En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
6 ratings

Wednesday - August 11, 2010

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: What does spp. stand for in Paspalum spp? From Arlington, TX.
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

What does the spp stand for when talking about Paspalum spp?

ANSWER:

A botanical name is a type of term known as a binomial.  That is, there are two parts to it, a genus name and a specific epithet.

The first word in the botanical name of a plant is the genus name, in this case, Paspalum. The second word is the specific epithet.  The second name is not called the species name since the name of the species is actually the genus and specific name in combination - the binomial.  Some genera have many species and even sub-species, some have only one. There are between 300 and 400 species of Paspalum worldwide, about 25 or so native to North America and there are 7 species listed in our Native Plant Database:

Paspalum distichum (knotgrass)

Paspalum floridanum (Florida paspalum)

Paspalum langei (rustyseed paspalum)

Paspalum monostachyum (gulfdune paspalum)

Paspalum notatum var. notatum (bahiagrass)

Paspalum plicatulum (brownseed paspalum)

Paspalum setaceum (thin paspalum)

The word in parentheses after the species name is one of the common names of that species and is not part of the species name.

The abbreviation, spp, is botanical shorthand for multiple species.  So, if you see "Paspalum spp." it means that the reference is for more than one Paspalum species.  A similar and likely more familiar shorthand is the abbreviation, p, for page and, pp, for pages.

You will notice that only the genus name, specific epithet and, if present, any sub-specific epithets in a botanical name are italicized.  Other parts of a scientific name such as, sp (species), spp (multiple species), var (botanical variety - should not be confused with cultivated variety or cultivar), ssp (subspecies). and authors' citations are never italicized.  An author's citation is a standardized abbreviation of the name of the person(s) who published the botanical name.  In proper scientific notation, authors' citations are always included in the scientific name.  In the interest of brevity and clarity, authors' citations are often omitted in informal writing.

 

More General Botany Questions

Are Chickasaw plums evergreen?
August 13, 2014 - Are Chickasaw Plums evergreens? I've been very interested in planting a few but some websites say they are evergreens while others say the opposite. Furthermore, would I have to plant a male and fema...
view the full question and answer

Is it safe to eat vegetables grown in the same bed as foxgloves?
August 12, 2012 - I have foxglove in my flower beds and have planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and cantaloupe in the flower bed and now I am concerned about the shared root system. Also, my tomatoes are touching the...
view the full question and answer

Phytoremediation Plant List for St. Louis MO
April 19, 2012 - My goal is to transform urban blight plots (some up to 1/4 acre) into viable community gardens having healthy, living soil as their foundation. To this end I am researching phytoremediation (thanks...
view the full question and answer

Changing the pH of the soil
January 16, 2012 - Hi, We have a job that has mostly Texas native plants on it. The architect is wanting to drop the pH levels of the soils to acidic levels that we don't feel is good for the plants and the area. ...
view the full question and answer

Water-saving strategies of drought-tolerant plants
April 04, 2014 - Although "drought tolerant" plants are fairly well documented, it's clear that many different strategies are responsible, such as a huge root system (like Mesquite). I'm interested in learning the...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center