1. What is nomenclature?
Nomenclature is the formal naming of taxa according to some standardized system.
2. What is the name (and abbreviation) of the work that provides the rules and recommendations for plant nomenclature?
3. What groups of organisms are covered by this reference? What organisms are not?
The ICBN covers land plants, “algae,” and fungi as well as extinct organisms including Cyanobacteria, chytrids,
oomycetes and slime molds, photosynthetic protists, and taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups. A
supplementary code is utilized for cultivated plants, the “International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants.”
4. What are the two basic activities governed by nomenclature (and the ICBN)?
The ICBN is primarily used for naming new taxa and determining the correct name for previously named taxa, which
may have been divided, united, transferred, or changed in rank.
5. What are legitimate and illegitimate names?
Legitimate names are those that are in accordance with the rules of the ICBN. Any name that violates one or more
rules of the ICBN is known as an illegitimate name.
6. How are changes to the ICBN made?
Changes to the ICBN are voted upon during meetings of the International Botanical Congress, which assembles about
every 6 years.
7. Name the six principles of botanical nomenclature. Which of these is considered the fundamental principle?
a. Botanical nomenclature is independent of zoological and bacteriological nomenclature.
b. The application of names of taxonomic groups is determined by means of nomenclatural types.
c. The nomenclature of a taxonomic group is based upon priority of publication.
d. Each taxonomic group with a particular circumscription, position, and rank can bear only one correct name, the
earliest that is in accordance with the Rules, except in specified cases.
e. Scientific names of taxonomic groups are treated as Latin regardless of their derivation.
f. The Rules of nomenclature are retroactive unless expressly limited.
8. What is the difference between the rules and the recommendations of the ICBN?
Rules are mandatory and written out as Articles and recommendations are not binding but suggested.
9. What is meant by a scientific name? Give three examples.
Scientific names are formal, universally accepted names, the rules and regulations of which for plants are provided by
the ICBN.
10. Which scientific names (i.e., at which rank) are always binomials (binary combinations)? Give an example of a binomial.
at the species level scientific names are always binomials. Malosma laurina
11. Who first consistently used the binomial and is called the “father of taxonomy?”
Carolus Linnaeus
12. What is the correct form of a binomial?
The first name of the binomial is the genus name and is always capitalized. The second name of the binomial is the
specific epithet. Binomial species names are always either italicized or underlined.
13. For Quercus dumosa Nuttall, what is (a) Quercus; (b) dumosa; (c) Quercus dumosa; (d) Nuttall?
Quercus is the genus name, dumosa is the specific epithet, Quercus dumosa is the species name and Nuttall is the
14. What are common names?
Common names are names generally used by people within a limited geographic region that is not formally published
and not governed by any rules.
15. Name the reasons scientific names are advantageous over common names.
Common names vary from region to region, they are not consistent, they give no information about the rank or
classification of a plant and many organisms do not have a common name thus only a scientific names can be used to
refer to these organisms.
16. What is the difference between rank and position?
Rank is one of the hierarchical taxonomic categories, in which a higher rank is inclusive of all lower ranks.
Position refers to the placement of a taxon as a member of another taxon of the next higher rank.
17. Name the standardized or recommended endings for scientific names at the ranks of phylum, class, subclass, superorder,
order, family, subfamily, tribe.
Phylum – phyta
Class – opsida
Subclass – idae
Superorder – ineae
Order – ales
Family – aceae
Subfamily – oideae
Tribe – eae
18. What is the rank of the following: (a) Conostylidoideae; (b) Flacourtiaceae; (c) Haemodoreae; (d) Asteridae; (e) Linnaea
borealis var. longiflora; (f) Liliopsida; (g) Magnoliophyta; (h) Rosales; (i) Tribonanthes; (j) Tribonanthes variegata; (k)
Phlebocarya ciliata subsp. pilosissima?
a. subfamily
b. family
c. tribe
d. subclass
e. variety
f. class
g. phylum
h. order
i. genus
j. species
k. subspecies
19. What is the additional, validly published name for the Apiaceae; Arecaceae; Asteraceae; Brassicaceae; Fabaceae;
Faboideae; Clusiaceae; Lamiaceae; Poaceae?
