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common names and botanical names of wood

Botanical names of wood species are of the form "Genus epithet" where the Genus is the name of what could be a group of species, or it may contain only one species, and the epithet (also called the "specific epithet") is the specification of a particular species within that genus. The "Genus epithet" PAIR are the name of a species, so it is not correct to say that botanical names are of the form "Genus species" meaning that the second word is the species name. Both words TOGETHER are the name of a species.

So, for example, Quercus rubra is the species which is commonly called "red oak". Genera belong to families and the family for the genus Quercus is Fagaceae.

Genus spp. is used to designate a group of more than one species all in the same genus. "spp." means species (plural)

Genus sp. means that only a single species is being designated but it is uncertain WHICH species and only the genus is known. "sp." means species (singlular, even though it has the same spelling --- the word "specie" has to do with money, not botany.)

Botanical names are INTENDED to be unique, but for several reasons, they are in a great many cases not even close to being unique.

Common names are whatever people call the wood in day to day circumstances and it is not particularly unusual for a single speices to have, say, 200 different names (and that doesn't even COUNT the ones expressed in Asian or Russian characters/alphabets).

For a brief sample list of names just to show what they look like, sorted by common name or botanical name, click on one of the following:

names sorted by botanical name or names sorted by common name

I have compiled, from a number of sources on the internet, a list of over 170,000 common name / botanical name pairs. I make no representation as to the accuracy of this information and although it is extensive, I don't claim that it is complete. I'm updating it as I find errors. You can get it at:

170,000 NAMES