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How to Write a Scientific Name Correctly



There are precise conventions to follow when writing a scientific name.
Genus Name

1. The genus name is written first.
2. The genus name is always
underlined
or italicised.
3. The first letter of the genus name is always capitalized
Example:
Astrophytum
or Astrophytum

Specific Name

1. The specific epithet is written second.
2. The specific epithet is always
underlined
or italicised.
3. The first letter of the specific epithet name is never capitalized.
Example:
myriostigma
or myriostigma
Scientific Name - The scientific name of this plant would appear as follows:
Astrophytum myriostigma
or Astrophytum myriostigma

Mutations? Frequently a particular individual of a species will mutate to a diverse colour, size, or growth habit. These characteristics are passed on to its descendants (offspring’s). When this happens, a population of plants exists with the same scientific name, but a sub-group displays different characteristics. If the mutated group is significantly different from the parents and is stable (the traits are passed on from generation to generation), then this new group of plants is often assigned a variety name.

Variety Names

A. Variety names are given when the mutation occurs in nature. (E.g. a mutation occurs in a wild arid land)
B. The abbreviation var. is used to signify that the mutation is a variety. var. is placed after the specific epithet and is not underlined or italicised.
Example: Astrophytum myriostigma var.
1. The variety name is written after var.
2. Capitalize the first letter of the variety name only if it is a proper noun. (e.g. Pediocactus peeblesianus var. Menzelii)
3. Underline or italicise the variety name.
Example:
Astrophytum myriostigma
var.
strongylogonum
or Astrophytum myriostigma var. strongylogonum

Form (forma) Names

A. Form names are given for sporadic or minor variations occurring among individuals of any population, mainly in horticultural applications (e.g. a mutation in spine length or flower colour)
B. The abbreviation f. is used to signify that the mutation is a form. forma (f.) is placed after the specific epithet and is not underlined or italicised.
Example: Astrophytum myriostigma f.
1. The form name is written after forma (f.)
2. Do not capitalize the first letter (e.g. Astrophytum myriostigma f. quadricostata)
3. Underline or italicise the variety name.
Example:
Astrophytum myriostigma
forma
quadricostata
or Astrophytum myriostigma f. quadricostata

Mutations can also take place because of human involvement such as breeding, applying mutagens, propagation, or by cultural practices. In these cases, the new group of mutated plants is called a cultivar. "Cultivar" is an abbreviated form of cultivated variety. The mutated plants are assigned a cultivar name.

Cultivar Names

A. Cultivar names are given when the mutation occurs due to human influence.
Examples: a mutation occurs in a green house.
B. The abreviation cv. is used to signify that the mutation is a cultivar. cv. is placed after the specific epithet and is not underlined or italicised.
Example: Astrophytum myriostigma cv. Onzuka.
or single quotes are used instead of cv.
Example: Astrophytum myriostigma 'Onzuka'
The cultivar name is written after cv. or within the single quotes.
Capitalize the cultivar name.
Never underline or italicise the cultivar name.
Example:
Astrophytum myriostigma
cv. Onzuka. or Astrophytum myriostigma ‘Onzuka'

Author: John Chippindale, Leeds, England

Index of Articles
Introductory and Naming
     Wherefore Art Thou Cactaceae?
     How to Write a Scientific Name Correctly
     Cacti & Succulent Identification
     Cereus Peruvianus -The Least and Best Known Cactus
     More About Cereus Peruvianus

Cultivation and How-To
     The Sun Burned Cacti
     Grafting on Pereskiopsis
     Making Your Own Cactus Soil
     Growing NON-Hardy Cacti in Cold Climates
     Tools of the Trade
     Growing Cactus with Artificial Light
     Making a Hypertufa Planter
     Cactus Flowers - Fake or Real?
     How-To-NOT Build a Cactus Terrarium
     Raising Cactus From Seed
     Growing Cacti in Terracotta

Conservation
     Is Cultivation Conservation?
     Interview: Cactus Conservation in Paraguay with Alex Arzberger
     The Fate of the Minnesota Ball Cactus

Variety
     A Cactus Odyssey in Arizona
     Mangrove Cactus
     Have a Cup of Cactus
     Opuntia as an Invasive Species in Australia
     The Creating of "Springtime Succulence"
     Making Botanical Illustrations
     Adapt or Perish
     Chasing the Wild Epis
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