Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève
A label in a botanical garden.
What does it do ? How do you read it ?
The label serves to identify a plant species in the collection.
It is composed of a Latin scientific name formed of three distinct parts.
The binomial Latin name (1,2) defines a botanical species thanks to :
a. The name of the genus (1), eg. Rosa sp – for roses.
b. The specific name (2) which applies to one species (a genus can have several species). This name often expresses an origin, eg. Rosa gallica = Rose of France, the nature of an environment, eg. Trifolium pratense = Red Clover (of the meadow). Gladiolus palustris = Marsh Gladiolus, a colour, eg. Silene alba = White Campion, a morphological or physiological characteristic, eg. Solidago graminifolia = Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Bellis perennis = Daisy (a perennial plant), a reference to a Botanist, eg. Epilobium dodonaei = Epilobe (named after Dodoens), a use, eg. Linum catharcticum = a linseed purgative, Linum usitatissimum = a useful linseed, and Rosmarinus officinalis = Rosemary (used as a herb).
c. The name of the author (3) of the first description of the species in question (that gave the Latin diagnosis). Latin is the universal language of Botanists used to avoid confusion during the determination of a species.
There is often other information included on the label, such as, the common name (4) (in French), eg. Papaver rhoeas = pavot, coquelicot (the poppy), the botanical family (5) , eg. Rosa gallica = belongs to the family Roseaceae, and the geographic origin (6), eg. Solanum tuberosum = the potato, originating from Latin America.