The naming of plants is bound by certain rules. Guidelines also apply to the naming of plants that are protected under plant variety rights or under trademark law. The name of every plant species basically consists of two parts: the genus name and species name.

A group of plants that is related to each other on the basis of common features. The first word in the plant’s name is the genus name. This is always written with a capital letter.

A group of plants that share the same features within a genus. These species occur in the wild (in nature). The second word in a plant’s name is the species name. This is always written with a small letter.

A group of plants within a species that is always identical. Cultivars always differ from natural species and are grown as seedlings or mutants. This occurs everywhere, also in nature. If this different type is bred, which is necessary in order to preserve the unique features, then this is referred to as a cultivar. To distinguish the cultivar from the species, the breeder will give it a cultivar name. The cultivar name is used specifically for the plant in question. Cultivar stands for ‘cultivated variety’, or is commonly referred to as ‘variety’. The third part of a plant’s name is the cultivar name. Cultivar names are always placed between single quotation marks, and each word begins with a capital (with the exception of adverbs and articles).

Breeders’ rights
If a plant is protected under plant breeders’ rights then the abbreviation PBR (Plant Breeders’ Rights) is placed after the cultivar name. PBR is written in so-called ‘small capitals’ and in ‘superscript’. In practice, the ® sign is used. This is the American symbol for ‘registered trademark’. However, this does not have any legal validity, especially when used to indicate that a plant is protected under plant breeders’ rights. In the United States, plants are patented. In this case the letters PP are placed after the cultivar name, this stands for ‘plant patent’ or ‘patent protected’.

Prunus laurocerasus ‘Ani’ PBR
Prunus is the genus name
laurocerasus is the species name
‘Ani’ is the cultivar name

Trade names and trademarks
In addition to the cultivar name, in some cases the plant is also given a commercial name. If this has been filed with a national or international trademarks offices, then this is referred to as a trademark. If the name has not been filed, but is simply used then this is referred to as the trade name. It is very useful to have a trademark where series of cultivars are concerned. Trademarks are usually written in so-called ‘small capitals’ or in capitals without further additions in the form of ® symbols, etc. The scientific names of trademarks and trade names are written between brackets after the cultivar name. However, for commercial purposes, it is better to write the cultivar name, in slightly smaller letters and between brackets after the trademark or trade name.

Berberis thunbergii ‘MAJA’ PBR (Coral)         Scientifically correct
Berberis thunbergii Coral (‘MAJA’PBR)          Commercially desirable