Trinomial nomenclature

Last updated

In biology, trinomial nomenclature refers to names for taxa below the rank of species. These names have three parts. The usage is different in zoology and botany.


In zoology

For animals, scientific names are governed by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Only one rank is allowed below the rank of species: subspecies. For example, Buteo jamaicensis borealis is one of the subspecies of the red-tailed hawk species, Buteo jamaicensis.

In botany

For algae, fungi, plants, and their fossils, there is an indeterminate number of infraspecific ranks allowed below the level of species. The secondary ranks below the species rank are variety and forma, and more ranks can be made by using the prefix "sub" to make subspecies, subvariety, subforma. Very rarely even more forms are created, such as supersubspecies. Not all of these ranks need to be specified, for example, some authors prefer to divide plant species into subspecies, while others prefer to use varieties. [1]

These ranks are components of a biological classification, for example Corylopsis sinensis var. calvescens f. veitchiana is an ornamental garden plant. [2] However, a name is not the same as a classification, and the name of this plant is a trinomial with only three parts, [3] the two parts of the species name Corylopsis sinensis, plus the forma epithet veitchiana, to give Corylopsis sinensis f. veitchiana.

See also

Related Research Articles

Linnaean taxonomy Rank based classification system for organisms

Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts:

  1. the particular form of biological classification (taxonomy) set up by Carl Linnaeus, as set forth in his Systema Naturae (1735) and subsequent works. In the taxonomy of Linnaeus there are three kingdoms, divided into classes, and they, in turn, into lower ranks in a hierarchical order.
  2. a term for rank-based classification of organisms, in general. That is, taxonomy in the traditional sense of the word: rank-based scientific classification. This term is especially used as opposed to cladistic systematics, which groups organisms into clades. It is attributed to Linnaeus, although he neither invented the concept of ranked classification nor gave it its present form. In fact, it does not have an exact present form, as "Linnaean taxonomy" as such does not really exist: it is a collective (abstracting) term for what actually are several separate fields, which use similar approaches.

Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms as well as viruses. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

In biological classification, the order is

  1. a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. The well-known ranks in descending order are: life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family. An immediately higher rank, superorder, is sometimes added directly above order, with suborder directly beneath order.
  2. a taxonomic unit in the rank of order. In that case the plural is orders.

In biological classification, a subfamily is an auxiliary (intermediate) taxonomic rank, next below family but more inclusive than genus. Standard nomenclature rules end subfamily botanical names with "-oideae", and zoological names with "-inae".

Subspecies Taxonomic rank subordinate to species

In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics. A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term may be abbreviated to subsp. or ssp. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.

Subgenus Taxonomic rank

In biology, a subgenus is a taxonomic rank directly below genus.

In biology, a tribe is a taxonomic rank above genus, but below family and subfamily. It is sometimes subdivided into subtribes. By convention, all taxonomic ranks from genus upwards are capitalized, including both tribe and subtribe.

In botanical nomenclature, variety is a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies, but above that of form. As such, it gets a three-part infraspecific name. It is sometimes recommended that the subspecies rank should be used to recognize geographic distinctiveness, whereas the variety rank is appropriate if the taxon is seen throughout the geographic range of the species.

A subvariety in botanical nomenclature is a taxonomic rank. They are rarely used to classify organisms.

Form (botany) One of the secondary taxonomic ranks, below that of variety, in botanical nomenclature

In botanical nomenclature, a form is one of the "secondary" taxonomic ranks, below that of variety, which in turn is below that of species; it is an infraspecific taxon. If more than three ranks are listed in describing a taxon, the "classification" is being specified, but only three parts make up the "name" of the taxon: a genus name, a specific epithet, and an infraspecific epithet.

Botanical name Scientific name for a plant, alga or fungus

A botanical name is a formal scientific name conforming to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and, if it concerns a plant cultigen, the additional cultivar or Group epithets must conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The code of nomenclature covers "all organisms traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants, whether fossil or non-fossil, including blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), chytrids, oomycetes, slime moulds and photosynthetic protists with their taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups ."

Race (biology) Informal rank in the taxonomic hierarchy, below the level of subspecies

In biological taxonomy, race is an informal rank in the taxonomic hierarchy for which various definitions exist. Sometimes it is used to denote a level below that of subspecies, while at other times it is used as a synonym for subspecies. It has been used as a higher rank than strain, with several strains making up one race. Races may be genetically distinct populations of individuals within the same species, or they may be defined in other ways, e.g. geographically, or physiologically. Genetic isolation between races is not complete, but genetic differences may have accumulated that are not (yet) sufficient to separate species.

Nomenclature codes or codes of nomenclature are the various rulebooks that govern biological taxonomic nomenclature, each in their own broad field of organisms. To an end-user who only deals with names of species, with some awareness that species are assignable to families, it may not be noticeable that there is more than one code, but beyond this basic level these are rather different in the way they work.

In botany, an infraspecific name is the scientific name for any taxon below the rank of species, i.e. an infraspecific taxon or infraspecies. The scientific names of botanical taxa are regulated by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). This specifies a 'three part name' for infraspecific taxa, plus a 'connecting term' to indicate the rank of the name. An example of such a name is Astrophytum myriostigma subvar. glabrum, the name of a subvariety of the species Astrophytum myriostigma.

Trinomen In zoological nomenclature, a trinomen is a name with three parts

In zoological nomenclature, a trinomen (pl. trinomina), trinominal name, or ternary name, refers to the name of a subspecies. Examples are Gorilla gorilla gorilla for the western lowland gorilla, and Bison bison bison for the plains bison.

In botanical nomenclature, author citation is the way of citing the person or group of people who validly published a botanical name, i.e. who first published the name while fulfilling the formal requirements as specified by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). In cases where a species is no longer in its original generic placement, both the authority for the original genus placement and that for the new combination are given.

Forma specialis, abbreviated f. sp. without italics, is an informal taxonomic grouping allowed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, that is applied to a parasite which is adapted to a specific host. This classification may be applied by authors who do not feel that a subspecies or variety name is appropriate, and it is therefore not necessary to specify morphological differences that distinguish this form. The literal meaning of the term is 'special form', but this grouping does not correspond to the more formal botanical use of the taxonomic rank of forma or form.

In botanical nomenclature, autonyms are automatically created names, as regulated by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants that are created for certain subdivisions of genera and species, those that include the type of the genus or species. An autonym might not be mentioned in the publication that creates it as a side-effect. Autonyms "repeat unaltered" the genus name or species epithet of the taxon being subdivided, and no other name for that same subdivision is validly published. For example, Rubus subgenus Eubatus is not validly published, and the subgenus is known as Rubus subgen. Rubus.

Taxonomic rank Level in a taxonomic hierarchy

In biological classification, taxonomic rank is the relative level of a group of organisms in a taxonomic hierarchy. Examples of taxonomic ranks are species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, domain, etc.

This is a list of terms and symbols used in scientific names for organisms, and in describing the names. For proper parts of the names themselves, see List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names. Note that many of the abbreviations are used with or without a stop.


  1. Hamilton, C.W.; Reichard, S.H. (1992). "Current practice in the use of subspecies, variety, and forma in the classification of wild plants". Taxon. 41 (3): 485–498. doi:10.2307/1222819. JSTOR   1222819.
  2. "Royal Horticultural Society Plant Selector".
  3. McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Vol. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN   978-3-87429-425-6. article 24.1