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Naming and labeling of plants

There is nothing more disappointing than to find an interesting or remarkable plant without being able to find its name, or worse, to be given a wrong identification. It is our ambition to make sure that all our plants are always labeled and correctly identified.

For more information about labeling at Arboretum Wespelaar, have a look at our labeling user guide.

Botanists go through two stages in the naming of plants. First of all they will try to classify the plant, i.e. to place it within a taxon (which requires among others determining the Family, Genus and Species) this is the job of the taxonomist. The next step is the naming of that taxon; this is the realm of nomenclature. Unfortunately, botanists have great difficulty in agreeing on classification. Nomenclature on the other hand, has strict (but complex) rules, which can be found in the International Code of Nomenclature. Changes of names have become rare but remain very frustrating. At the Arboretum, you may sometimes find two labels on a plant, the latest name being placed above the previously accepted name.

Most world languages will have particular common names for common plants and there may even be different names in the same language for different regions or countries. Such common names rarely follow any logic of classification and do not allow one to communicate across frontiers. One example among others, the word "cedar" is used throughout the world, for dozens of conifers which often have nothing in common with the genus Cedrus. Given our choice of scientific approach to the study of plants and given the great number of visitors from different countries of the world, we have not found it practical to mention common names on our labels.

One will find two kinds of labels in the collection:

  • A display label: (12 x 7,5 cm) on a stake at the base of the plant, mentioning some general facts about the taxon such as the scientific name, the family, general geographical distribution and 'Wild Origin' if the plant is from wild origin. 
  • An individual identity label: (about 13 x 2 cm) hanging in the branches or screwed in the trunk at the base of larger trees; this label will mention all the specific data relating to the particular specimen (such as the scientific name, the unique accession number, the code for the source, and specific geographical origin in the case of wild collected specimen).

The catalogue will give details for each three letter source code (for instance, the code "wld" refers to plants known to be of wild origin). Perennial plants are identified with a simple numbered label. One should refer to the perennial plants list available at the reception desk or on this link.



Plantcol - Belgian Plant Collections

The PLANTCOL project highlights the wonderful splendour of Belgium's plant collections and leads the world in presenting this information to a worldwide public.

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