The naming of plants happens in various ways – common names of plants evolve from country folk’s fanciful descriptions of their perceived uses, or appearance.
Latin names, the correct botanical naming of plants, are based on a particular plants kinship with other similar or not so similar plants. Plant identification is based on the ways these plants relate to each other, mainly due to characteristics of blooms and leaf form and arrangement.
Some of the differences are minute and microscopic.
This leads to re-grouping plants at times into either a new genus or combining them with other genera to form a new one. The two groups of scientists and botanists responsible for this are known as ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’ for their preferred systems.
Using a botanical key to narrow down the possibilities will give you an idea of which genus and species your plant belongs to.
Each genus is grouped with others into a family, and also splits into different species. Binomial nomenclature, a long way of saying two names, defines to which genus and species each plant belongs.
Latin is used for the naming of plants, as it’s the same around the globe – even though common names may differ in other locations, the Latin botanical name will never alter.
Naming of plants using the correct botanical names can be descriptive, using the appearance of the plant such as fuzzy, upright or coloured; or commemorative, using the habitat, or sometimes the name of the person who first made the discovery on a plant exploration expedition.
acerifolia = maple like
Colours of Foliage or Flowers:
Albus = white
adpressus = pressing against, hugging
armutus = armed
The suffix –ensis which means ‘of a place’ is added to place names to specify the habitat of origin.
You can see the root words of many words in the English language in the Latin botanical names of plants, so contrary to the belief of many scholars, Latin is not really a dead language at all, simply adapted to our use for the naming of plants.