BH&G Plant Name Style

Common names

Most stories don’t need to include a botanical name. Just use the common name and add the cultivar if we have it.

  • ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum
  • ‘Little Spire’ Russian sage

Some plants have the same name for common and botanical uses; all these should be lc Roman.

  • aloe
  • heuchera
  • coleus
  • lisianthus
  • hosta

Botanical names

When needed in a story about plantings or a more technical story, we can give both botanical and common names. This will be needed only when mentioning a special, unusual plant.

  • Holywood (Guaiacum santum)
  • Christmas heliconia (Heliconia angusta)

The genus and species names may be followed by:

Subspecies: a naturally occurring, distinct variant of a species, indicated by subsp. in roman type. This is a higher division than “variety.”

  • Prunus lusitanica subsp. azorica

Varieties and forms: minor subdivisions of a species, differing slightly in their botanical structure. Indicated by var. and f. in roman type.

  • The pink variety of the Pacific dogwood is Cornus florida var. rubra.

Hybrids (or crosses): naturally or artificially produced offspring of genetically distinct parent plants. Use a Dimension X to indicate hybrids.

  • Viola x wittrockiana

Cultivars: selected or artificially raised, distinct variants of species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and hybrids. Cultivars will not come true from seed, so are usually propagated asexually by cloning. Denoted by single quotes, capped, no ital. If punctuation follows the cultivar name, the punctuation is placed outside the single quotation mark:

  • Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’
  • Echinops bannaticus ‘Albus’

Also, it is possible to have a cultivar of a variety:

  • Berberis thunbergia var. atropurpurea ‘Chenault’

Mix, Series, Strain: Multiples of a single cultivar. Put in single quotes as we do cultivars.

Trademarked plants

Put in single quotes as we do cultivars.

Vegetables
  • ‘Black Nebula’ carrots Stay dark even after cooking. ‘Silver Queen’ okra An heirloom variety from long ago.
  • With so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from, it’s hard to pick one. For hybrid varieties, grow ‘Better Boy’, ‘Big Beef’, ‘Pink Girl’, and ‘Celebrity’.

W

watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)
waterleaf (Hydrophyllum)
water pimpernel or brookweed (Samolus parviflorus)
waterwort (Elatine)
wax vine; wax vines: Cape ivy (Senecio macroglossus)
weeds [close up all “weed” words unless the first word is a proper name; see A–Z for other listings]:
beggarweed (Desmodium)
chickweed: common chickweed (Stellaria media)
duckweed, common (Lemna minor)
duckweed, giant (Spirodela oligorhiza)
duckweed [tiny leaves] (Wolffia arrhiza)
jewelweed (Impatiens)
Jimson weed (Datura stramonium)
pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)
pigweed (Amaranthus)
ragweed (Ambrosia)
silverweed (Potentilla anserina)
waxweed, tropical or Columbian (Cuphea carthagenensis)
whippoorwill flower; whippoorwill flowers (Trillium cernuum)
Wichuraiana (see Rosa wichuraiana in A–Z)
woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)

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Temperatures

Temperatures for garden publications should be in Fahrenheit degrees in the following forms:

For positive degrees, place the number, followed by the degree sign (option-shift-8) and a capital F. There should be no spaces between the elements.
The average January temperature is 35°F.
The temperature should be 40°F–60°F.

For negative degrees, use an en-dash to create the negative.
The average February temperature is –35°F.

 


 

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SIM plant names style: Trademarked plants

Some companies are attempting to trademark plant names. In these cases, capitalize the name
but do not put it in single quotes. Trademarks are adjectives and must come before the plant name, whether common or botanical. Here are some common examples:
Bonica rose
Brandywine crabapple
Carefree Beauty rose
Carefree Delight rose
Carefree Wonder rose
Diabolo Physocarpus
Endless Summer hydrangea
Graham Thomas rose
Heritage birch
Heritage rose
Ivory Halo dogwood
Knock Out rose
Niobe willow
Northern Burgundy viburnum
Pink Meidiland rose (or any other Meidiland Series rose)
Red Jewel crabapple
Tinkerbelle lilac
Wine & Roses Weigela
Midnight Wine Weigela

 


 

SIM plant names style
Common names
Parentheses
Scientific names
• Trademarked plants

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SIM plant names style: Scientific names

Parts of a plant name include:

Genus
MCM:
capitalize and italicize. It is the same in singular or plural form; do not add “s.”
Laurentia, Heuchera …

Species
MCM: not capitalized but italicized.
Laurentia fluviatilis, Heuchera sanguinea …

An editor may refer to multiple species using the abbreviation spp.
For example: Buxus spp.

If, however, there is a single plant, and the species and/or variety is unknown, then use sp., as in,
“Shown here is a large juniper (Juniperus sp.) …

Note: When listing multiple species of the same genus, abbreviate the genus after first reference:
Clematis terniflora, C. macropetala, C. recta.

