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Scientific plant names

How does a species name look? The name of a species consists of a genus name and a species name. The genus name starts with a capital letter, whereas the species name starts with a small character. Example: Rosa rugosa.

Plant taxonomy, besides regular species and genera, also recognises species hybrids and genus hybrids. A species hybrid is a group of plants deriving from a cross of two or more species. The name of a species hybrid is almost written the same as the name of a species. The only difference is that "a cross sign" stands for the species name. Example: Cytisus x praecox is a species hybrid deriving from a cross between C. multiflorus and C. purgans.

A genus hybrid is a group of plants deriving from a cross between two or more species of several genera. The name of a genus hybrid is generally a selection of the names from the parent genera. Again "a cross sign" is written directly in front of the name. Example: x Fatshedera is a genus hybrid deriving from a cross between a Fatsiaspecies and a Hederaspecies.

It is not convenient to use popular names for international use for a number of reasons. For one plant group it frequently happens that more than one name is in use. It is not clear from a popular name if you are talking about species, genus or family. Popular names are only useful in your own country.The Swedish botanist Linnaeus described a manner to give species names that could be used worldwide. In his system, plant names indeed belong to one group only. Linnaeus lived from 1707 until 1778. He also worked in the Netherlands for a while. In his time scientific books where usually written in Latin. The description of plant species should therefore be in Latin. If everyone would describe plants in another way e.g. language, these descriptions would not be very useful. Before Linnaeus no one did know exactly which plants already had been described, because the same group of plants could been given several names. In his book Species Plantarum (which means: plant species) published on May 1, 1753, Linnaeus for the first time used  plant names consisting of two Latin words.

The first word, starting with a capital, is the indication of the genus. The second word, starting with a small character, is the indication of the species. The genus and species indication  together form the species name. All plant species that belonged to each other according to Linnaeus,  therefore received their own species name and a common genus name.Thus you can already see the relationships by the name. This way of giving names to plants was soon followed by everyone.