A Common Language panel

Plant nomenclature is the naming of plants using the binomial (meaning “two names”) system. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus introduced this method in 1753. Binomial nomenclature uses Latin to communicate scientific information on a global scale.

Genus (plural: genera): A taxonomic rank used to descibe a grouping of closely related species.

Specific epithet: A name used to differentiate individuals within a genus.

Genus + specific epithet =  Species* (the botanical or scientific name of the plant)

*Species: A term identifing a group of organisms in which two individuals are capable of producing fertile offspring.

Cultivar: A name given to a plant selection that varies enough from its parents to warrant cultivation based on its own merits.

Common Name: Some plants are given nicknames a.k.a common names. Many plants have more than one nickname depending on the region in which they grow.

Family: A taxonomic rank, one level above genus, used to group  plants that share observable characteristics, chemistry, and genetic makeup.

Native Range of Species: The region to which the plant species is considered indigenous.

How to Read A Smithsonian Rose Label

Rose labels in the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose garden contain important information about each plant. Here is a key to understanding labels in the garden.

Cultivar: This plant name can vary depending on the country and market. Cross check with ICRAR code.

Rose Class: Roses are members of the plant genus Rosa. Within that genus, they are grouped into classifications based on lineage as well as characteristics displayed by each variety.

Introduction Year: The year the rose was introduced to the commercial market.

International Cultivar Registration Authority for Roses (ICRAR) code: A unique identifier assigned to each rose. The first part, usually in CAPS, denotes a particular rose breeder.