Apiaceae = Umbelliferae
Arecaceae = Palmae
Asteraceae = Compositae
Brassicaceae = Cruciferae
Fabaceae = Leguminosae
Faboideae = Papilionoideae
Clusiaceae = Guttiferae
Lamiaceae = Labiatae
Poaceae = Gramineae
20. What is a ternary name? What are two infraspecific ranks and which is “higher”?
A name that consists of three parts.
Either subspecies or variety. Subspecies is higher in rank.
21. What does the author of a scientific name refer to?
The author of a scientific name is the name of the person who first validly published the name.
22. Name four suggestions for memorizing scientific names.
Divide into syllables and accent scientific names.
Use mnemonic devices.
Learn the etymology (meaning) of scientific names.
Continual practice and review, repeat name orally and in writing.
23. What is meant by a nomenclatural “type”?
A nomenclatural type is a specimen that acts as a reference for a scientific name, upon with the name is based.
24. What is the difference between a holotype, isotype, lectotype, and neotype?
Holotype is the one specimen or illustration upon which a name is based, originally used or designated at the time of
Isotype is a duplicate specimen of the holotype, collected at the same time by the same person from the same
Lectotype is a specimen that is selected from the original material to serve as the type when no holotype was
designated at the time of publication or if it was lost or destroyed.
Neotype is a specimen derived from a non-original collection that is selected to serve as the type as long as all of the
material on which the name was originally based is missing.
25. What is the nomenclatural type of a family name?
A nomenclatural type is a specimen that acts as a reference for a scientific name of the genus, upon with the family
name is based.
26. What is meant by “priority of publication”?
Priority of publication generally states that of two or more competing possibilities for a name, the one published first
is the correct one.
27. When and with what publication does priority of publication officially begin?
The principle of priority for vascular plants starts May 1, 1753 with the publication of Species Plantarum.
28. What is an adverse consequence of priority of publication?
Scientific names that are well known and frequently used may be replaced by some other name if the latter was
discovered to have been published earlier.
29. What is conservation of names and how is this accomplished?
A petition may be presented and voted upon to conserve one name over another that actually has priority.
30. What are the two basic reasons for changing a scientific name?
Recognition that one name is contrary to the rules and another name must take its place.
Additional taxonomic study or research has resulted in a change of the definition n delimitation of a taxon.
31. Give the four major ways that names are changed and give an example of each.
One taxon may be divided into two or more taxa: Carduus of the family Asteraceae is often split into two genera:
Carduus, having barbellate pappus and Cirsium, with a plumose pappus bristle.
Two or more separate taxa may be united: Bebbia juncea and Bebbia aspera considered as one: Bebbia junca.
A taxon may be transferred in position: Rhus laurina was transferred in position to the genus Malosma, the new name
Malosma laurina.
A taxon may be changed in rank: e.g., Eruca sativa was changed to the rank of subspecies, the new combination Eruca
vesicaria subsp. sativa.
32. What is remodeling? Does it require a name change?
Remodeling is a change in diagnostic characteristics, those that distinguish the taxon from other taxa. A name change
is not warranted, and the rules of the ICBN need not apply.
33. What is a basionym?
A name-bringing or epithet-bringing synonym, the original (but now not accepted) name, part of which has been used
in a new combination.
34. What does it mean if an author’s name is in parentheses, e.g., Machaeranthera juncea (Greene) Hartman?
The name of the author(s) who originally named the basionym is/are put in parentheses if the name is retained. E.g.,
Greene originally authored a name including juncea in this case.
35. You decide that the taxon Xiphidium coeruleum Aublet should be transferred in position to the genus Schiekia. What is
the required new name (including authorship)? What if the new name had already been validly published?
