Understanding Botanical Plant Names

Understanding Botanical Plant Names

The naming of fern species was based on the findings of botanists, who, over time, established the true relationships of the different species by constant research.

Botanical names always appear formidable at first sight, until one gets used to them, and they may be one of the reasons for discouraging the gardener from favouring ferns; but it is the first shock which is the worst! Names gradually become familiar, until eventually they trip off the tongue like musical cadenzas, to the admiration of one’s friends.

Dahlia Flowers - understanding botanical plant names After all, antirrhinum, campanula, crocus, chrysanthemum, dahlia, delphinium, dianthus, narcissus, primula, viola, and hosts of others all are strictly botanical names which have become household words through familiar use; and many gardeners can spell Eschscholzia and Siphon osmanthus without batting an eyelid. Furthermore, botanical names are valid the world over, whereas popular names may vary from one parish to the next; in fact, one popular name may stand for different plants in different districts, causing endless confusion. Again, botanical names are concise and, generally, descriptive. Two such names are sufficient to determine any typical species of plant, internationally. A third name may be necessary to denote a recognized variety of such a species, especially a variety found in the wild.

Under the international rules of nomenclature, new varieties which have been raised in cultivation, are called ‘cultivars’ and must be given proper names; for instance, Delphinium sinense ‘Blue Butterfly’. But plants which have been given botanical varietal names prior to laying down of the present rules are not affected. This is fair enough in the case of flowering plants such as roses, herbaceous plants, annuals and the like; but in the case of ferns, where new varieties consist of new or further elaborations of frond form, concise descriptive botanical adjectives might be less confusing than a plethora of fanciful proper names, especially in the international field.


08. May 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Ferns, Plants & Trees | Tags: | Comments Off on Understanding Botanical Plant Names


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