Scots Pine Mame

Binomial nomenclature is the formal naming system for living things that all scientists use from plants to animals, fungi and bacteria. The scientific name of living things uses latin and therefore ensures that plants or trees for example are easily identifiable worldwide with the use of one common language.

There is a hierarchy for this classification that starts at the Kingdom level, followed by Phylum, Class etc down to Family then onto Genus and then Species.

It goes further to describe cultivars and varieties as well in the plant kingdom.

Binomial Nomenclature Rules

Because scientific names are unique species identifiers, they ensure that there is never any confusion as to which organism a scientist may be referring.

Additionally, there are some important rules that must be followed to keep all binomial names standardized:

  • The entire two-part name must be written in italics (or underlined when handwritten)
  • The genus name is always written first
  • The genus name must be capitalized
  • The species is never capitalized
  • If it is a variety it has var. after the species followed by the variety but var. is not in bold but the variety is and all are in italics e.g Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna
  • If is a cultivar of a species then the cultivar is in bold and enclosed in single quotation marks and not in italics e.g. Camellia japonica ‘Jupiter’

Example for a Dawn Redwood

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Genus with capital M followed by the species with lowercase g and all in bold italics
(Dawn Redwood)

Common name below but not in italics