Botanical names

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JTh

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Botanical names
« on: February 13, 2014, 11:18:03 AM »
Caroline Harbouri, the editor of the MGS journal - The Mediterranean Garden, has written a very useful note on botanical names, which we have been allowed to post here. I am also uploading it as a separate file for anyone who wants to keep it handy or print it out.

BOTANICAL NAMES

1.   Botanical names should be italicised. The first name, that of the genus, should have a capital letter; the second name, the species, should not have a capital (e.g. Lavandula angustifolia). It may be helpful to think of the genus name as the “surname” and the species name as the “Christian name”.

2.   If several plants of the same genus are mentioned one after another, after the first mention the genus name can be abbreviated to a single italicised capital letter and full stop followed by a space before the species name (e.g. Lavandula angustifolia, L. stoechas and L. dentata).

3.   When the plant is classified as a subspecies it is written thus: Lavandula stoechas ssp. pedunculata OR Lavandula stoechas subsp. pedunculata. The abbreviations ‘ssp.’ and ‘subsp.’ are NOT italicised.

4.   ‘spp.’ (not italicised) is the abbreviation for ‘species’ (in the plural): not to be confused with ‘ssp.’ for subspecies as above.

5.   When the plant is a hybrid it is written thus: Lavandula x intermedia. The ‘x’ is not italicised. A hybrid is, roughly speaking, a cross between two different species of (usually) the same genus, made either deliberately by human plant breeders (imagine breeding dogs and deciding that you want to cross a labrador with a setter) or, more rarely, by nature (if two different species of the same genus grow near one another, bees or other pollinating insects may cross-fertilise them).

6.   When the plant is a named cultivar (i.e. not a naturally occurring species but a named form bred by human horticulturalists – imagine breeding pedigree dogs for several generations and selecting the parents each time for the longest tail or the thickest coat), it is written thus: Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Giant’. The genus and species of the cultivar are written as normal, in italics with a capital letter for the genus; the cultivar name is not italicised, has a capital letter – or capital letters if it’s more than one word – and is enclosed in SINGLE inverted commas (not double inverted commas).

7.   When the plant is a variety it is written thus: Cupressus sempervirens var. atlantica. The ‘var.’ is not italicised but the varietal name is, like the species name. Things get a bit complicated here: technically a variety is “the category of taxa intermediate between subspecies and forma”, i.e. slightly different from the species type (the “forma”) but less different than a subspecies. All that matters is to remember that a variety, naturally occurring, is NOT the same thing as a cultivar and is written in the same format as a subspecies.

8.   When the species name of a plant is double (but it is not a subspecies or variety), then the two names are hyphenated: e.g. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Opuntia ficus-indica, Oxalis pes-caprae etc.

9.   Botanical names CANNOT EVER be used in the plural. It is not possible to write e.g. “two Lavandula angustifolias”. Instead one can write either “two specimens of Lavandula angustifolia” or “two lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia)”. One can, however, make an ordinary common noun of the genus name and write it in the plural (“two lavandulas”, “two teucriums” etc) but in this case it should NOT have a capital and should NOT be italicised.

10.   The names of plant families (Asteraceae, Brassicaceae etc) have a capital letter and are not usually italicised.

11.   WATCH OUT: unless the spell-check on your computer is turned off, it will make automatic erroneous corrections to correctly typed plant names. Where a plant’s species name is ruber, for example, the computer will convert this to rubber, involucrata and maritima become involucrate and maritime, etc. Make sure that this isn’t happening and check carefully.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 05:33:32 PM by Alisdair »
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

Umbrian

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Re: Botanical names
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 07:43:17 AM »
Many thanks again Jorun, this time for  reproducing Caroline' notes re Botanical names on the Forum. As a self taught gardener/botanist I have never been sure how to write the names properly and live in fear of showing my ignorance when writing posts and articles for the MGS Journal.  :) Now I shall have no excuses and can refer to these notes and hope, in time, it will become second nature to write the names correctly!
Many thanks to Caroline also of course for such clear information and explanations.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

Alice

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Re: Botanical names
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 10:45:00 AM »
No excuses for sloppiness any more!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 11:03:56 AM by Alice »
Amateur gardener who has gardened in north London and now gardens part of the year on the Cycladic island of Paros. Conditions: coastal, windy, annual rainfall 350mm, temp 0-35 degrees C.

Umbrian

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Re: Botanical names
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 08:03:26 AM »
In fear of being regarded as a nuisance  and lower in status than a moron I now have to ask how I change the font when writing posts in order to present the botanical names correctly. I started one yesterday and could not work it out and dare not post it after my promise to try to be correct from now on!
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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How to insert italics for botanical names
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 10:25:19 AM »
Carole, When you are writing a post, above the message window and below the subject window are three lines of icons. The top two lines are all commands, that you can insert into a message. If you hold your cursor over each icon, you'll get a brief description of what that icon does.
The second icon from the left, top row, an italic I, is for italic type. If you click on it, you'll see that it puts into your post two sets of square brackets, one with an i and the second with /i. When you write text between these two sets, it comes out in italics.
I find the simplest way of using this icon (and the others for bold type etc) is to write the complete text of a message first, then go back to any bits that are to go into italics, and mark the relevant words by doing whatever the computer has to do to mark them (on mine, it's by holding my left finger down on the track pad, then sweeping my right finger across the pad so that the cursor paints a blue wash over them), then click on the I icon.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Joanna Savage

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Re: Botanical names
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2014, 07:05:17 AM »
Umbrian, you have had a big week, not only conquering photogene, but getting scientific names sorted as well. I heard you speak at an MGS annual meeting several years ago. You described how you had built garden walls. An Umbrian terrier i would say.

Umbrian

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Re: Botanical names
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2014, 08:44:37 AM »
I wouldn't exactly say I had "conquered " either potogene or botanical names yet - still having to refer to my notes constantly at every turn but nevertheless it is satisfying to have succeeded once with potogene and to at least know how I should write botanical names. The wet weather has been useful in some ways!
What a shame I did not get to know you in Athens all those years ago but The Forum has brought us together and I hope one day we shall meet, this terrier is still going strong even if more slowly :)
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.