What is it ?


The word nomenclature is derived from the Latin nomen (‘name‘), and calare (‘to call’).  It is a system of names or terms, or the rules for forming these terms in a particular field of arts or sciences.

In Botany – it is they way we identify a particular plant species or variety. It is also related to, but distinct from taxonomy – which is concerned with grouping and classifying plants.

We at Plant Specialists know our names !

For over 200 years we have used the “binomial” classification model of created by Linnaeus (1707-1778).  It is the language of plant taxonomy that is employed around the world. It uses one Latin (or Classic Greek) name to indicate the genus, and another to indicate the specific epithet. Together, the genus and epithet comprise the “species.”

… a rose is NOT like any other rose unless it is the specific one you are looking for !

Just ask one of our landscape designers – they know !



Rosa rugosa – “the rugged rose”

– from Japan, Korea and Siberia where it grows in sandy beach dunes.


The natural habit of Rosa rugosa – perfect for a sunny rooftop with lots of wind ! 


Why the fuss?  


If you ever wanted our Garden care Team to replace a few boxwood plants in a hedge that did not make it through the winter one would need to know which species to purchase.  Otherwise your hedge might look wonky ! – Especially considering there are over 90 distinct species and over 365 cultivars of boxwood !!! ( can you believe that ! )


A field of boxwood – Buxus genus – ALL one cultivar !


The current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is known as the Vienna Code.  It was adopted by the Seventeenth International Botanical Congress in Vienna, Austria, in July 2005.  Check them out !

Many times the name describes the plant in a particular way – a means of enhancing a known characteristic. Here is an example of what many of these names can mean.


Nepenthes alata – note the wing (ala) over the cup – also known as common pitcher plant.


More information ?


For a full List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names.

   Google : List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names.

It could even become a fun game resource for children –

to name imaginary plants from this list!  Try it !

Dracoruberderme didactylodente 

Red skinned dragon with two finger teeth ! HA HA HA !




Writing this reminded me of Lepanthes woodburyana – an endemic orchid with a tiny flower discovered and named by my beloved professor (and author) Dr. Roy Woodbury.


Lepanthes wooduryana – endemic orchid of the rainforests of Puerto Rico

For more names that you can shake a stick at – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

Our Plant Garden Care Team can source Genus and species and plant them for you in the spring!

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !







Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission from @SHUTTERSTOCK