The genus and species names may be followed by:
Subspecies: a naturally occurring, distinct variant of a species, indicated by subsp. in roman type. This is a higher division than “variety.”
Prunus lusitanica subsp. azorica
Varieties and forms: minor subdivisions of a species, differing slightly in their botanical structure. Indicated by var. and f. in roman type.
The pink variety of the Pacific dogwood is Cornus florida var. rubra.
Hybrids: (or crosses) naturally or artificially produced offspring of genetically distinct parent plants. Use a Dimension X to indicate hybrids.
Viola x wittrockiana
Cultivars: selected or artificially raised, distinct variants of species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and hybrids. Cultivars will not come true from seed, so are usually propagated asexually by cloning. Denoted by single quotes, capped, no ital. If punctuation follows the cultivar name, the punctuation is placed outside the single quotation mark:
‘Kristina’
Rhododendron ‘Elsie Frye’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, and Lilium ‘Côte d’ Azur’.

Note: It is not always necessary to include both cultivar name and species name. Use is at the editor’s discretion.
Aster amellus
Aster amellus ‘King George’
Aster ‘King George’

Also, it is possible to have a cultivar of a variety:
Berberis thunbergia var. atropurpurea ‘Chenault’

Mix, Series, Strain: Multiples of a single cultivar. When using strain, mix, or series with a cultivar name, such as Consolida Cloudy Skies Mix, don’t use single quotes around the cultivar name (‘Cloudy Skies’ in this example). When naming a specific color in the cultivar group, do use single quotes (Consolida ‘Cloudy Skies Blue’). See also Trademarked Plants.

 


 

SIM plant names style
Common names
Parentheses
• Scientific names
Trademarked plants

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SIM plant names style: Parentheses

Italicize parentheses when the type inside them is entirely italic. If the type inside is roman or a mix of italic and roman, make the parentheses roman. (Opening and closing parentheses should always be the same type style.)

italic: Pink phlox and purple obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) contrast with yellow and white snapdragons.
roman: Don’t forget about dogwood (Cornus spp.), fragrant and staghorn sumac (Rhus aromatica and R. typhina), and fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii and F. major).

 


 

SIM plant names style
Common names
• Parentheses
Scientific names
Trademarked plants

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SIM plant names style: common names

Unless the plant’s scientific name and common name is the same, the common name should be lowercase, roman.

In common names that include a proper noun, capitalize the proper noun:
coneflower
butterfly bush
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Shasta daisy
black-eyed Susan

Copy editors should question common names when they find discrepancies; however, many plants have more than one common name, and the choice of which common name to use is at the editor’s discretion.

Some plants share common and scientific names. They may appear as lowercase and roman when the usage is common, or they may appear with caps and italics when the usage is botanical, at the editor’s discretion. Here are some examples:
aloe
anemone
asparagus
aster
astilbe
begonia
bougainvillea
caladium
camellia
canna
celosia
clematis
cleome
coleus
coreopsis
cosmos
crocus
dahlia
delphinium
dianthus
forsythia
fuchsia
gardenia
hibiscus
hosta
hydrangea
impatiens
iris
lisianthus
lobelia
magnolia
narcissus
petunia
phlox
rhododendron
salvia
sedum
verbena
veronica
viburnum
viola
wisteria
yucca
zinnia

Some names designate different plant genera when used commonly or scientifically. Therefore, it’s best to clarify them on first reference by using both common and scientific names. In subsequent references, capitalize and italicize when referring to genera and lowercase and romanize when referring to the common name.
azalea (Rhododendron spp.) or rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
bacopa (Sutera cordata) or water hyssop (Bacopa spp.)
blue mist spiraea (Caryopteris spp.) or spiraea (Spiraea spp.)
cranesbill (Geranium spp.) or geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
chrysanthemum (Leucanthemum spp.)
vanilla: extract of beans from the Vanilla vine, which also produces orchids
 


 


SIM plant names style

• Common names
Parentheses
Scientific names
Trademarked plants

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Rose Style

Generally, lowercase rose types (floribunda rose, ‘Mr. Philby’ hybrid tea rose) unless the name is a proper noun (English roses, Scotch roses) or to avoid confusion (Use Old Garden roses to create a beautiful arrangement.).

Use A–Z as the primary reference for rose names. Names not included there may be confirmed in Dobson and Schneider’s Combined Rose List (a copy is available in the CE reference cabinet) or via a Google search.

Be aware that a growing number of rose names are trademarked plant names, not cultivars. (Trademarked names are noted in the Combined Rose List with ® or ™.) Capitalize them, as you would any other trademark, but do not use registration symbols. Trademarks should not be placed in single quotes. As adjectives, trademarks must come before the plant name.
Rosa ‘Golden Wings’ (cultivar name)
Golden Bouquet rose (trademarked name)

For more information, see Trademarked plants

 


 

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G

globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
globethistle (Echinops)
glory flower; glory flowers (Eccremocarpus scaber)
gloxinia, florist’s (Sinningia speciosa) [others, see Gloxinia in A–Z] godetia (Clarkia spp.)
Granny Smith apples
grass, grasses (updated 10/23/18)
Ornamental grasses are open (feather reed grass, tufted hair grass, bottlebrush grass, switch grass, fountain grass, Indian grass)
Turfgrasses are closed (bluegrass, ryegrass, lovegrass, buffalograss), unless the name includes a proper noun, in which case it is open (St. Augustine grass)

green bean; green beans
ground ivy (Glecoma hederacea)
Grüss an Achen rose

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