How do you read plant labels at NYBG?


Plant labels carry  quite a bit of information.  For complete information and illustrations, see our guide Understanding Plant Labels at NYBG.


Usually, the following are listed (from top to bottom):


Common name of plant (if it has one) -- Common names can sometimes be confusing as a plant may have more than one and multiple plants can have the same common name; the botanical name is more definitive:


Botanical name  i.e. genus and species -- Sometimes a subspecies name will also be added. See this link for a detailed description of botanical nomenclature.


Cultivar name -- If the plant is a cultivated variety (i.e. developed by a gardener) then this will be indicated in single quotes.  Or the name given to the cultivar by the developer will be given.  If the plant is a hybrid then the name will have an “x” and some indication of the parents of the hybrid.


Family -- The family to which this genus belongs will be listed, usually in capital letters.


Country of origin -- Sometimes the country to which the plant is native to will be given.


Finally, the label may have the date when the specimen was planted.


An example label would be:


Tanyosha or umbrella pine – common name.


Pinus densiflora -  genus and species.


‘Umbraculifera' – cultivar name


PINACEAE – the family to which pines belong.


This label would probably not list the country of origin as it is not the native species.


Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information



  • Last Updated Jun 08, 2023
  • Views 110
  • Answered By Ken Lloyd

FAQ Actions

Was this helpful? 0 0

Contact NYBG Plant Information

Send us an email or fill out the question form below.

Submit a question to our plant experts

Before submitting your question, try searching our Plant and Gardening FAQ page and Help Guides. Still need help? Fill out the form below and a plant expert will answer your individual plant and gardening questions. We will respond to questions in the order we receive them.

Your Question
Your Info

Our system doesn't track which FAQ page you are viewing before you fill out the question form. If you have a specific question related to one of our FAQ entries, please indicate it above so we can better understand your question.

Fields marked with * are required.