Plant Names

What kind of plant is it?

All plants have botanical names and common names. There are many good reasons to learn (and use) botanical names instead of common names. 1) they insure you get the right information if you're searching for help 2) they make it easier to talk about your plants with other enthusiasts and 3) you'll get the plant you want when shopping.

Identifying plants by their botanical name is one of the the hardest things to learn in the beginning. And then, there's always the challenge of pronouncing them correctly without getting laughed at. And forget about spelling them.

Sooner or later you're going to have to confront those tongue twisting names.

How can we possibly discuss these wonderful plants without knowing their names? 

The Problem

Nature has blessed us with thousand and thousands of unique plants! And more are being discovered every year! Classifying all these plants requires a complex naming structure. 

To make things even more interesting, plant names are in Latin, the International Language of identification. 

Those two things right there are enough to stop anyone.

How do you make sense of all those Latin names and abbreviations?  Don't panic, this isn't as hard as it looks. 


The Good News

First, out of the thousands and thousands of plants in nature, there are only a select few that can be described as interior plants and will survive indoors. That makes learning the names much easier.

Another big help is how plant names are organized.

There are basically 3 levels of plant identification. First comes "family". Families are divided into groups called genuses (or genera), and genera are broken down into species. 

You may have heard of family names, but they are seldom used in identifying plants. For example, most indoor plants are in the       family. But        isn't part of the name we use for identification.

Genus and species is the foundation of botanical naming. 

Genus (or genera) is the first word and is usually a noun that names the plant. Species is the second word that's an adjective that describes something about the plant.

Simple as that! Genus and species. The basic structure of all plant names. 

But wait! There's more.

When two plants have been crossed to create a hybrid, the hybrid name is noted with a "x" between the genus and species. For example, 

The groups, or genera, of plants most common indoors are:

1. Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

2. Aralia

3. Dracaena (Dragon Plant)

4. Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)

5. Epipremnum (Pothos or Devils Ivy)

6. Ficus (Weeping Fig)

7. Chamadorea (Palms)

8. Philodendron

9. Sansaveria (Mother-in-Law Tongue)

Each genera has characteristics that make them easy to identify. This is the plant world so be prepared for "exceptions to the rule" however.

Within each group (genera) there are numerous species.