Botanical Name


Hummingbird Bush | Hamelia patens

Hummingbird Bush | Anisicanthus wrightii

Hummingbird Bush | Hamelia patens

 

Hummingbird Bush | Anisicanthus wrightii

What’s in a Name?

Like the names that identify people, plants have first and last names too. Plants’ names simply put last name first (capitalized) followed by the first name. You might say “the same as ours, but opposite.” John Smith in botanical structure would be Smith john. As in many scientific classifications, in the plant world the last name is called genus, and the first name is called species. The mystery in botanical names can be attributed to the language of Latin, considered the universal language. Unlike people names, Latin names will be the same all over the world.


Let’s Talk Plants

To make talking about plants more precise, botanical names often describe plant characteristics, such as leaf shape, flower color or plant form. Common names used in place of botanical names can be descriptive as well. However, common names are somewhat like nicknames and are not reliable when talking about or trying to find a plant. Several plants may answer to a common name though they arise from very different families and grow in different forms. A botanical name always identifies one specific plant. You don’t need to pronounce the botanical name – it often varies – but do take it with you to the nursery to avoid confusion and to make sure you get what you were looking for.


Return to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden home page

Online Brochures


  • Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert
    A guide to growing more than 200 low-water-use plants.
    Browse brochure
  • Landscape Watering by Numbers Landscape Watering by the Numbers
    Gives instruction for determining how much water your plants need. View Tools
  • Landscaping with Style Landscaping with Style
    A guide for planning,installing, and maintaining your landscape Browse Brochure