Schiekia coeruleum (Aublet) Your Name.
If already published a new name must be created and published. No authorship in parentheses would be used:
E.g., Schekia newname Your Name.
36. You decide that the taxon Quercus albiniana (C. Jones) G. Smith subsp. tomentosa H. Carlisle should be elevated to the
rank of species. What is the new name to be called (including authorship)?
Quercus tomentosa (H. Carlisle) Your Name.
37. What is an autonym? Give an example of an autonym at the rank of subfamily, subgenus, or subspecies.
An autonym is the automatically generated name given to infrataxa like subfamilies, tribes sub-tribes, subgenera,
sections, infraspecies when the higher taxon is divided. Autonyms are based on the higher taxon name and have no
E.g., subfamily Euphorbioideae of the Euphorbiaceae.
E.g., subgenus Ceanothus of the genus Ceanothus.
E.g., subspecies L. stipularis (Benth.) E. Greene var. stipularis.
38. What are the main criteria of a validly published name?
Name must be effectively published.
It must be published in correct form, Latinized with rank indicated.
It must be accompanied by a Latin description or diagnosis or with a reference to such.
For a type must be indicated. For taxa of rank of genus or below, a nomenclatural type refers to a species and must
be indicated.
39. What is a protologue?
“Everything associated with a name at its valid publication, i.e., description or diagnosis, illustrations, references,
synonymy, geographical data, citation of specimens, discussion, and comments.”
40. What is a synonym?
A synonym is an unaccepted name, by a particular author or authors, applying to the same taxon as the accepted name.
41. What are the two major reasons a name may be rejected?
Synonyms are unaccepted for either of two reasons: (1) because they are illegitimate, i.e., contrary to the rules of the
ICBN; or (2) because of taxonomic judgment, i.e., a particular author rejects the classification represented by the
42. How can a name be legitimate yet not be correct?
A correct name is a validly published, legitimate name that is adopted by a particular author or authors. A particular
name may be legitimate and validly published, but not be correct if it is not adopted by author(s), e.g., based on
taxonomic judgement.
43. What can you infer from: Malacothrix incana (Nutt.) T. & G. [Malacomeris i. Nutt.] ?
T. & G. transferred the species Malacomeris incana in position, to the genus Malacothrix.
44. What can you infer from: Porophyllum gracile Benth. [P. caesium Greene; P. vaseyi Greene]?
Porophyllum. caesium Greene and Porophyllum vaseyi Greene are synonyms of and considered to be the same taxon as
Porophyllum gracile.
45. What can you infer from: Gilia diegensis (Munz) A. & V. Grant [G. inconspicua (Sm.) Sweet var. diegensis Munz] ?
A. & V. Grant elevated the variety Gilia inconspicua (Sm.) Sweet var. diegensis Munz to the rank of species.
46. What is a homonym? Is a later homonym legitimate or illegitimate?
One of two or more identical names that are based on different type specimens. The later homonym is illegitimate.
47. What is a tautonym? Are tautonyms acceptable in (a) botanical nomenclature; (b) zoological nomenclature?
a) A binomial in which the genus name and specific epithet are identical in spelling.
b) Acceptable in zoological, but not botanical nomenclature.
48. What is meant by “in” in authorship designations? How may such a designation be simplified?
“In” refers to a name published within a larger work authored by the person following the “in.”
The “in” and what follows it may be omitted from authorship.
49. What is meant by “ex” in authorship designations? How may such a designation be simplified?
“Ex” means validly published by, followed by the person who validly published the name. The name preceding the
“ex” is, e.g., the person who first proposed but did not validly publish the name.
“Ex” and what precedes it may be omitted from authorship.
50. What is the meaning of an “X” in a scientific name, as in Quercus Xmorehus?
It is a hybrid, of hybrid origin.
