Unit 1 - Lesson 3 - Part 2 - Page 1

Botanical Names

In Part 1 of this lesson, we explored terminology pertaining to health and health care. In Part 2 we will introduce the terminology associated with the classification of plants. Such classification is called taxonomy or systematics.

Plants are classified according to their structure, function, development and evolutionary history. The system of universal cataloguing now in use was developed in the 18th Century by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus.)

The highest classification according to the Linaean system is the kingdom. Living organisms are classified into two kingdoms; the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom. The hierarchy of the plant kingdom is further divided as follows:

Division > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species

These categories are sometimes divided further (e.g., subdivision, superclass, subclass, subspecies, etc.) As an example, the taxonomic classification of a rose is presented below:

         Kingdom:  Plant
        Division:  Tracheophyta
     Subdivision:  Pteropsida
      Superclass:  Spermatophyta
           Class:  Angiospermae
        Subclass:  Dicotyledonae
           Order:  Rosales
          Family:  Rosaceae
           Genus:  Rosa
         Species:  Rosa multiflora
Note that the names of classes usually terminate with -ae, orders usually terminate with -ales, and families terminate with -aceae.

According to internationally accepted rules, a species is always identified by two technical names. With plants, this is known as the botanical name or the species name. Botanical names are in Latin and are used uniformly all over the world. For example, a species of hedge roses is called Rosa multiflora. Such species names should always be either underlined or printed in italics and the first word, which always identifies the genus to which the species belongs, should be capitalized.

Why are botanical names important to herbalists?

They makes us look smarter and more scientific.
They help keep lay people in a state of confusion.
The common names vary considerably but the botanical names do not.