What You Need to Know About Plant Names

Whenever you are dealing with plants, it is useful to know the rules behind their names so that you do not get stuck trying to figure out Latin words.

Typically, when dealing with plants and flowers, you will see two names. One is botanical and one is common.

The botanical name is the scientific name of the flower or plant. It has two parts, the name of the species and the name of the genus. The species name is similar to the first name of a person. The genus name is similar to the last name. For example, in the botanical name Hosta undulata, Hosta describes the group of plants known as hostas and undulata refers to the specific type of hostas.

Sometimes the botanical name consists of three names, the genus name, the species name, and the variety name. A variety is a member of the same group that is distinct enough to get its own name.

The common name is what people are most likely to call a plant. These names are indicated on the packets of seeds or on plant trays. They are similar to nicknames that people use without getting into too much detail. For example, most gardeners would call Hosta undulata simply hosta.

If you want to be absolutely sure that you are purchasing the right plant, look for the scientific name of the plant in its description. Just glancing at a common name may not be enough, because some common names are very generic. An example of such common name is “daisy”. This name can describe so many plants that just knowing the common name isn’t helpful at all. It can refer to an African daisy, painted daisy, Shasta daisy and many other daisies. This is why you want to know scientific names of the plants in addition to knowing their common names.