51. What is the meaning of auct. non, emend., ined., nom. nov., nom. nud., s.l., s.s., and vide (!)?
a) auct. non (auctorum non) means “not of these authors,” referring to a “misapplied” name, such that the type
specimen of the name does not fall within the circumscription of the taxon being referred to by that name.
b) emend. (emendatio) means a correction or amendment.
c) ined. (ineditus) means not validly published.
d) nom. nov. (nomen novum) means a new name, e.g., proposed as a substitute for an older name (e.g., an illegitimate
homonym, in which case the older name serves as the type for the new one).
e) nom. nud. (nomen nudum) means published without a description or diagnosis, making the name invalid.
f) s.l. (sensu lato) means “in the broad sense.”
g) s.s. or s.str. (sensu stricto) means “in the narrow sense.”
h) vide (video) means to cite a reference.
52. How does the fact that a plant and a bird have the same scientific name not violate the principles of the ICBN?
A principle of the ICBN is that botanical and zoological nomenclature are independent.
53. In what language are scientific names treated?
54. Name the three Latin genders and give the standardized genus endings.
55. What is one prominent exception to these gender endings?
The names of many, classical trees are feminine, regardless of their ending, e.g., Pinus, Quercus.
Also, when the specific epithet is a noun the ending must match the original gender of the noun and not with the genus
56. Names at which taxonomic ranks are always Latin plurals?
Anything above the rank of genus.
57. What is a commemorative name?
Named after a person or place.
58. What endings may commemorative names have?
-ii, -i, -ae, -ianus, -iana, -ianum, -ensis.
59. Are there universal rules for the pronunciation of scientific names?
No. But, general Latin rules for accenting and syllabizing may be followed.
60. What are the Latin diphthongs and how are they pronounced?
Long e
Long e
As in “aw”
Long i
Long u
As in “quick”
61. How is the combination “oi” properly pronounced in Latin?
The “o” and “i” are pronounced separately: “-o-ì-.”
62. What is the rule determining the number of syllables in a scientific name?
There are as many syllables as there are vowels or diphthongs.
63. Name some of the specific rules for converting scientific names to syllables (refer to Figure 16.3).
If a consonant occurs between two vowels/diphthongs, the consonant goes with the second. Exception: an “x” between
two vowels or diphthongs goes with the preceding one.
If two consonants occur between two vowels/dipthongs, they are split evenly (few exceptions such as br, cr, bl etc.).
If three or more consonants between two vowels/dipthongs all but the first goes with the second vowel/diphthong.
64. Name some of the specific rules for pronouncing scientific names (refer to Figure 16.4).
1) “C” or “g” is hard (pronounced like “k” or a hard “g,” respectively). Exceptions: “c” or “g” is soft (pronounced
like “s” or “j,” respectively) when followed by the letters/diphthongs e, i, y, ae, or oe.
2) When a word or root begins with cn, ct, gn, mn, pn, ps, pt or tm the first letter is silent; only the second letter is
3) “Ch” is hard, pronounced like “k.”
4) “X” at the beginning of word or root is pronounced like a “z.”
5) An “x” within a word is pronounced like “ks.”
6) A final “e” or “es” is long.
7) A final “a” is short.
8) A “y” is pronounced like a short “i.”
9) For “uu,” both “u”s are pronounced, the first long, the second short.
10) An “i” at the end of a syllable is short.
11) An “e” is long if it is derived from the Greek diphthong “ei.”
65. Name the basic rules for accenting scientific names.
The last syllable of a word is never accented unless the word has only one syllable.
If a word has two syllables, the accent always goes with the next to last (penult).
If a word has 3 or more syllables, the accent always goes either with the next to the last (penult) or the third from the
last (antepenult). It goes with the antepenult if the penult ends in a short vowel. It goes with the penult if the penult
ends in a consonant (having a short vowel in this case) or long vowel or diphthong.
66. Convert to syllables and pronounce the following names: Cleistes, Eucalyptus, microcarpa, Oenothera, Pyrus.
67. A commemorative (named after a person or place) may be pronounced in what two basic ways?
Either as it would be in Latin or as it would be pronounced as a person/place name.
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