Many of the trees described in this book, both native and introduced, have common English names, in consequence some explanation is necessary for the prominence given to the less familiar scientific names which are difficult to spell and remember. There are several reasons for adopting this course. Firstly, the common names lack precision. To the casual observer a Birch tree is easily recognizable but in fact we have two native species in Britain. Although closely related, so closely in fact that hybrids occur between them, Ihey are none the less distinct species which must be given separate names. Similar examples could be given for other native trees such as Elms and Oaks.
Further, some species are widespread in North Temperate regions and consequently have many common names in different countries. Also, many trees which have been introduced and grow successfully in this country have no wetl known English names. The advantage of the scientific name is that there is only one for a particular species and this is valid throughout the world. Each species has a generic name followed by a specific epithet, e.g. our two native Birches are Betula pendula and Betula pubescens. Thus the scientific names also indicate relationships, in that closely similar species are included in the same genus. The scientific name is foilowed by the initials or abbreviated name of the botanist who first published a correct description of that particular species. This may appear an unnecessary complication but is essential if confusion is to be avoided, because the same name may have been used for two different species by different authors but, according to the International Rules of Nomenclature, only one of these can be valid.
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