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Plant Nomenclature - A simple guide to Bi-species and Bi-generic hybrids.

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

In this brief article, we look at the a particular aspect of Nomenclature (the naming of plants). Here we consider Bi-specific/Bi-species and Bi-generic/Bi-genera hybrids. These less common plants that are hybrids either of two species from the same genus, or two genus from the same family bred either purposefully, or by chance to produce something new.

Bi–species Hybrid

When we breed two different species from the same Genus, we create a new species known as a bi-species/bi-specific/interspecies/interspecific hybrid. This need not necessarily apply exclusively to plants that are purposely bred, but many new species are created by chance and promiscuity in the wild.

When Photinia glabra was bred with Photinia serratifolia, Photinia x fraseri was born. The (x) before fraseri indicates that two species of Photinia were bred together.

Photinia breeding to create a new species

From that, cultivars, varieties, forms and clones can be found or bred into the species and their differences may warrant giving them names as new varieties, e.g. Photinia x fraseri ‘Birmingham’, Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ and Photinia x fraseri ‘Robusta’.

Photinia x fraseri, Photinia x fraseri 'Birmingham' and Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'

A few other examples of bi-species hybrids include, Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Aster x frikartii, Clematis x triternata, Abelia x grandiflora and Forsythia x intermedia.

Abelia x grandiflora, Elaeagnus x ebbingei and Aster x frikartii 'Monch'

Bi–generic Hybrid

When we breed two different Genus from the same family, we create a new Genus known as a bi-generic/intergeneric/intergenus hybrid. This need not necessarily apply exclusively to plants that are purposely bred, but some new Genus are created by chance and promiscuity in the wild.

When a member of the Genus Hedera (Ivy) is bred with a member of the genus Fatsia (False Castor Oil Plant), a new Genus is created called x Fatshedera. Naturally x Fatshedera bares many similarities with both of its parent plant Genus.

The reason we can breed the two Genus of Fatsia and Hedera together is because they are closely related and categorised in the same family group; in this case the family group is called Araliaceae. The (x) before Fatshedera indicates that two Genus of the same family were bred together.

Once again, new species, cultivars, forms, clones and varieties can be bred and found, creating all new plants which will be named appropriately.

Hedera and Fatsia breeding to create a new Genus

Hedera hibernica, Fatsia japonica and their progeny x Fatshedera lizei (cultivar 'Annemeike' pictured)

Other examples of bi-generic hybrids include, x Cupressocyparis leylandii (in fairly regular debate of its correct name), x Mahoberberis, x Solidaster, x Halimiocistus, and x Heucherella

x Halimiocistus wintonensis 'Merrist Wood Cream', x Cupressocyparis leylandii (Syn. x Cuprocyparis) and x Solidaster luteus 'Lemore'

One of the most useful books I own! A guide to the meanings of Botanical Latin. Really easy to navigate and something for everyone.

Here is another good guide to the meaning of plant names.

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