What's in a name? It is human nature to name things. We use names to communicate information and assign an identity to people and objects. For plants, fungi, and other organisms there are several kinds of names:

(plural: taxa) is a general term meaning a group or rank, such as a species, a variety, a genus, a family, etc.Learn more

are official names that follow rules of taxonomy to uniquely identify a taxon, such as a species or family. Example: Ulmus americana and Ulmaceae.Learn more

are different names for the same taxon. Example: Ulmus floridana is a synonym of Ulmus americana.Learn more

are nicknames that vary between regions and languages. They follow no rules and often are not unique. Example: American elm.Learn more

Information provided on this page applies to the Chicago Region and may not be relevant or complete for other regions.