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Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this process. The starting point for modern botanical nomenclature is
Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomia ...

Linnaeus
' ''
Species Plantarum ' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, i ...
'' of 1753. Botanical nomenclature is governed by the ''
International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants The ''International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants'' (ICN) is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name Science (from the Latin Latin (, ...
'' (''ICN''), which replaces the ''International Code of Botanical Nomenclature'' (''ICBN''). Fossil plants are also covered by the code of nomenclature. Within the limits set by that code there is another set of rules, the '' International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP)'' which applies to plant cultivars that have been deliberately altered or selected by humans (see
cultigen A cultigen (from the Latin ''cultus'' – cultivated, and ''gens'' – kind) or cultivated plant is a plant that has been deliberately altered or selected by humans; it is the result of artificial selection. These plants, for the most part, have co ...
).


History and scope

Botanical nomenclature has a long history, going back beyond the period when Latin was the scientific language throughout Europe, to
Theophrastus Theophrastus (; grc-gre, Θεόφραστος ; c. 371c. 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos Eresos (; el, Ερεσός; grc, Ἔρεσος) and its twin beach village Skala Eresou are located in the southwest part of the Greek island of Le ...

Theophrastus
(c. 370–287 BC),
Dioscorides Pedanius Dioscorides ( grc-gre, Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ; 40–90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of '' De materia medica'' (, On Medical Material) —a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal m ...

Dioscorides
(c. 40 – 90 AD) and other
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
writers. Many of these works have come down to us in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
translations. The principal Latin writer on botany was
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
(23–79 AD). From Mediaeval times, Latin became the universal scientific language (
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
) in Europe. Most written plant knowledge was the property of monks, particularly
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
, and the purpose of those early
herbals A herbal is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their medicinal, Herbal tonic, tonic, culinary, toxic, hallucinatory, aromatic, or Magic (paranormal), magical powers, and the legends associated with ...
was primarily medicinal rather than plant science ''per se''. It would require the invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
(1450) to make such information more widely available.
Leonhart Fuchs Leonhart Fuchs (; 17 January 1501 – 10 May 1566), sometimes spelled Leonhard Fuchs, was a German physician and botanist. His chief notability is as the author of a large book about plants and their uses as medicines, a herbal A herbal is a ...

Leonhart Fuchs
, a German physician and botanist is often considered the originator of Latin names for the rapidly increasing number of plants known to science. For instance he coined the name ''
Digitalis '' ''Digitalis'' ( or ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classific ...

Digitalis
'' in his '' De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes'' (1542). A key event was
Linnaeus’
Linnaeus’
adoption of
binomial names In Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy, binomial nomenclature ("two-term naming system"), also called nomenclature ("two-name naming system") or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name compose ...
for plant species in his ''Species Plantarum'' (1753). In the nineteenth century it became increasingly clear that there was a need for rules to govern scientific nomenclature, and initiatives were taken to refine the body of laws initiated by Linnaeus. These were published in successively more sophisticated editions. For plants, key dates are 1867 (''lois'' de Candolle) and 1906 (''International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature'', 'Vienna Rules'). The most recent is the ''Shenzhen Code'', adopted in 2018. Another development was the insight into the delimitation of the concept of 'plant'. Gradually more and more groups of organisms are being recognised as being independent of plants. Nevertheless, the formal names of most of these organisms are governed by the (ICN), even today. Some
protist A protist () is any eukaryotic Eukaryotes () are organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are c ...
s that do not fit easily into either plant or animal categories are treated under either or both of the ICN and the
ICZN The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is a widely accepted convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * C ...
. A separate ''Code'' was adopted to govern the nomenclature of Bacteria, the ''
International Code of Nomenclature of BacteriaThe International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) formerly the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (ICNB) or Bacteriological Code (BC) governs the scientific names for Bacteria and Archaea.P. H. A. Sneath, 2003. A short history ...
''.


Relationship to taxonomy

Botanical nomenclature is closely linked to plant taxonomy, and botanical nomenclature serves plant taxonomy, but nevertheless botanical nomenclature is separate from plant taxonomy. Botanical nomenclature is merely the body of rules prescribing which name applies to that taxon (see
correct name In botany, the correct name according to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the one and only botanical name that is to be used for a particular taxon, when that taxon has a particular Circumscription (taxono ...
) and if a new name may (or must) be coined. Plant
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
is an empirical science, a science that determines what constitutes a particular
taxon In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...
(taxonomic grouping, plural: taxa): e.g. "What plants belong to this species?" and "What species belong to this genus?". The definition of the limits of a taxon is called its '
circumscription Circumscription may refer to: *Circumscribed circle *Circumscription (logic) *Circumscription (taxonomy) *Circumscription theory, a theory about the origins of the political state in the history of human evolution proposed by the American anthropol ...
'. For a particular taxon, if two taxonomists agree exactly on its circumscription,
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "rank ...
and position (i.e. the higher rank in which it is included) then there is only one name which can apply under the ''ICN''. Where they differ in opinion on any of these issues, one and the same plant may be placed in taxa with different names. As an example, consider Siehe's Glory-of-the-Snow, ''
Chionodoxa siehei ''Scilla forbesii'', known as Forbes' glory-of-the-snow, is a bulbous perennial plant from west Turkey flowering in early spring. It is considered synonymous with ''Scilla siehei'', known as Siehe's glory-of-the-snow, by some sources, although ...
'': * Taxonomists can disagree as to whether two groups of plants are sufficiently distinct to be put into one species or not. Thus ''
Chionodoxa siehei ''Scilla forbesii'', known as Forbes' glory-of-the-snow, is a bulbous perennial plant from west Turkey flowering in early spring. It is considered synonymous with ''Scilla siehei'', known as Siehe's glory-of-the-snow, by some sources, although ...
'' and '' Chionodoxa forbesii'' have been treated as a single species by some taxonomists or as two species by others., p. 5 If treated as one species, the earlier published name must be used,McNeill et al. 2012, Principle III so plants previously called ''Chionodoxa siehei'' become ''Chionodoxa forbesii''. * Taxonomists can disagree as to whether two genera are sufficiently distinct to be kept separate or not. While agreeing that the genus '' Chionodoxa'' is closely related to the genus ''
Scilla ''Scilla'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including thei ...

