• 107328  Infos

Descriptive botanical names

    Descriptive botanical names: Art 16 of the ICBN rules that names above the rank of family may be either descriptive or based on the name of an included genus. The latter leads to names such as Magnoliophyta and Magnoliopsida.
    Descriptive plant names are decreasing in importance but many are still in use, such as Plantae, Fungi, Embryophyta, Tracheophyta, Spermatophyta, Gymnospermae, Coniferae, Angiospermae, Monocotyledones, Dicotyledones.
    Such descriptive names have a very long history, easily preceding Linnaeus. As the scientific language in those days was Latin such names were in good Latin, and take the form of nouns in the plural.
    This can be seen most clear in the descriptive names of families allowed in Art 18 of the ICBN:
    Compositae = (Asteraceae = Aster-like)
    Cruciferae = cross-beares (Brassicaceae = Brassica-like)
    Gramineae = grasses (Poaceae = Poa-like)
    Guttiferae = latex-carriers (Clusiaceae = Clusia-like)
    Labiatae = : (Lamiaceae = Lamium-like)
    Leguminosae = legumes (Fabaceae = Faba-like)
    Palmae = palms (Areceae = Areca-like)
    Papilionaceae = butterfly flowers (Fabaceae = Faba-like)
    Umbelliferae = parasol-carriers (Apiaceae = Apium-like)
    Where the descriptive names are nouns in the plural and the names based on a genus are adjectives in the plural (but treated as nouns).