Frequently asked questions

What is a scientific name?
The common daisy, Bellis perennis
The common daisy, Bellis perennis

All species of plants have a scientific name in latin which consists of a generic (genus) name and a specific (species) name. For example, the common daisy is Bellis perennis, Bellis is the genus name and perennis is the species name.

Names are given by taxonomists who describe, name and classify organisms – the author of the new species. Each taxonomist specialises in a group of organisms and when they describe new species there are several conventions to follow. New species names are often given for some geographical or morphological purpose but it is also very common to honour collectors, fellow botanists or people who have provided assistance with the research. Your financial assistance in the research will be the rationale for you choosing the new specific name.

What sort of name can I choose?

You can choose absolutely anything but it should be appropriate and follow certain rules and we will advise on this. When naming plants after a person, for example, it depends on the sex of the person and also the number of person(s), i.e., -i for a man, -ae for a woman, – arum for two or more women, and -orum for two or more men or persons with both sexes represented. For example, some simple examples include Chaenactis parishii (named after Samuel Parish), Lasthenia ferrisiae (named after Roxana Ferris), and Ceanothus hearstiorum (named after the Hearst family).

How does a new scientific name become accepted?

New species are described by a professional taxonomist. They compare the ‘novel’ species to all other previously described species and make the recommendation it should be described as a species new to science. The taxonomist writes up a detailed morphological description, maps its distribution and other notes on any reported uses or interesting information that are available. This information, combined with detailed photos or a botanical illustration, is written as a scientific paper and submitted to a scientific journal where it is peer-reviewed and then published. Once the name has been published then the name has been accepted.

Are selling new species names good for science?

In the distant past it was very common for naturalists to name new species after people who help fund their trips to distant, often tropical lands, such as Alfred Russell Wallace. However, during the last 100 years an era of colonial floras emerged and this became less common. Today taxonomy is severely underfunded particularly in smaller, often productive, organisations. In addition, there are numerous costs for describing a new species. These include travel costs to visit research collections (to be able compare a good proportion of specimens), costs for a professional botanical drawing to be commissioned and publication costs. If an appropriate name is chosen and a good reputable taxonomist is describing the new species, then increased financial assistance can only be a good thing because it helps speed up documenting biodiversity before many species could become extinct and aids in their possible conservation. We will not be selling all the new species that we encounter only a few to financially enable us to document and describe them all.

What do I get for my financial support?

Your financial support will go towards our ongoing research and conservation efforts and you will be acknowledged in publications resulting from your support. The name you choose will exist forever in all scientific literature. You will receive a black and white line drawing of your new species. You will also receive a copy of the the publication where your new species is accepted.

How long will it take for my new species to be published and accepted?

Many of our new species have already been discovered and are awaiting a name and illustration so the process has already begun. However, the peer-review publication process can often take 3-5 months minimum. You will constantly be kept informed of the publication progress.

After buying what happens next?

After payment has been received we will contact you and send a selection of the dozens of new species we have to describe and publish. You will choose the new species you want. You will send a selection of name ideas you would like and one of our taxonomists will suggest and advise what is possible. The illustrations will be commissioned and you will be kept informed through the entire process.

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