Botanical Latin Descriptions and Diagnoses

a project of
V. F. Thomas Co. - 167 Thorne Mountain Road - Canton, Maine  04221

(updated 24 April 2023)

A description gives one or more character states of one or more characters for a taxon. Taxa below are species.

A diagnosis compares a new taxon (here, a species) with a known one (i.e., one that has been previously described or diagnosed.

Names used below Species names below that are links are the current names. Names that are not links are those that were given when the species were originally named/described. Following each unlinked name is a reference/link to the current name.

Thank you to Tom Hayward, lecturer emeritus in Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine), for his help when I find myself struggling with a translation. In the end, however, I accept responsibility for any errors in this glossary or in the associated translations unless I can find some way to blame them on Tom (or on anyone else). Comments and corrections are welcome and should be sent to Thanks.

Links to translations of botanical Latin descriptions of species:

- A -
   Abies alba
   Abies mariana (now Picea mariana)
   Abies balsamea
   Amomum cardamomum (now Elettaria cardamomum)
   Amomum granum-paradisi
   Amomum zerumbet (now Zingiber zerumbet)
   Amomum zingiber (now Zingiber officinale)
- B -
   Boerhavia erecta
   Boesenbergia rotunda
- C -
   Canna angustifolia (now Canna glauca)
   Canna glauca
   Canna indica
   Cedrus libani
   Chamaecyparis thyoides
   Cheiridopsis rostrata
   Chironia trinervia (now Exacum trinervium)
   Comptonia peregrina
   Cupressus disticha (now Taxodium distichum)
   Cupressus sempervirens
   Cupressus thyoides (now Chamaecyparis thyoides)
   Curcuma longa
   Curcurma rotunda (now Boesenbergia rotunda)
- D -
   Dendrolycopodium obscurum
   Diphasiastrum complanatum
- E -
   Elettaria cardamomum
   Exacum trinervium
- F -
- G -
- H -
   Huperzia selago
- I -
   Iris versicolor (now Limniris versicolor)
- J -
   Juniperus communis
- K -
   Kaempferia galanga
   Kaempferia rotunda
- L -
   Larix decidua
   Lathraea anblatum
   Limniris versicolor
   Liquidambar peregrina (now Comptonia peregrina)
   Lycopodium complanatum (now Diphasiastrum complanatum)
- M -
   Mesembryanthemum rostratum (now Cheiridopsis rostrata)
- N -
- O -
- P -
   Picea abies
   Picea glauca
   Picea mariana
   Pinus abies (now Picea abies)
   Pinus balsamea (now Abies balsamea)
   Pinus canadensis (now Tsuga canadensis)
   Pinus cedrus (now Cedrus libani)
   Pinus cembra
   Pinus larix (now Larix decidua)
   Pinus picea (now Abies alba)
   Pinus pinea
   Pinus strobus
   Pinus sylvestris
   Pinus taeda
- Q -
- R -
- S -
   Salvia sclarea
- T -
   Taxodium distichum
   Thuja occidentalis
   Thuja orientalis
   Tsuga canadensis
- U -
- V -
   Viburnum acerifolium
   Viburnum nudum
- W -
- X -
- Y -
- Z -
   Zingiber officinale
   Zingiber zerumbet