Epithet

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Within botanical taxonomy an epithet refers to the taxa following either the genus or species.

 

A specific epithet refers to the second part of the botanical name of a plant, known as species. It follows the first part of the botanical name, known as genus. An infraspecific epithet refers to any subtaxa below species. An epithet (plural: epithets) adds specific information to what might otherwise be construed as a generic name or information.

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Examples

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Persea americana 'Hass' (Hass Avocado) - Hass, which is the name of the cultivar, is the infraspecific epithet. Hass avocado has thick, knobbly skin which turns a very dark shade of green to almost black when ripe. The flesh is a buttery, pale green.

Theobroma cacao (Cacao) - Theobroma is the genus or generic name, whilst cacao is the species or specific epithet.

 

Outside of Botany

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An epithet is a byname (word or phrase). It can be descriptive, characterising, or a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a living or non-living thing. William The Conqueror is one of the epithets for William I of England. The Scottish Play is an epithet (descriptive substitute) for Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth'. 

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Botanical Terms and Taxa mentioned

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Below are links to The Hungry Child's internal database on the terms and taxa that were used in this article, or might be useful alongside it. If you feel that something is missing or unclear, leave a comment or send me an email.

Genus (genera| cultivar

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More on Taxonomy

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