Flora and Fauna

The founder of binomial nomenclature, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), is responsible for the way the terms flora and fauna have come to mean all the plants or animals of a place or an epoch.

Linnaeus used the terms in the titles of two companion works, Flora Suecica (1745) and Fauna Suecica (1746). Suecica and Suecicus are Latinized versions of Sweden and Swedish. Flora Suecica can be translated as Plants of Sweden and Fauna Suecica as Animals of Sweden.

Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers. Fauna was the sister of Faunus, a Roman woodland deity.

Bonus: Since I used the expression “founder of binomial nomenclature” to identify Linnaeus, I’d better offer an explanation.

binomial nomenclature: the two-part system of naming plants and animals (bi=two; nomen=name).

Under this system each plant and animal is given two names to identify it: the genus name and the species name.

As to be expected, Linnaeus’s original system has been adapted and expanded in the course of 200 years, but generally speaking, every plant and animal can be identified by a scientific name having two parts. For example, the scientific name for human beings is Homo sapiens; for cats, Felis catus; horses, Equus caballus; morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea; marigold, Tagetes patula, and dandelion, Taraxacum officinale.

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