Plant Naming Rules

Monday, November 01, 2010
The International Code of Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants

To simplify and universalize the description of all living things in the plant and animal kingdoms, Carl Linnaeus devised the binomial nomenclature system to describe each living species with a unique name. The following are examples of how Treeland Nurseries uses his rules to enter botanical names into the database. Some of the traditional rules have been modified to accommodate the computer system and therefore the system expressed here should not be followed for technical writings.

i.e. "Ivory Feathers™" Dwarf Pampas Grass - Common Name
GRASS - Cortadera selloana 'Pumila' - Botanical Name

Family - A group of plants that are closely related and that share similar flower structures.
Family names are written in all upper case. In the database the family groups that are used are: BAMBOO, CACTUS, GRASS, ICE PLANT, & PALM

Genus - A group of plants, within a family, that are structurally or phytogenetically related.
Genus names always have the first letter capitalized, and is underlined when handwritten or is italicized in print. Genus names usually end with -um. i.e. Cercidium & Leucophyllum

Species - A group of similar organisms, within a genus, capable of inter-breeding.
Species names include the genus name written first and describes a feature of the plant, the location of its natural habitat, and/or the name of its discoverer. The species suffixes in our database are written in all lower case. If two words are used for the species suffix, they are combined by using a hyphen between the two words (i.e. unguis-cati & agnus-castus.) When the species of a plant is not known, the genus name may be followed by sp.

Variety - A subdivision in a species where there are morphological differences within plants that are wild or domesticated.
The variety name (italicized or underlined) follows the species suffix and the letters 'var.' (not italicized.)

Sub-Species - Similar to a variety but cataloged by discovering scientist as subspecies.
The sub-species name (italicized or underlined) follows the species suffix and the letters 'ssp.' (not italicized.)

Cultivar - Plants that remain genetically true, clones or lines.
The cultivar name follows the species suffix and is always capitalized and is not underlined or italicized. It may be written as 'cv. Name' or just the name within single quotes.

Hybrid - The genetically mixed offspring of a plant that differs from its parents in one or more characteristics.
When the hybrid takes place within a species, there is a multiplication symbol (X) written after the species suffix. If the hybrid takes place between two different species, the X goes between the genus and species names. i.e. Baccharis p. X s. 'Centennial'

Plant Patent Numbers - The number granted by the United States patent office to an applicant for a plant with unique characteristics.
The plant patent number is the last part of the plant epitaph and is written as PP####. i.e. Olea europaea 'Swan Hill' PP3197

Trade Marks - The granting by the United States patent office to an applicant of a unique descriptive name.
The letters (TM) or ™ are directly after the trade marked name which is written in quotes in the botanical name and without quotes in the common name. i.e. TROPICANNA (TM) CANNA LILY