Binomial Nomenclature | History, Rules, Examples and Importance

Introduction to Binomial Nomenclature

The word nomenclature is derived from two latten words i.e “nomen” which means name “Clare” which means to call, so it means to call by name. In biology, each group of organisms, be it plants or animals, or microorganisms is already classified under special divisions, according to their similarities and features. Therefore these living organisms should also have a common naming system that makes it easier to understand them better.

A common system of naming is essential so that it makes it widely accepted throughout the world. And therefore there evolved a system called the binomial nomenclature. This helped to a great extent in maintaining the standardization in naming living things.

A system through which organisms, including plants, animals, microorganisms, and other living things are given distinct scientific names is called Nomenclature.

“Binomial nomenclature is the biological system of naming the organisms in which the name is composed of two terms, where, the first term indicates the genus and the second term indicates the species of the organism.”


 Latin noun is used to name a genus of plants. It indicates the medicinal property or the characteristic of the plant.

The genus is also written, taking into consideration the name of the person who discovered it and the name of God.


 A characteristic specific to the particular species decide the species name of the plant. It also comes from the native place of the plant’s origin, or after a person discovers it.

 Species name also comes from another genus that has similar characteristics in that particular plant species. Scientific Names of Common Plants

Binomial Nomenclature is also known as Binary Nomenclature. This two-term naming system can also use some other different languages to create such scientific names. These scientific names are unique and help in identifying organisms anywhere in the world. Let us learn more about the system of Nomenclature.

The Binomial Nomenclature system is a formal system of naming that was introduced by the scientist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758. He is regarded as the founder of modern taxonomy. His books are considered as the beginning of modern biological nomenclature. They outlined the rules for allocating names to plants and animals in a certain format.

Carl Linnaeus - BotanyLive
Carl Linnaeus – BotanyLive

Carl Linnaeus

System and Rules Binomial Nomenclature

All living species including plants, animals, birds, and also some microbes have their own scientific names. In this system, there are certain rules that are followed while naming organisms. This standard set of rules is applicable to plants and animals while giving them unique names within a given system.

According to this system, each organism is known by two names – the Genus name and the species name. These names are all written in Latin. The genus name and species name of an organism written together are called its scientific name. Some rules that are followed while writing these names are mentioned hereunder.

  • The name of the genus always begins with a capital letter.
  • The species name begins with a small letter.
  • The scientific names are always italicized.
  • When handwritten, the genus name and species name have to be underlined.
  • When applying the binomial nomenclature system, the name of the species is written in italics or enclosed within the quotation marks (” “).
  • The genus may also be written by abbreviating it to its initial letter. For instance, based on the previous example, Yucca filamentosa abbreviated to Y. filamentosa.
  • Two taxa cannot have the same name

Example of names with the system of Binomial Nomenclature

A few examples of names of organisms written in this system

Why is Binomial Nomenclature Important?

As stated previously, there are millions of species of organisms distributed throughout the world. Furthermore, the same organisms are known by different names around the world and this can cause confusion when trying to identify or classify. Hence, binomial nomenclature was seen as a viable solution to this problem.

There are advantages in using a standard and scientific way of naming organisms. These names are unique and widely accepted throughout the world. The nomenclature system is also guided by the rules laid down in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).

  • International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) – Deals with the biological nomenclature of plants.
  • International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) – Deals with the biological nomenclature of animals.

Drawbacks of Binomial Nomenclature

Some of the basic drawbacks of binomial nomenclature are:

  • If two or more names are currently in use, according to the law of priority, the correct name will be the one used first and the others end up being synonyms as validity is the senior synonym. Providing stability in the naming and classification of organisms must be emphasized.
  • Also, the names used prior to those included in the “Systema Naturae”, by Linnaeus are not recognized.

Some More Examples from daily life

Below is a list of some examples of familiar but common names and their binomial names:

  1. Apple – Pyrus maleus
  2. Banana – Musa paradiscium
  3. Carrot – Daucas carota
  4. Cat – Felis catus
  5. Dog – Cannis familiaris
  6. Human – Homo sapiens
  7. Lemon – Citrus limonium
  8. Maize – Zea mays
  9. Onion – Allium cepa
  10. Orange – Citrus aurantium
  11. Pineapple – Ananus sativus
  12. Potato – Solanium tuberosum
  13. Watermelon – Citrullus vulgaris
  14. Wheat – Triticum aestivum

Essential Requisites of Binomial Nomenclature

There are three most important requisites which should be in mind before giving any name to a taxon.

1. Uniqueness

The scientific name should be unique and individual. It must be the only name within that nomenclature.

 2. Universally

The scientific name should be universal and acceptable throughout the world and biological societies. Ordinary names cannot be used in nomenclature b/c it is very difficult for taxonomists to learn the names of taxa in ordinary language.

3. Stability

The scientific name should be stable and authentic and cannot be changeable. The scientific name is the key to information about a particular organism, therefore even the principle of priority can be set aside by the international commission.

For more topics related to life sciences, see the links below;

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