Botanical Name – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Botanical Terms Glossary

What is a Botanical Name?

A botanical name, also known as a scientific name or Latin name, is a formal name given to a plant species according to the rules of botanical nomenclature. It is used to uniquely identify a specific plant species and is composed of two parts: the genus name and the species name. For example, in the botanical name for the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus, “Helianthus” is the genus name and “annuus” is the species name.

How are Botanical Names Formed?

Botanical names are formed using a system called binomial nomenclature, which was developed by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century. According to this system, each plant species is given a unique two-part name based on its genus and species. The genus name is always capitalized and italicized, while the species name is written in lowercase and italicized. Both names are usually derived from Latin or Greek words and are often descriptive of the plant’s characteristics or habitat.

Why are Botanical Names Important?

Botanical names are important because they provide a standardized and universally recognized way of identifying plant species. They help to avoid confusion that can arise from using common names, which can vary from region to region and language to language. Botanical names also provide valuable information about the relationships between different plant species and help to facilitate communication among botanists, horticulturists, and other plant enthusiasts.

What is the Difference Between Botanical Names and Common Names?

The main difference between botanical names and common names is that botanical names are standardized and based on a formal system of nomenclature, while common names are informal and can vary widely. Common names are often based on local traditions, folklore, or physical characteristics of the plant, which can lead to confusion when trying to identify a specific species. Botanical names, on the other hand, are unique to each plant species and provide a clear and unambiguous way of referring to them.

How are Botanical Names Used in the Field of Botany?

Botanical names are used extensively in the field of botany for the classification, identification, and study of plant species. They are used in scientific publications, botanical databases, herbarium collections, and plant breeding programs to ensure accurate and precise communication about plant species. Botanists use botanical names to describe new species, document plant distributions, and conduct research on plant evolution, ecology, and conservation.

What is the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN)?

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is a set of rules and guidelines that govern the naming of plant species. It was first established in 1867 and has been periodically revised to reflect advances in botanical science. The ICN provides a standardized framework for the formation, publication, and acceptance of botanical names, ensuring that they are stable, consistent, and universally recognized. Botanists and other plant scientists around the world adhere to the ICN to maintain the integrity and accuracy of botanical nomenclature.