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New Zealand Plants and their Story

Scientific Names of Plants

Scientific Names of Plants.

The scientific names are in Latin. The use of Latin among learned men dates, of course, from the time of the Romans; but its application to plants, as we now know them, began in the sixteenth century, when modern botany was born. Latin was then the universal written language of the learned, and the early botanical works were all written in that tongue. This usage of Latin has proved very convenient in practice, for it would lead to endless confusion did the plants bear the popular names of their respective countries alone. As it is, a definite scientific name is applied to one particular species, and to that only, and such names are recognised by scientists, no matter what their nationality.

Each scientific name consists of two words, the first denoting what the genus is, and the second the species to which the plant belongs.