Latin Names and Nomenclature Questions…

I posted the following in the Gardening community ( link )

Hello Fellow Plant-lovers… I’ve just began to get interested in the Latin names of my various plants and have a few questions about nomenclature. Please forgive me/correct me if I’m using the incorrect terms.

I’m using these 6 examples for the questions below:
a. Kalanchoe tomentosa
b. Crassula perfoliata ‘Falcata’
c. Crassula perfoliata var. falcata
d. Crassula perfoliata falcata ‘Morgans Beauty’
e. Crassula perfoliata ssp. falcata
f. Crassula lycopodioides f. variegata

I generally have seen the Latin names as [Genus species] as in (a). I’ve also seen [Genus species ‘Something’] as in (b).

1. Is the ‘Something’ between the single quotes called a “cultivar”?

Today as I was surfing Google, I ran into a couple of unfamiliar nomenclatures (c-f)

2. Is (c) equivalent to (b)?… and what does “var.” mean?
3. In (d) they have 4 terms. Is this a correct usage?
4. In (e) and (f), what does “ssp.” and “f.” mean.

Sorry, if I sound so elementary. I’ve generally been using the common names of my plants, but recently discovered I have a couple of plants that have the same common name, like “Jade Plant”.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

Also, if any one of you is good at identifying plant names, I have a photo set on flickr.com with plants I can’t identify. You can check it out here. ( link )

  • “ssp.” means subspecies.
    “var.” means variety.
    “f.” means form.

    Here is a good rundown on those three: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/htbg/module2/plant_names2.shtml

    Cultivars are plants that do not occur naturally. Cultivar names are commonly enclosed in single quotes.

    Hybrids, which are sometimes listed as Genus SpeciesA x. SpeciesB are crosses. These usually do not breed true and are propogated by cuttings, etc.

    Unfortunately and annoyingly, as you have probably noticed, there are several conventions for these things, and no absolute rules for most.

    (b), (c), and (e) look like they are the same thing, though (e) is calling it a subspecies instead of a variety. (d) is a cultivar of (b)(c)(e).

    For my own use, I often limit myself to only typing Genus species ‘Cultivar’ and leaving out the ssp/var/f/x.

    • Thank you very much for all that information and also for that link!!! I didn’t even know that a cultivar doesn’t occur naturally. I’ll keep reading about this and study the differences between subspecies, variety and form. Who would have known that I would find this subject fascinating :)

  • I find your journal to be just great…so informative and interesting. Would you mind if I added you to my friends list?

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad that my journal is informative and interesting to you and others. My goal when I started was to document my garden’s progress and learn from my success and mistakes, so I would have a better garden next year. Reading other garden entries and getting comment on mine has really taught me a lot… and I find myself getting more and more into plants and gardening…

      By all means, add me to your friends list… We’re here to learn from each other…