Chicago gardeners may wonder: What’s important about a plant name? Read to find out.
Plants have biological and common names, similar to legal names and nicknames. Biological names are important because they’re given to one plant only and are known internationally. They may refer to the botanist who first collected the plant or to a characteristic of the plant. These names are changed if there’s new information about the plant, if an older name takes priority or if the plant group is reclassified. After a name change, the former name becomes an alternative name.
Species of plants are groups that are able to reproduce together to produce offspring. They’re given a two part Latin name. The first indicates their genus, and the second indicates their specific species name. Subspecies are natural variations of a species, identified with the abbreviation “subsp.”
Variety and form are subdivisions of a species, containing minor differences in botanical structure. The abbreviations “var.” and “f.” indicate these subdivisions.
A genus is a group of plants possessing a large number of shared characteristics, indicated with italics and a capital letter. A family is a group of one or more genera (plural of genus) retaining an underlying characteristic and ending in “–aceae”.
Hybrids are offspring of genetically different parents produced naturally or artificially. They show new characteristics and often vigorous growth. Cultivars are chosen or artificially grown distinct variants of species, subspecies, varieties, forms or hybrids, identified with single quotes. If their parentage is indistinct or complex, their common name is listed after the generic name and placed in quotes.
Plant names provide important information to Chicago gardeners.
Chicago Flower and Garden Show, March 9-17, Navy Pier! Order tickets online and get $2 off the ticket price.
Use this link to become an Examiner, http://exm.nr/Rv808C .