Help With Plant NamesPlant names can be confusing. We wanted to explain the three main sources we use to validate a current botanical plant name and give you some additional information on common names and trade names as well. Plants Map is comprised of plants that are added by our community. We launched the Plant Finder search tool in 2018 to make it easier to find and filter plants with the best content. We also launched Core Plants in 2018 to make it easier to begin your plant library. Our core plant list is comprised of the most frequently added plants by our community. We are constantly in progress of adding more plants as they meet the criteria to be created. As a community built plant database, the botanical name on all plant forms may be reviewed for proper spelling, identification accuracy, and current nomenclature of the scientific name. As we build the core plant list, we encounter plants that have had their scientific names updated by taxonomy and botany experts. We base our decision on the core plant list botanical name when we see that the International Plant Names Index (IPNI), Plants of the World Online (KEW), and Wikipedia / Wikispecies have all concurred on the name. Often times this change happens before other resources, databases, and websites. When we find inaccuracy in the community plant profiles we attempt to contact the profile to make an update. After a period of time the botanical name may be updated by our system to keep the plant finder results up-to-date with latest nomenclature.

Below is a list of core plant names by date that have been updated in our system.

This list will not be a comprehensive list of all name changes but is intended to be a place for our community to reference if they see changes made to our database. Dates reflect Plants Map Core Plants updates.

Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta changed to Clinopodium nepeta subsp. nepeta 8/28/20

Celosia spicata changed to Deeringia spicata 8/28/20

Perovskia atriplicifolia changed to Salvia yangii 8/18/20

Abelia x grandiflora changed to Linnaea × grandiflora 10/10/18 Abelia former species

From our help article: What are the available fields on a plant

Common Name can include several recognized non-scientific names people have come to know to recognize a plant, genus or species. Examples would be Dogwood, Rose, Black-Eyed Susan, Marigold, Daisy, Sunflower, Mint, Tomato, etc.

Botanical Name can be elements of the scientific name plus the name of a cultivar, variety or hybrid.  For example you can enter  Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’ or just Cornus florida or Cornus.

Trade Name may be the same or different than a registered cultivar name. A trade name is used for marketing purposes and it how a brand wants a plant to be known to the consumer. An example would be the trade name The Knock Out® Rose is the registered shrub rose cultivar known as Rosa ‘Radrazz’.  Trade names can be easily recognized as they do not use quotes like cultivar names and normally will have a trademark (™) or registered (®) symbol. Plants with a trade name will have a true registered cultivar, variety or hybrid name but it may be difficult to find. More often times now they are not the same name. A registered cultivar may have different trade names in different countries for marketing purposes making this a bit more confusing.

Family, Genus, Species information should be based on adopted scientific taxonomy and classification of that plant. There are many sources online to find this information. We recommend using (KEW) as your primary source to verify a family, genus or species.  Other sources include Wikipedia, the International Plant Names Index, and USDA Plants. Plants Map reserves the right to audit and revise information that has been entered into these fields to maintain the integrity of the plant finder results.

Hybrid, cultivar or variety are additional identifying names given to a plant often times in quotes such as Cornus (genus) florida (species) ‘Cherokee Princess’ for example. What’s the difference? A hybrid is a specific parentage cross and the name usually indicates this with a multiplication sign such as Rhododendron x kaempferi ‘Silver Sword.’ For an explanation of cultivar or variety see Iowa State University – Cultivar vs Variety. For additional explanation of scientific plant names this is an excellent resource, but be prepared to ready slowly: Oregon State University – Scientific Plant Names.

For a better understanding of scientific plant names and how they are derived, please see these resources:

Plants Names: a basic introduction (Australia’s Virtual Herbarium)

Hints for understanding scientific plant names (USDA NRCS)

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