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Plant classification and nomenclature.

Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, designed a universal system of plant nomenclature, using a binomial, or two-word, system that classifies plants by their "structural" features. By separating characteristics of a plant and categorizing them into groups, (i.e., classification) similarities and differences can be seen, and the naming process (i.e., nomenclature) begins.

Identification of a plant starts with the genus (genera = plural), or group name. A group with similar characteristics, the species, follows the genus name and is correctly written in italics with the genus capitalized, i.e., Centaurea macrocephala. Understanding that both names are based on Latin (sometimes Greek) words, and have specific meaning, will make using the names a more fun and comfortable practice. Again, Centaurea macrocephala has a large flowered head: Centaurea is Greek = Kentaur for centaur, which means half man half horse, macro meaning "large" and cephalotus meaning "bearing heads." Some plants are named after the person who discovered them or for locations of discovery or nativity, for instance, californicus. Naturally occuring variants of a species--subspecies, varietas, or forma-are given an additional epithet prefixed by "subsp.," "var.," or "f." Unnatural variants, those forced by man through hybridization, are called 'cultivars' (cultivated variety), and are often named for the person who hybridized the plant. Cultivar name is correctly written in non-italicized type but capitalized and enclosed in single quote marks, i.e., 'Krypton: Overall family names of a plant consolidate genera by dominant traits; for example, Euphorbiaceae includes those plants that secrete a milky sap.

Learning the correct Latin name of flowers is essential to the floral designer because doing so provides a communal language that extends from growers to wholesalers, to retailers and consumers. This better understanding benefits everyone.

The Latin or botanical name of each plant is listed throughout the book. The primary focus here is on the genus name because it is the most commonly used name among the floral trade. Species names are listed only when readily known by the author and are on a separate line to clarify to the beginner that different species within a genus can vary widely in characteristics, even though they share a commonly used name. For example, the differences between Euphorbia fulgens and Euphorbia marginata are dramatic, yet both are loosely referred to as Euphorbia in the trade. The primary source for taxonomic identification in this book was Hortus Third, staff of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University. All plants are listed by their current botanical names (except for a few genera, such as Chrysanthemum, where an older name has been preserved). Taxonomic names change for many reasons: When research reveals an older name taking precedence, correction of misidentifications, or due to reclassification. These name changes are labeled synonyms, denoted "syn." throughout the book.

Listed below are some species names encountered in this book along with their descriptive meanings.

aconitifolius: having leaves like the aconite; palmately cleft

aethiopicus: Ethiopian; African; south of Libya and Egypt

alatus: winged; having wings or appendages

albidus, albus: white

amabilis: lovable; amiable; lovely

americanus: American

anemoneflorus: with flower like the Anemone

anemonefolius: with leaves like the Anemone

annuus: annual; living only one year or one plant season

aquaticus, aquatilis: aquatic; living in or under water

aquifolius: holly-leaves; with pointy leaves

argenteus: silvery

armillaris: with bracelet, arm ring, or collar; encircled

aromaticus: aromatic, fragrant

asiaticus: Asian

atropurpureus: dark purple

austriacus: Austrian

balsameus: yielding a fragrant gum or resin

belladonna: beautiful lady

bignonoides: of or like the genus of the trumpet and cross vines

bilobus: having two lobes

bonariensis: of or from Buenos Aires, Argentina

bracteatus: having or bearing bracts

callicarpus: bearing beautiful fruits

campanulatus: campanulate; bell shaped

capsicum: biting to the taste; hot (as peppers)

caudatus: tailed; having a tail-like appendage

coccineus: scarlet

conifer: cone bearing

contortus: twisted

convallis: of the valley

cordatus: heart shaped

cordifolius: having heart-shaped leaves

cristatus: crested; tasseled

deciduous: shedding leaves annually: not evergreen

deliciosus: delicious; of fine flavor; offering great pleasure

divaricatus: spreading at a wide angle; straggling

elegans: elegant

equisetifolius: with leaves like the horsetails, Equisetum

ericoides: Erica-like; heathlike

flavidus: yellow; yellowish

floribundus: free flowering; abounding in flowers; flowering for a long season

floridus: flowering; full of flowers

fragrans: scented; especially sweet scented

frutescens, fruticans: shrubby, shrublike

gladiatus: like a sword

gloriosus: glorious, superb

gracillimus: very slender

grandiflorus: with large flowers; free flowering

graveolens: heavily scented: strong smelling

herbaceous: not wood forming; of the nature of an herb; low growing--dying back to the ground annually

hirsutus: hairy; covered with coarse hairs

hyacinthus: deep purplish in color

hybridus: mixed; mongrel; crossbred

impatiens: impatient; throwing seed when ripe

incurvus: bent inward; inflexed

integrifolius: with entire or uncut leaves

laevis: smooth; free from hairs or roughness

leonurus: like a lion's tail

leucanthus: with white flowers

linearias: narrow; with nearly parallel sides

luteus: yellow

macranthus: with large thorns or spines

maximus: largest

mollis: soft; flexible; mild

nanus: dwarf

nipponicus: of or from Nippon (Japan)

nobilis: noble; well-known; outstanding

novi-belgii: of New York, United States

occidentalis: western; pertaining to the setting sun

odoratus, odorus: fragrant; scented; sweet smelling

orientalis: eastern; of the dawn

paniculatus: having flowers in a cluster, with each flower borne on a separate stalk

papyrifera: used for producing paper; with paperlike bark pendulous: hanging down; drooping

podocarpus: bearing fruits on a stalk; literally "fruit-foot"

radicans: with structures that have rooting abilities

rotundifolious: round leaved

rubens, ruber: red; ruddy

salinus: salty; growing in salty places

saxicolus: growing among rocks

scoparius: from the Latin word for "floor-sweeper," resembling a broom

speciosissimus: very showy

sphaerocephalus: round headed

splendens: splendid

stellaris, stellatus: stellate; starry

stolonifera: producing stolons or runners that take root

succulentus: succulent, fleshy, juicy

tenax: tenacious, strong

trilobus: three lobed

unifolious: one leaved

variegatus: variegated

viridis: green

vulgaris, vulgatus: vulgar; common

zebrinus: zebra striped

Pat Diehl Scace, AIFD, AAF
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Author:Scace, Pat Diehl
Publication:The Floral Artist's Guide, A Reference to Cut Flowers and Foliage
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:960
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