Home > All About Vegetables > Introduction to Vegetable Families

Introduction to Vegetable Families

By: Lynn Jones - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Botanical Latin Plant Families Genus

Why Learn Those Fancy Latin Names?

Vegetables belong to botanical plant families, which are known by Latin names. Why is it important to know a vegetable's botanical, or Latin name? First, botanical names positively identify plants, distinguishing between related varieties. Common names may differ regionally. For example, the vegetable whose Latin botanical name is Solanum melongena is called an eggplant in North America and an aubergine in Britain. Secondly, for gardening purposes, plants in the same botanical grouping have common growth requirements and are susceptible to the same diseases and pests. Thirdly, plants in the same species can cross-pollinate, important when deciding where to plant crops in the garden. And lastly, crop rotation requires knowing if crops are in the same family.

What's in a (Botanical) Name?

A botanical plant name has two parts: the first word is the genus, the second the species. For example, Allium cepa is the grouping to which the common onion belongs. Allium is the genus, cepa the species. A variety is a variation within a species, indicated by "var." in the name, for example Allium cepa var. Yellow Sweet Spanish. A cultivar - a cultivated variety - is one that doesn't reproduce true to form naturally without human intervention. In other words, if you plant a seed from a cultivar, you won't necessarily get the same plant. A cultivar name is always enclosed in single quotes. An example of a cultivar is Allium cepa 'Sweet Vidalia'.

That's it for the Latin lesson! Now take a look at some our other articles, to see some of the members of the most common botanical families.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Robyn
    Re: Growing Squash and Pumpkins
    @Freemind - They will happily grow on a teepee type arrangement. They are fine growing up high, you can stablise them if you thing…
    17 July 2018
  • Freemind
    Re: Growing Squash and Pumpkins
    Was given some onion squash seeds. Have four successful plants 3 of which have squash growing on them. I put up sticks because they…
    16 July 2018
  • Kamel
    Re: Everything You Need To Know About Brassica Vegetables
    search for any work i am agricultural engineer vegetables and foods
    22 June 2018
  • ella_TP
    Re: Growing and Using Artichokes
    Artichokes are best planted as began seedlings in trenches eight inches profound, fixed with one inch of fertilizer or decayed…
    26 February 2018
  • Rabby
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    I've been doing my own pickled onions for myself and my family for 30 years and I di them the same every year . I have about 10 of…
    16 February 2017
  • MrsF
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    I've done my 1st jars of onions today using 1/2 a 4kg pack of Parrish's onions. I'm using Sarsons pickling vinegar with…
    30 October 2016
  • Silverfox
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    When making a brine for pickles you need a tablespoon of salt for every pint of water, leave pickles in for no more than 24hrs. 3…
    28 October 2016
  • Pickles
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    I live in Spain and am having great difficulty in buying pickleing onions, anyone got any idea where I can buy them as I need…
    16 October 2016
  • Ian
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    Hi, I am in the process of doing some pickle onions. Yesterday I made a brine solution with approx 5 ltrs water and went a bit…
    5 October 2016
  • Minety15
    Re: Pickling Onions and Shallots
    Hi, I've been given a jar of pickled shallots and they are soft, does anyone know if it's possible to crisp them up again…
    30 September 2016