Wild plant taxa are assigned a scientific name according to the principles of the nomenclature, which are written in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. The names of cultivated plants and hybrids have their own rules, written in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, which functions as a complement to the above.
The objective of the botanical nomenclature is to have a universal and unambiguous name for each species and for each taxon in general, and possibly for each cultivar and each hybrid.
Crop plants often have a history of hybridization, artificial selection of atypical features, or other processes that provide the need to give them a name of cultivars. The word cultivar is based on a combination of the words "cultivated" and "variety" and the older literature can be seen as "varieties". Cultivars should not be confused with the botanical varieties, which usually represent wild races that occupy defined geographic regions, or morphologically distinct wild populations.
The term "cultivar" is applied to an assembly of cultivated plants which is clearly distinguished by particular characteristics (morphological, physiological, cytological, chemical, etc.). And that through sexual or asexual reproduction, it passes from generation to generation (Brickell, International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, 1980).
The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants is the set of rules governing the naming of cultivars. The names of the cultivars can be given any language except Latin, which is reserved for scientific names, and should be written with initial capital letters. When given the specific name should be written in single quotes. Formerly could be preceded by the abbreviation "cv." But now considers incorrect code. The names of the cultivars can be used after the genus name, after the name of the species, or after the common name of the species. For example, the following are equivalent names that refer to the same cultivar, but only the latter is considered right:
- Citrullus cv. Crimson Sweet
- Watermelon cv. Crimson Sweet
- Citrullus lanatus cv. Crimson Sweet
- Citrullus lanatus 'Crimson Sweet'.