Plant Binomial System

Plant Binomial System


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Our planet has an unknown number of different plants living on it, which means that unless there is a way of providing each different plant with a unique name the potential for confusion and mistakes is huge.

The'common name' of a plant may seem the most obvious name to apply to a plant however the common name can refer to several different plants depending on your location. As an example in the UK the woodbine is the common name for honeysuckle, whilst in the United States this common name refers to clematis, a completely different plant. This type of confusion does not only occur from one country to another but can occur between different regions of the same country.

The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave classification of animals, minerals and plants consistency and precision when he developed his binomial nomenclature system in 1753. The use of Latinised names in the binomial system was initially a result of Latin being a widely used written language amongst the educated people of the time. In modern times Latin is no longer a language in common use which has aided the worldwide use of the system as well as eradicating misinterpretation. The system that Carl Linnaeus began has undergone changes since its initial development as our understanding of how to differentiate one plant from another has grown. We now have the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, which provides us with a universally acceptable system.


Genus and Species

The binomial system is so called because it consists of two words: the genus and species. When used together they create a unique name for the plant. The genus is the grouping of plants according to common characteristics and each genus can contain several species. The species refers to individual plants within the same genus that are capable of interbreeding.

The binomial name for the potato is Solanum tuberos…

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