas of Turfgrass Weeds. John Wiley & Sons. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-57504-142-1. Archived from the original on 2 May 2016.


External links


In the APG IV system (2016) for the classification of flowering plants, the name asterids denotes a clade (a monophyletic group). Common examples include the forget-me-nots, nightshades (including potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and tobacco), the common sunflower, petunias, morning glory and sweet potato, coffee, lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, honeysuckle, ash tree, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, table herbs such as mint, basil, and rosemary, and rainforest trees such as Brazil nut.

Most of the taxa belonging to this clade had been referred to the Asteridae in the Cronquist system (1981) and to the Sympetalae in earlier systems. The name asterids (not necessarily capitalised) resembles the earlier botanical name but is intended to be the name of a clade rather than a formal ranked name, in the sense of the ICBN.

Author citation (botany)

In botanical nomenclature, author citation refers to citing the person or group of people who validly published a botanical name, i.e. who first published the name while fulfilling the formal requirements as specified by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). In cases where a species is no longer in its original generic placement (i.e. a new combination of genus and specific epithet), both the author(s) of the original genus placement and those of the new combination are given (the former in parentheses).

In botany, it is customary (though not obligatory) to abbreviate author names according to a recognised list of standard abbreviations.

There are differences between the botanical code and the normal practice in zoology. In zoology, the publication year is given following the author name(s) and the authorship of a new combination is normally omitted. A small number of more specialized practices also vary between the recommendations of the botanical and zoological codes.


Caesalpinioideae is a botanical name at the rank of subfamily, placed in the large family Fabaceae or Leguminosae. Its name is formed from the generic name Caesalpinia. It is known also as the peacock flower subfamily. The Caesalpinioideae are mainly trees distributed in the moist tropics, but include such temperate species as the honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus). It has the following clade-based definition:

The most inclusive crown clade containing Arcoa gonavensis Urb. and Mimosa pudica L., but not Bobgunnia fistuloides (Harms) J. H. Kirkbr. & Wiersema, Duparquetia orchidacea Baill., or Poeppigia procera C.Presl In some classifications, for example the Cronquist system, the group is recognized at the rank of family, Caesalpiniaceae.

Distinguishing characters:

Specialised extrafloral nectaries often present on the petiole and / or on the primary and secondary rachises, usually between pinnae or leaflet pairs

Leaves commonly bipinnate

Inflorescences globose, spicate

Aestivation valvate

Anthers often with a stipitate or sessile apical gland

Pollen commonly in tetrads, bitetrads or polyads

Seeds usually with an open or closed pleurogram on both faces

Root nodules variably present and indeterminate

Claygate Pearmain

Claygate Pearmain is an apple cultivar. It was found at Claygate, Surrey in England and brought to the attention of the Royal Horticultural Society by John Braddick in 1821. The apple was a popular eating apple in Victorian times and spread through England and to America.

The apple was found by John Braddick, growing in a hedge at Claygate. Braddick also discovered the 'Braddick Nonpareil' at around the same time and place.

This medium-sized apple is brown-russeted with a crimson patch on the sun-facing side. There is pink-silver tinge to the russet scale. It has a nutty aromatic flavour and good keeping qualities, being both disease and scab resistant.

Claygate Pearmain is self-sterile and requires a pollinator to produce a crop but is a heavy bearer that should be harvested late in the season.

Botanical name - Malus domestica "Claygate Pearmain"

Clive A. Stace

Clive Anthony Stace (born 1938) is a British botanist and botanical author. His academic career was based at the University of Leicester, where he held the post of Professor of Plant taxonomy. He is a past president of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

In 2012 a newly described grass species, Brachypodium stacei (previously regarded as a form of purple false brome), was named in his honour.He has also been responsible for a number of notable publications relating to the vascular plant flora of Britain and Ireland:

Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles

New Flora of the British Isles

Vice-county Census Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Great Britain

Alien PlantsHe also wrote the student textbook Plant Taxonomy and Biosystematics.


Commelinales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants. It comprises five families: Commelinaceae, Haemodoraceae, Hanguanaceae, Philydraceae, and Pontederiaceae. All the families combined contain over 885 species in about 70 genera; the majority of species are in the Commelinaceae. Plants in the order share a number of synapomorphies that tie them together, such as a lack of mycorrhizal associations and tapetal raphides. Estimates differ as to when the Comminales evolved, but most suggest an origin and diversification sometime during the mid- to late Cretaceous. Depending on the methods used, studies suggest a range of origin between 123 and 73 million years, with diversification occurring within the group 110 to 66 million years ago. The order's closest relatives are in the Zingiberales, which includes ginger, bananas, cardamom, and others.

Correct name

In botany, the correct name according to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the one and only botanical name that is to be used for a particular taxon, when that taxon has a particular circumscription, position and rank. Determining whether a name is correct is a complex procedure. The name must be validly published, a process which is defined in no less than 16 Articles of the ICN. It must also be "legitimate", which imposes some further requirements. If there are two or more legitimate names for the same taxon (with the same circumscription, position and rank), then the correct name is the one which has priority, i.e. it was published earliest, although names may be conserved if they have been very widely used. Validly published names other than the correct name are called synonyms. Since taxonomists may disagree as to the circumscription, position or rank of a taxon, there can be more than one correct name for a particular plant. These may also be called synonyms.

The correct name has only one correct spelling, which will generally be the original spelling (although certain limited corrections are allowed). Other spellings are called orthographical variants.The zoological equivalent of "correct name" is "valid name".

