Photo by Melody

Definition of specific epithet

Categorized under "General"

Definition as written by Terry:

The name of a particular species in the binomial nomenclature system. Also referred to as epithet or species name

The species name can help distinguish a plant from other, similar species with a reference to the plant's notable characteristic (alba = white, longifolia = long leaves); region where the plant originated (japonicus = Japan, canadensis = Canada), or it may be a patronym commemorating the one who collected or discovered the plant (bartramii named after William Bartram), etc. However, many names are oblique references to an obscure namesake or a fanciful metaphor, so don't be disappointed it if you can't decipher a name without help from a botanical dictionary!

See also tautonym, basionym, patronym, and synonym.

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