Scilla
'', nevertheless the bulb specialist
Brian Mathew Brian Frederick Mathew MBE, VMH is a British botanist, born in the village of Limpsfield, Surrey, England. His particular area of expertise is bulb, bulbous plants, particularly ornamental bulbous plants, although he has contributed to other fie ...
considers that their differences warrant maintaining separate genera. Others disagree, and would refer to ''Chionodoxa siehei'' as ''Scilla siehei''. The earliest published genus name must be used when genera are merged; in this case ''Scilla'' was published earlier and is used (not ''Chionodoxa''). * Taxonomists can disagree as to the limits of families. When the
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, or APG, is an informal international group of systematic botanists who collaborate to establish a consensus on the taxonomy of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyt ...
(APG) first published its classification of the flowering plants in 1998, ''Chionodoxa siehei'' would have been placed in the family Hyacinthaceae. In the 2009 revision of their classification, the APG no longer recognize the Hyacinthaceae as a separate family, merging it into a greatly enlarged family
Asparagaceae Asparagaceae is a Family (biology), family of flowering plants, placed in the Order (biology), order Asparagales of the monocots. Its best known member is ''Asparagus officinalis'', garden asparagus. Taxonomy In earlier classification systems, ...
. Thus ''Chionodoxa siehei'' moves from the Hyacinthaceae to the Asparagaceae. * Taxonomists can disagree as to the rank of a taxon. Rather than allow the Hyacinthaceae to disappear altogether, Chase et al. suggested that it be treated as a subfamily within the Asparagaceae. The ''ICN'' requires family names to end with "-aceae" and subfamily names to end with "-oideae".McNeill et al. 2012, Article 19.1 Thus a possible name for the Hyacinthaceae when treated as a subfamily would be 'Hyacinthoideae'. However, the name
Scilloideae Scilloideae (named after the genus ''Scilla'', "squill") is a subfamily of bulbous plants within the family ''Asparagaceae''. Scilloideae is sometimes treated as a separate family Hyacinthaceae, named after the genus ''Hyacinth (plant), Hyacinthus' ...
had already been published in 1835 as the name for a subfamily containing the genus ''Scilla'', so this name has priority and must be used. Hence for those taxonomists who accept the APG system of 2009, ''Chionodoxa siehei'' can be placed in the subfamily Scilloideae of the family Asparagaceae. However, a taxonomist is perfectly free to continue to argue that Hyacinthaceae should be maintained as a separate family from the other families which were merged into the Asparagaceae. In summary, if a plant has different names or is placed in differently named taxa: * If the confusion is purely nomenclatural, i.e. it concerns what to call a taxon which has the same circumscription, rank and position, the ''ICN'' provides rules to settle the differences, typically by prescribing that the earliest published name must be used, although names can be conserved. * If the confusion is taxonomic, i.e. taxonomists differ in opinion on the circumscription, rank or position of taxa, then only more scientific research can settle the differences, and even then only sometimes.


Accepted names

Various botanical databases such as
Plants of the World Online Plants of the World Online is an online database published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a non-departmental public bodyIn the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied ...
and World Flora Online make determinations as to whether a name is accepted, eg accepted species. If a name is not accepted, it may be because the name is a
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone ...
for a name that is already accepted, and is listed as such. Another term is
ambiguous Ambiguity is a type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic sit ...
to denote a name that is not accepted because its separate existence cannot be reliably determined. For instance, specimens that are damaged, immature or the necessary information or expertise ids not available. This can lead to abundances, multiple published names for the same entity.


See also


General

*
Scientific classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared characteristics. Organisms are grouped into taxon, taxa (singular: ...

Scientific classification
*
Binomial nomenclature In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only ...
*
Nomenclature Codes Nomenclature codes or codes of nomenclature are the various rulebooks that govern biological taxonomic Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classifica ...


Botany

*
Botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specif ...
*
International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants The ''International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants'' (ICN) is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name Science (from the Latin Latin (, ...
**
Correct name (botany) In botany, the correct name according to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the one and only botanical name that is to be used for a particular taxon, when that taxon has a particular Circumscription (taxono ...
**
Author citation (botany) In botanical nomenclature Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the pri ...
**
Hybrid name (botany) In botanical nomenclature Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the pri ...
*
International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants The ''International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants'' (ICNCP), also known as the Cultivated Plant Code, is a guide to the rules and regulations for naming cultigens, plants whose origin or selection is primarily due to intentional huma ...
*
International Plant Names Index The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) describes itself as "a database In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algor ...
: lists names of seed plants and ferns *
International Association for Plant Taxonomy The International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) is an organization established to promote an understanding of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Ener ...
*
Paleobotany Paleobotany, which is also spelled as palaeobotany, is the branch of botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist ...


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Botanical Nomenclature
Nomenclature Nomenclature (, ) is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, a ...
Scientific terminology