The scientific nomenclature for plants and animals are in Latin with the occasional Greek term and take a little getting used to. But can soon become as familiar as Homo sapiens, used to describe the human race, or tyrannosaurus rex, which as most children can tell you, is the name of a dinosaur.
The naming system which was proposed by Carl Linnaeus (a Swedish biologist) in 1758, to overcome the problem of different scientists calling the same plant or animal by different names, depending on their native language or country of origin.
This naming system is known as "binomial nomenclature" which translates "two name name-calling". Thus each species has two names a "generic" or "genus", and a "specific" name e.g. Amanita muscaria.
The genus name is always commences with a capital letter and the specific follows in lower case. The species name is either Italicize or underlined, and followed by a reference to the person who first described the particular species variant.
The different genera are further grouped into Families with members having features in common. Amanita muscaria
as mentioned above and Amanita australis
are grouped with the Amanitaceae
family. Family names always end with -aceae. Groups of families with broader likeness are then gathered into Orders, which all end in -ales. Thus Amanitaceae belong to the order Agaricales along with the Agaricaceae
which, is the family which, the common edible mushroom Agaricus campestris
belongs to. Once again orders are then grouped in to Subclasses or Class, which end in either mycetidae, or mycetes for the latter. The tree structure that this produces can be seen more clearly in the Evolutionary Tree
As we are all a little lazy the Latin names are often not written in full. The convention is that the first time a species is introduced its full Latin name is used. The next time that this species is mentioned the genus name is shortened to just the first letter. Any family members can now have their genus names also shortened without having to write it out in full. Whenever a new chapter or document is started, the full name must be used for the initial reference to a species. There are of course exceptions to these rules. Sometimes several species from different families have the same initial letter. In that case it's better to do as I have done, and use the full name each time to avoid confusion.