Linnaeus’s naming system helps to eliminate confusion. Apparently, there are more than 245 names for the white water lily in the English, Dutch, German and French languages alone. In Linnaeus’s—and now our—world, there’s just one name: Nymphaea alba. If you know a little about the Latin language, the names often (always?) describe features, attributes and colors of a plant, e.g., alba, not too surprisingly, refers to “white.”
Yard, Garden & Patio Show, especially in the Remarkable Green Market. Not knowing the Latin names of plants shouldn’t diminish your delight in finding that special plant, but having a greater understanding of how plants are named might make your visit to the show that much more interesting.
Linnaeus arranged species and genera (groups of related species) into a hierarchical system. Species are reproductively isolated populations of organisms. Of course there are exceptions and those exceptions are denoted with an “x” in the name, e.g., Acer rubrum x Acer saccharinum. After Linnaeus, several other classification categories came into use: “Family”, which describes a group of related genera, and “cultivars” for cultivated varieties.
• The first letter of the genus name is always capitalized, e.g., Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir)
• The first letter of the species name isn’t capitalized
• Both parts of the name are italicized or underlined
• The cultivar name is designated between single quotes and is not italicized, e.g., Abies balsamea ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Balsam Fir)
Knowing how plants are related can help with plant problem diagnostics and infectious disease control. Bacterial fireblight, for example, occurs only on genera in the Rosaceae family. Related genera in the Rosaceae family include Rosa (rose), Malus (apple), Sorbus (mountain ash) and Crataegus (hawthorn), among others.
pronunciation guide if you want to hear how a Latin plant name is pronounced.)