All about Botanical Names of Plants

Understanding Botanical Plant Names

Note: This is a PB260 version that has corrected text

Plants, like any other living organism, are given botanical names based on an internationally accepted system for naming each unique and distinct plant, whether natural or cultivated. This system, developed by the 18th century botanist Carl Linnaeus, provides a first name called the "genus" and a second name called a "species". This provides people world-wide, a way to refer to a distinctly identified and classified plant using the same accepted name. The advantage is that common names ascribed to plants - which are easier to remember - cause much confusion when used to refer to several different plants. In addition to these two names, plants fall into distinct families (a classification higher and broader than genus) and into subdivisions below the species level to name forms and varieties of plants which share common species characteristics.

A list of some of the commonly used names

When you see the botanical names of plants and related cultivars, often the Latin derived name is descriptive of their ornamental features.

Original (uncorrected) version of this page

Please return to ORNAMENTAL HORTICULTURE FOR THE HOUSTON/CLEAR LAKE AREAfor more horticultural information.