This one is for Plant Classification, Structure and Function from June 2018:
Q1a) State FOUR limitations of using common names compared with botanical names for plants.[4 marks]
b) State what is meant by EACH of the following terms:
i) species; [2 marks]
ii) cultivar [2 marks]
c) Name TWO distinct plant cultivars. [2 marks]
This question relates to the following part of the syllabus:
1.2 Understand botanical and horticultural plant names.
State the reasons why botanical plant names are important. Stability, uniqueness,
internationally understood, confusion over common names allows plant identification and
Describe the binomial system of naming plants. State the meaning of the terms ‘genus’ and
‘species’ and state how they are written, with reference to THREE plant examples.
Describe the naming of cultivated plants. State the meaning of the term cultivar and state
how it is written with reference to three plant examples.
Part a) asks for four limitations, so it is useful to either use bullet points or number your answers to
clearly show four distinct answers.
The syllabus includes the reasons for botanical names and this is asking the question in a slightly
different way. The examiners’ comments state that ‘Candidates who gave the benefits of using
botanical names rather than the limitations of common names were awarded marks as long as the
comparison was clear’.
The examiners’ comments state that the best answers were those that included four distinct
limitations and these were awarded full marks. Examples of suitable answers were:
Common names are not universally recognised
Common names may be in a different language
Common names do not show relatedness between plants
Plants may not have a common name
The same plant may have several common names
Many plants may have the same common name
It can be seen from these answers that a sentence is needed for each point, elaborating on some of
the points in the syllabus.
Part b) relates directly to the syllabus wording. Suitable answers were suggested as:
i) Species is a group of plants within a genus whose individuals have characteristics in
common and can interbreed with each other.
ii) A cultivar is a variation of, or a sub-group within a species, which is selected or
created by people/plant breeders. It then has to be maintained in cultivation, often
by vegetative propagation or by continuous selection. It is a cultivated variety.
As two marks are awarded for each part, sufficient information is needed for full marks, so always
look at the number of marks as a guide to the amount of detail required.
Part c) requires two plant names. Make sure you give a full botanical name and not just the cultivar
part. The examiners’ comments gave suitable examples as:
Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’
Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’
Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’
It’s a good idea to learn plant examples that you find both easier to remember and to spell.
The examiners’ comments also point out that you should avoid plants where trade designations are
used more commonly than the cultivar name. Trade designations are in the level 3 syllabus, but are
selling names for the plant rather than the registered cultivar name. A cultivar name will always be
in quotation marks. Roses very often have trade designations and the examiners’ comments give the
example of Rosa Darcy Bussell, which is a trade designation, the cultivar name being Rosa
When you are learning examples of cultivars you can check the name on the RHS website or look it
up in a copy of the RHS Plant Finder to check you have suitable and correct examples.