Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Identifying trees - Nomenclature

Binomial nomenclature is a system for classifying living beings according to their genus and species only. It was invented by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (1707-1778). The Latin scientific names are used in binomial nomenclature so that scientists around the world can use the same language to share their observations.

The genus is a taxon (Unit of identification and classification of a group of plants, regardless of their rank.) that groups together several species that share a certain number of morphological characteristics. Ex. Acer is the Latin name of the maple.

The species is the fundamental unit of taxonomy. It groups together individuals having similar morphological characteristics that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Ex. The silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) are two species.

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