One of the most important goals of plant taxonomy is to develop a uniform, practical, and stable system of naming plants—one that can be used by both taxonomists and others needing a way to communicate information about plants. The internationally accepted system of giving scientific names to plants is set forth in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Greuter et al. 1994), often referred to simply as the Code.
Why then do names keep changing? Names of plants are changed for three main reasons:
In order to minimize the impact of nomenclatural changes on users of this book, we have typically given taxonomic synonyms (particularly commonly used ones) for those species whose names have changed in the recent past. Such synonyms can be found in brackets, [ ], near the end of the species treatments and can be reached using the index.
This writeup was modified from one written by B. Ertter (pers. comm.).