Plant labels

Information about each plant in the four Gardens is stored in BG-BASE(c), a computerised database. Each entry provides details of the plant, including scientific name(s), common names, when and by whom it was collected, geographical distribution in the wild, and its precise location in the Garden along with any historical information.

Supplementary biological notes on cultivation, flowering and fruiting, growth habit, and any diseases sustained, as well as scientific data such as chromosome complement and anatomical structure, can also be included. Where photographic records have been made these may be noted and the images themselves captured and stored as part of the database.

An RBGE Plant Label Such accurate documentation of the plants grown is at the heart of the work of the Botanic Garden; it is essential for efficient management of the living collections and for the success of research and conservation programmes.

Accurate labelling of all the plants is an essential feature of a botanic garden. The black and white labels summarise key facts about the specimen.

So why don't we used common names on our labels?

Common names have always been given to plants, but are often locally specific. Hyacinthoides non-scripta, the western European bluebell, has at least 20 other common names in the UK. The same common name can also be used for different plants, 'bluebell' is the common name for at least 15 unrelated plants around the world.

For this reason in 1753 Carl von Linné, who adopted a Latin name for himself – Linnaeus introduced the Binomial System of naming which gives the Genus and Species of the plant. The use of a single universal scientific name enables everyone to understand one another, whatever their native language.

The downloading the Plant Label Information Sheet will assist in interpreting this information.

Back to Top

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)