Cultivar group

A Group (previously cultivar-group) is a formal category in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) used for cultivated plants (cultivars) that share a defined characteristic. It is represented in a botanical name by the symbol Group or Gp. "Group" or "Gp" is always written with a capital G in a botanical name, or epithet. The Group is not italicized in a plant's name. The ICNCP introduced the term and symbol "Group" in 2004, as a replacement for the lengthy and hyphenated "cultivar-group", which had previously been the category's name since 1969. For the old name "cultivar-group", the non-standard abbreviation cv. group or cv. Group is also sometimes encountered. There is a slight difference in meaning, since a cultivar-group was defined to comprise cultivars, whereas a Group may include individual plants.The ICNCP distinguishes between the terms "group" and "Group", a "group" being "an informal taxon not recognized in the ICBN", while a "Group" is the formal taxon defined by the ICNCP (see above).This categorization does not apply to plant taxonomy generally, only to horticultural and agricultural contexts. Any given Group may have a different taxonomic classification, such as a subspecific name (typically a form or variety name, given in italics) after the genus and species.

A Group is usually united by a distinct common trait, and often includes members of more than one species within a genus. For example, early flowering cultivars in the genus Iris form the Iris Dutch Group. A plant species that loses its taxonomic status in botany, but still has agricultural or horticultural value, meets the criteria for a cultivar group, and its former botanical name can be reused as the name of its cultivar group. For example, Hosta fortunei is usually no longer recognized as a species, and the ICNCP states that the epithet fortunei can be used to form Hosta Fortunei Group.

Jean Louis Marie Poiret

Jean Louis Marie Poiret (11 June 1755 in Saint-Quentin – 7 April 1834 in Paris) was a French clergyman, botanist and explorer.

From 1785 to 1786 he was sent by Louis XVI to Algeria to study the flora. After the French Revolution he became a professor of natural history at the Écoles Centrale of Aisne.

The genus Poiretia of the legume family Fabaceae was named after him in 1807 by Étienne Pierre Ventenat.

Joseph Maiden

Joseph Henry Maiden (25 April 1859 – 16 November 1925) was a botanist who made a major contribution to knowledge of the Australian flora, especially the Eucalyptus genus. This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Maiden when citing a botanical name.

Kevin Thiele

Kevin R. Thiele was curator of the Western Australian Herbarium until 2015. His research interests include the systematics of the plant families Proteaceae, Rhamnaceae and Violaceae, and the conservation ecology of grassy woodland ecosystems. He is also interested in biodiversity informatics, and is involved in the design of software for the Global Biodiversity Infrastructure Facility.He obtained a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1993, and has since had a number of publications, notably a treatment of the Rhamnaceae for the Flora of Australia series of monographs, and, with Pauline Ladiges, a taxonomic arrangement of Banksia. In 2007 he collaborated with Austin Mast to transfer Dryandra to Banksia.He uploaded over 2000 images to Wikipedia Commons of Western Australian plants and their components.

Leslie Pedley

Leslie Pedley (born 1930) is an Australian botanist who specialised in the genus Acacia. He is notable for bringing into use the generic name Racosperma, foreshadowing a split in the genus with the Australian species requiring to be renamed.


Magnoliopsida is a valid botanical name for a class of flowering plants. By definition the class will include the family Magnoliaceae, but its circumscription can otherwise vary, being more inclusive or less inclusive depending upon the classification system being discussed.


Malvoideae is a botanical name at the rank of subfamily, which includes in the minimum the genus Malva. It was first used by Burnett in 1835, but was not much used until recently, where, within the framework of the APG System, which unites the families Malvaceae, Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae of the Cronquist system, the aggregate family Malvaceae is divided into 9 subfamilies, including Malvoideae. The Malvoideae of Kubitzki and Bayer includes 4 tribes:-

Malveae (Abutilon, Alcea, Malva, Sidalcea etc.)

Gossypieae (Gossypium, the cottons etc.)

Hibisceae (Hibiscus etc.)


- and two unplaced genera:-


HowittiaBaum et al. have a wider concept (cladistically, all those plants more closely related to Malva sylvestris than to Bombax ceiba) of Malvoideae, which includes additionally the tribe Matisieae (three genera of Neotropical trees) and the genera Lagunaria, Camptostemon, Pentaplaris and Uladendron.


Piperales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants. It necessarily includes the family Piperaceae but otherwise has been treated variously over time. Well-known plants which may be included in this order include black pepper, kava, lizard's tail, birthwort, and wild ginger.


Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants, sometimes also called sugarbushes (Afrikaans: suikerbos) or fynbos. In local tradition, the protea flower represents change and hope.


Proteales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants consisting of two (or three) families. The Proteales have been recognized by almost all taxonomists.

Sereno Watson

Sereno Watson (December 1, 1826 in East Windsor Hill, Connecticut – March 9, 1892 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American botanist.

Graduating from Yale in 1847 in Biology, he drifted through various occupations until, in California, he joined the Clarence King Expedition and eventually became its expedition botanist. Appointed by Asa Gray as assistant in the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University in 1873, he later became its curator, a position he maintained until his death. Watson was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1874, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1889.

Stephen Hopper

Stephen Donald Hopper AC FLS FTSE (born 18 June 1951) is a Western Australian botanist, graduated in Biology, specialising in conservation biology and vascular plants. He has written eight books, and has over 200 publications to his name. He was Director of Kings Park in Perth for seven years, and CEO of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for five. He is currently Foundation Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at The University of Western Australia. He was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 2006 to 2012.This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Hopper when citing a botanical name.

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