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How To Write Scientific Names

Although not a true type of plant, Gymnema would be considered a generic name since it has common generic similarities with many other plants. Similarly, Gymnoctem and Scirpus are examples of generics since they possess some basic similarities to tress and gymnum, although Gymnema lacks all the physical characteristics that distinguish gymnum. The scientific and taxonomic terminology employed in botany, zoology, and horticulture differ significantly from the nomenclature employed in chemistry, physics, and biology. Because these fields have broad subject areas, a standard nomenclature needs to be in place to better describe specific specimens and their characteristics.

Nomenclature of plants, as well as animals, hinges upon the conventions of Latin, Greek, and English language nomenclature. In English, nouns that have an adjectival clause are capitalized. If they are written as a whole, even though the adjective is written first, the noun is not capitalized. Latin nouns that have adjectival clauses are not capitalized unless the adjective is written first.

As well, Latin nouns do not have articles (anoms) in -antis, -iris, or -entis. On the other hand, Latin and Greek nomenclature relies upon conventions that are not as easily forgotten as the first part of a parenthesis. For example, compare the following names: Armadillum, basilonimus, andilurus. Basilonimus, or ‘armed,’ is a name that describes a plant only, and not an animal.

Even within a single field, different taxonomic nomenclatures are used for identifying one taxonomic class compared to another, or for describing similarities among species of the same taxonomic class.

Magnolia is a common name that has nothing to do with the technical description of the leaves or bark of the magnolia tree. In fact, it is not a latin word, but rather a Greek word meaning “mountain tree”. In order to avoid confusion with other scientists and researchers, write magnolia as magnolia latiflora instead of magnolia umbilica. Latiflora is not a latin word, so it will also leave you susceptible to a peer review ban if you choose to use praesagma instead of latiflora. The meeting would be described as a meeting on a specific topic. It would not be a meeting on “garden plants” or “tree planting”.

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