Plant Nomenclature

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A nursery professional needs to know both common and botanical names of plants. Most
customers are more comfortable with the familiar common names. However, some customers
who are knowledgeable about plants will use botanical names in conversation. It is
important for nursery sales and service personnel to match their vocabulary to that of the
customer. Botanical names are important because they help assure that the customer is
purchasing the correct plant. For example, mock orange is a common name used to refer to
three shrubs with quite different growth habits. In this chapter we provide a brief overview
of how plant nomenclature developed, and what some of the Latin names mean. While it
is not necessary to memorize all of the names listed, it is necessary to understand the basic
construction of a botanical name.

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