Botanic Nomenclature/Resources

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State how plant names are given or changed

All plants have a scientific name or botanic name and we use a two name classification system.This two name system or binomial system was kicked into action by a botanist and explorer who would have turned 300 in May 2007.His name is Carl Linnaeus and he called the system for dividing all plants , animals , and minerals into three separate kingdoms the "Systema Naturae". Linnaeus felt he could improve on the system which named plants according to what they looked like.For example, before the binomial system was introduced if you popped into the shop to ask for catnip you would ask for Nepetus floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatiss! Which in latin means Nepeta with flowers on an uninterrupted spike that is cat like.The binomial system is a bit more succinct; look up the botanic name for catnip and you will see what I mean.

So Linnaeus was responsible for refining a classification system using a hierarchical scheme which included kingdom , class , order , genus, and species and then he looked at the shared characteristics as the next step in standardizing a classification system. He used the system to categorize thousands of plants, animals, fish and shellfish.He also spread the idea to fellow explorers and scientists who picked up the ball and ran with it so eventually plants and animals from all over the world were classified using the binomial system.

There are two codes for naming plants:

The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature International Code of Botanical Nomenclature

The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants

Plants sometimes have to be re-named and the reasons are as follows Naming Regulations

Use correct nomenclature for naming plants

Three reasons why hortykim likes botanic nomenclature:

The reason I like botanic names or botanical names (botanic and botanical are both acceptable)is that they are more reliable than common names.For example in my duties as a horticulture technician I may be asked to go to a local nursery and purchase a pepper tree. When I ask the nursery worker to direct me to a pepper tree I may be presented with four completely different plants! Would madame like the Pseudowintera colorata , Macropiper excelsum , Schinus mollee var. areira, or the Piper nigrum

Common names are an acceptable way of communicating about plants and often they descibe some notable feature about that plant.For example , tree fern , is going to give you a pretty good idea of what type of plant you may be talking about . However, once you start to delve into the world of botanic names you will soon start to realize that a botanic name may give information about a plant' structure , characteristics , geographic location ,who discovered the plant, or perhaps what family of plants it may belong to.

Plant names ,botanic names ,botanic nomenclature ,scientific plant names , the binomial system are all ways of describing the two name way of recognizing plants.In fact in horticulture there is often many ways or terms for describing the same thing but thankfully with plant names there is no confusion and an even more clear cut aspect of botanic names is that they are international so botanists and horticulturists from all parts of the world will refer to the same botanic name for any given plant.Absolutely no confusion will result. A Cyathea dealbata in New Zealand will be a Cyathea dealbata in France.

How plants are classified

Use this helpful glossary which explains over 1,000 root words contained within botanic names which will help you remember them.

Identify four unfamiliar plants

An identification key can be really helpful when you are trying to figure out what kind of plant you may be looking at. The following definition from wikipedia is quite good. Check out the activities page for some neat exercises using dichotomous keys.
Definition of an Indentification Key from Wikipedia An identification key is a device on paper or computer that aids identification of a plant species or other type of entity. Though commonly used for identifying biological specimens, keys have also been applied to diseases, rock and mineral specimens, etc. Traditionally identification keys have most commonly taken the form of dichtomous keys. A dichotomous key works by offering two alternatives at each juncture, and the choice of one of those alternatives determines the next step (more than two choices yields a polychotomous pathway key). For each level of distinction, there is normally a further indent. Some keys use different numbering systems. In contrast to dichotomous keys, interactive keys are computerized random-access or multi-access identification keys, or polyclaves. An interactive key works by allowing a computer user to select or enter information about the specimen in hand in any order allowing the computer to rule out possibilities and present further choices and information on the computer screen [1].

General resources