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How Plants Get Their Names?

Plants

When we see plants for sale, they are usually accompanied by a more complex, long name. That’s why understanding plant names can be quite difficult for a lot of people, especially if you’re new to something like this.

Why do plants have Latin names?

In order to maintain a correct organization of plants, they receive Latin names. This is seen as the correct botanical naming of plants. Usually, these names are based on the plant kinship with other plants, even if they are not extremely similar to each other. The plant identification is based on how the plants relate to one another, the bloom and leaf characteristics, arrangement and other factors. So even if two plants don’t look the same, they might have a lot of common traits. And those are the things that really make a difference in a situation like this.

Common names can give you a clue when it comes to what and how a plant was used in the past. All the little things matter and you get to have a better understanding of the process. But there are common names that can be misleading, in some regions you can have the same plant with a different name.

How are the botanical names derived?

It’s important to keep in mind the fact that Greeks and Romans are the ones that created plant naming simply by describing either the use of the plant or a certain characteristic. With that being said, this approach continued well into the middle ages, while making sure that they retained some of the main elements related to the flower, be it the name, style, or any other factors.

It was during the 18th century when Carl Linnaeus, who was a naturalist at that time, was able to create a scientific system for plant naming. We are actually using the same system that he created today, so it’s certainly an interesting factor. With that being said, the way he classified these plants was via giving each plant 2 names. The first name was the genus, and the second one was more specific to the plant.

In doing so, he was able to avoid situations when a plant would have a name very similar to another plant. By having 2 words instead of one, every plant name is a lot easier to understand and differentiate, which is exactly the type of thing that makes it stand out in the first place. Of course, if the plant characteristics are similar, they are a part of a certain genus. It’s great because you have all the interesting, unique plant names which stand out, while also knowing what genus it comes from in the first place.

Other terms you can find relating to plant names

What’s interesting about the naming system is that it’s designed to be diverse and interesting, and it constantly pushes the limits in a way that’s creative and enjoyable. You want to push the limits and ensure that you have access to the right approach and experience here.

The family name for a plant isn’t a part of the plant name most of the time, but it will have a capital letter from it within the name. Then we have SP, which is used to discuss an unspecified species, even if it’s a part of a specific genus, which is super important to focus on.

That being said, subspecies also matter when it comes to plant naming, because they show if you have a variant. Some variants will appear due to the overall location. In some cases you will find plant variants that are growing near an island, others are coastal, and some grow in the mountains. Having these variations is great and it also makes it easier to fully narrow down everything the way you want without any worries.

Some of the other things to consider here are the forma, which is the different variations in the leaf, or flower color. These variations are usually minor, but they can differentiate one plant from another, and it’s definitely a thing to make it stand out and appear different. You can also find hybrids, which are known for being 2 plant species that are cross-fertilized. When that happens, you get to have a hybrid.

Things to consider regarding plant naming

Generally, writing plant names comes with its own set of different rules. You have the genus, which begins with a capital letter, and it’s also italicized. It’s actually seen as a noun. The epithet is italicized and lowercase as well. Then if you have a variety of this, it’s denoted with Var, and once you have that you add the name in italics and lowercase.

If you do have a hybrid, you add an X before the epithet and you italicize too. Cultivars have a capital letter, and you can add it within single quotation marks. When it comes to an authority, you have the species name and it’s abbreviated.

There are amazing plants like the Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or the ZZ plant, the Philodendron Monstera deliciosa, Chlorophytum Comosum, Chamaedorea Elegans or Epipremnum Aureum. Every plant has its own differences when it comes to naming and it certainly impresses you with its defining ideas and features. It’s one of those things that truly stands out when it comes to plant naming.

Conclusion

As you can see, the way plants get their names is very different and interesting. But it certainly shows that there’s a naming system in place, one that has already been in use for hundreds of years. The system is correct and helpful because it differentiates plants even if they are very similar to one another. With that in mind, understanding the name of each plant can be very challenging at first.

However, if you study the way this naming system was created, it’s very easy to understand and it will eliminate a lot of misconceptions. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to check these out and then see which plant sounds the most interesting to you. We think that this naming system will continue to stand out and it’s certainly something a lot more interesting than you would expect. It’s not very difficult once you understand the system, although the naming rules we shared above can make the process a bit more complex and challenging!

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