Many people get confused after hearing different names for the same plant, but it is a common problem due to differences in languages.
Binomial nomenclature has solved the issue of different names by providing universal labels to the common plants.
Why is Binomial Nomenclature Used to Name Plants? Binomial nomenclature is used to name plants because it is a universally accepted system of naming them with words derived from Latin and Greek. These titles are meaningful and help identify plants based on their characteristics. Moreover, you can know about the evolutionary history of a plant through its scientific label. Furthermore, these botanical labels remain the same for a lifetime in contrast to common names that keep changing.
This system is used to name plants, and many other organisms like animals and microbes are also labeled to improve clarity around the world.
You probably have to face problems negotiating with non-native people, so use these scientific titles and explain what you want to say.
What is Binomial Nomenclature?
Binomial nomenclature is the scientific way of naming plants to avoid confusion among people with multiple common names.
This biological system was developed in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist who aimed to introduce some universal tags instead of common ones.
The term binomial means two, and the nomenclature indicates the names of plants. It was later on designed for animals and microorganisms too.
Furthermore, two words mean the two parts of a scientific title which indicate the genus and species of a particular organism or plant.
Why is binomial nomenclature essential to name plants?
There are many prominent advantages of providing botanical names by following all the rules of binomial nomenclature.
Overcome the language barrier
Multiple languages are spoken all around the world in different communities. All of them use different words to call the same thing, creating a language barrier.
A common potato has different names in every language like; it is known as patata, Kartoffel, and potatis in Italy, Germany, and Sweden.
Multiple names of the same plant create difficulty in understanding when a non-native has to speak with a US native.
So, binomial nomenclature has been introduced to help overcome the language barrier as these scientific labels are universally accepted.
Furthermore, these botanical tags are not only simple but meaningful also and avoid confusion between multiple titles of the same thing.
Identification of plant characteristics
You can know about the characteristics of plants with the scientific titles as red maple is Acer rubrum and rubrum means a red color.
While Acer means sharp, that helps identify red maple as a distinguishing plant with sharp leaves and red color.
In addition, the sunflower is named Helianthus annuus; Helianthus is derived from two Greek words; Helios and Anthos, which mean sun and flower.
While annuus is a Latin word that means yearly and shows its characteristic as most of the sunflower varieties are annual, not perennial.
Provide proper care
It is better to know about the type of plant before growing them on the lawn or providing any treatment.
There is a possibility of providing improper treatments or nutrients without knowing about the characteristics and requirements of the particular species.
You can provide an accurate amount of nutrients and water when you know its requirement for healthy growth; otherwise, it cannot survive longer.
Accurate identification of evolutionary history
The universal scientific titles help identify the family and order of the specific plants.
It is easy to know about the evolutionary history of a plant through its scientific label like Solanum lycopersicum indicates that it belongs to the Solanaceae family and kingdom Plantae.
In the same way, the maize belongs to the kingdom Plantae, Poaceae family, and Zea mays species. The taxonomy helps identify the characteristics and provides a detailed description.
So, you can easily understand the background of the particular species and their taxonomic classifications.
The common names of plants are not stable and keep changing over time. Accordingly, you cannot use it for a long time as it has no universal acceptance.
The name of one plant can be used for another in a different region of the world, which creates complexity and instability in the title.
However, the scientific titles consisting of genus and species names remain the same for a lifetime once they are assigned.
In fact, the botanical tags do not change even if these are added into a different species at some point, and they retain their former original name.
How do you understand the binomial nomenclature of plants?
These scientific names originated from a Greek or Latin language that can be difficult to understand. These comprise two parts; genus and species.
The genus comes on the sixth number in a biological classification ranking that starts from the kingdom and narrows down to phylum, class, order, family, and genus.
The genus is still a broad classification that comprises several species. For example, Solanum is a genus that contains species including Solanum tuberosum, Solanum lycopersicum, Solanum melongena, etc.
The morphologically similar plants that share the same chemical and molecular data come under the same genus but are considered different species.
Moreover, the genus describes a plant like Equisetum, a combination of the Latin words Equus and Saeta that mean horse and bristle. It can also be named after a person who has introduced it.
The second one is species name to classify these from the same ancestors’ population. In addition, it explains the characteristic of a particular species.
The scientific name for red maple is Acer rubrum, and the word Acer denotes a plant belonging to shrubs and trees, while Rubrum means red, indicating the color.
This way, you can understand the classification of a plant named according to this system and identify it without confusion.
What are the botanical names of some common plants?
You can see many crops and flowering plants in your surroundings but are unaware of their scientific titles that are named according to binomial nomenclature.
Some fruits like apples are named Malus Domestica, while bananas are Musa acuminate.
Furthermore, the tomato and potato are known as Solanum lycopersicum and Solanum tuberosum, which belong to the same genus. Brinjal also belongs to the Solanum genus and is known as Solanum melongena.
The crops like maize and cotton have scientific titles of Zea mays and Gossypium herbaceum. Additionally, Money plants and Garlic are known as Epipremnum aureum and Allium sativum.
Epipremnum is the flowering plant genus that belongs to the Araceae family, while Allium depicts a genus of Garlic that contains bulbous herbs.
Are there any rules of binomial nomenclature?
There are some specific ways to write a scientific title for plants according to the rules of binomial nomenclature.
You have to write the words in Italic when typing to make them distinguished from others and indicate their origin.
Moreover, the first name, which is the genus of a particular plant, should start with a capital letter. At the same time, the second one is species that should be in small letters.
For example, Solanum tuberosum, which specifies a potato, is written in Italic, and the first letter of the genus is in uppercase.
In addition, you can underline both words like Solanum tuberosum when writing it in a notebook or if you do not want to make it italicized.
Furthermore, the sequence of the words remains the same, like you have to write a genus before mentioning its species.
In addition, you have to write a scientific title within parentheses when you are mentioning a common name like sunflower (Helianthus annuus).
You cannot write a scientific label as per your choice, and you have to write a full name.
However, there is an exception in the rules about the writing style of the title, which has been repeatedly used in the same content.
You can only write the first letter in the capital, and then a species is mentioned like S. lycopersicum.
All the guidelines for writing scientific titles are specified by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).
According to those guidelines, you can write sp. with a plant name whose species is not identified is still like a Grevillea sp.
What do people say about this?
I surveyed 427 people to know what they think about binomial nomenclature and whether it is good to label plants scientifically or add more complexity.
Out of 427 people, 268 people (63%) said it is good to add a botanical title for plants using binomial nomenclature as universal names to add more clarity and help identify them.
However, 112 people (26%) said it is not easy to remember these Latin words as they sound difficult. The common names are easier to be spoken when you are living with a specific group of people.
While the remaining 47 people (11%) said it is an accurate and efficient method of naming plants, it isn’t easy to understand by common people who do not know about science.
It ensures the stability of names that are known globally, as you can use them internationally while speaking to a non-native person.
“I faced problems communicating to non-natives as they do not understand my language, then I used scientific titles that helped me overcome this barrier.”
It is challenging to pronounce the scientific names and remember them for a lifetime as they originated from the Latin language that is not easy to understand.
“I usually mispronounce the scientific titles because it is not my native language.”
The botanical tags help identify their characteristics and their evolutionary history.
“The scientific name of red maple is Acer rubrum, and the Rubrum means red, so it is easy for me to remember a plant type by its species.”