In the 1700s Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus created a system for classifying living things. This binomial, or two part naming system, is still used today to group organisms based on their genus and species. This system allows scientists from all over the world to communicate the scientific name of species, regardless of differences in common names.
From time to time new research means that species that have had the same scientific name for hundreds of years get renamed, as is the case of common garden herb rosemary. The herb has long been classified as having its very own genus ‘Rosmarinus’ since the 18th century. Now DNA analysis has shown what close inspection of the plant could not, that Rosmarinus officinalis actually belongs in the genus ‘Salvia’ along with sage. To reflect this, rosemary has now been scientifically renamed Salvia rosmarinus.
This renaming of such a common herb is likely to cause confusion among gardeners, but the Royal Horticultural Society is keen to point out that accuracy is important. The binomial system was created to accurately reflect relationships between living species, and using genetic information is allowing botanists to update knowledge about common species.
Source: Financial Times
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