When it comes to plants, being able to precisely identify and classify a plant is critical when communicating with others. If we go just by common names, there are many ways we can get confused. For example, flowering maple (Abutilon) is not a maple (Acer). The plant “bluebell” usually refers to a species of Mertensia in North America, Hyacinthoides non-scripta in England, and Sollya heterophylla in Australia. Regional, international, and language differences can also add to the confusion.

As a result, botanical Latin/scientific naming has been used to govern the naming of plants according to an accepted set of rules: the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). The purpose is to standardize plants to a single name globally for a specific plant or group. Botanical names can be in one, two, or three parts depending on how specific the classicification gets. For example: pinophyta refers to species in the conifer family, solanum lycopersicum refers to tomato plants, and Camelia sinensis var. sinensis refers to a specific kind of tea bush.

As you continue reading and learning about your favourite plant species, be sure to make a note of the plant’s botanical name so that if you ever need to identify or describe the plant, whether at a garden center, garden show, or anywhere plant enthusiasts congregate, you can be sure everyone will know what you’re talking about and avoid potential confusion.

To conclude, here are few of the botanical names of some of the most common plants we like to grow:

Nightshade Family
Tomato Solanum lycopersicum
Peppers Capsicum anuum
Eggplant Solanum melongena


Legume Family
Beans Phaseolus vulgaris
Peas Pisum sativum


Cucurbit Family
Cucumber Cucumis sativus
Zucchini Cucurbita pepo
Butternut Squash Cucurbita moschata


Lettuce Lactuca sativa
Spinach Spinacia oleracea
Swiss Chard Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla
Kale Brassica oleracea Acephala group
Mizuna Brassica rapa nipposinica
Arugula Eruca sativa


Root Veg
Beets Beta vulgaris
Carrots Daucus carota subsp. sativus
Radishes Raphanus sativus


Onion Family
Green Onions Allium cepa var. cepa
Shallots Allium cepa var. aggregatum
Garlic Allium sativum
Leeks Allium ampeloprasum


Basil Ocimum basilicum
Parsley Petroselinum crispum
Thyme Thymus vulgaris
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
Mint Mentha
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Cilantro Coriandrum sativum
Sage Salvia officinalis


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