Q:

What are the botanical names for some common types of trees?

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Quick Answer

Douglas firs are known as Pseudotsuga menziesii, sugar maples are known as Acer saccharum and California palms are members of the Washingtonia genus. Loblolly pines are known as Pinus taeda, sweetgums are known as Liquidambar styraciflua and quaking aspen is known as Populus tremuloides.

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Full Answer

The modern system of botanical names comes from the work of Carl von Linne, a Swedish botanist. He developed the system of using two Latin words to describe each species, as complete descriptions were becoming too long to be practical.

The first word in a botanical name is the genus -- that is, a group of species that are all alike. The second word is the specific epithet, or sub-group of the genus. The species' full name consists of both the genus and the epithet.

When writing any plant's botanical name, capitalize the genus name. Using plants' botanical names helps avoid confusion, as several different plants may share a common name in different areas.

Different Latin terms are used to describe plants. For example, Campanula rotundifolia refers to a plant with bell-shaped flowers and round leaves. Campan is Latin for bell, rotund means round and folia means leaves.

The United States is home to around 865 species of trees, the most common of which include maples, firs and pines.

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