Living organisms must be known by the same name all over the world. This process of naming is known as nomenclature. However, to name an organism, we need to know its correct description.This is known as identification. To make the process of identification easier, scientists have assigned scientific names to every known organism. The scientific names for plants are based on the principles and criteria given in the International Code for Botanical Nomenclature or ICBN and for animals in the International Code for Zoological Nomenclature or ICZN.
The scientific names have two components, the generic name and the specific epithet. The scientific name of the peepal tree is Ficus religiosa. Here, Ficus represents the generic name, while religiosa denotes the specific epithet. This system of representing a name with two components is called Binomial nomenclature and was devised by Carolus Linnaeus, also known as the father of modern taxonomy.
The scientific names are generally in Latin, irrespective of the origin of the organism. Also, when a scientific name is hand written, both the words in the name are underlined separately, whereas when printed, it is in italics to indicate its Latin origin. Finally, the first word of the genus starts with a capital letter and the specific epithet starts with a small letter. The process of grouping anything into convenient categories, based on easily observable characters is known as classification. Each group, namely, plants, animals, roses, flowers and dogs are all taxa. However, rose is a flower and a flower is a plant. Therefore a rose, a flower and a plant represent taxa at different levels. This process of classifying living organisms into different taxa, based on their characteristics is called taxonomy.
Systematics is a branch of biology that includes identification, classification, nomenclature as well as evolutionary relationships among organisms.