Botany and religion agree on Latin

Botanical Congress, Media releases
  • What is acacia?
  • No plants…no humanity – call for action
  • And other stories from the XVIII International Botanical Congress

Over 2,000 plant scientists from 73 nations adopted a series of motions at the conclusion of the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne on Saturday, 30 July.

Full details at the links below.

Botany drops Latin

In 1539 the Church of England recognised Latin was a barrier to understanding, and published the Great Bible in English. The Roman Catholic Church authorised usage of languages other than Latin in its services in the 1960s. Now scientists—or at least botanists—are catching up.

By next year the technical descriptions accompanying the scientific names for new plant species will no longer have to be exclusively in Latin. English will be acceptable. And botanists proposing new species will no longer be required to publish a paper in hard copy—an electronic version will do. Latin, however, will still be used for the two-word, scientific species names. These and other nomenclature changes are listed at and the media release is at

What is acacia?

A long debate about the naming of acacias was resolved.  Acacias are found in Africa, Australia and South America and until now they were regarded as one genus. Modern plant biology has shown that they are not. As a result the Congress agreed that African acacias (the first described by science) will be now be given a new genus. Australia has thousands of acacia species including its national floral emblem, wattle. These Australian trees will retain the genus name Acacia.

No humanity without plants

As many as two-thirds of the world’s 350,000 plant species are in danger of extinction in nature during the course of the 21st Century. Humans depend on plants for almost every aspect of life. The Congress called for:

  • An updated global strategy for plant conservation by the UN Convention at its Nagoya meeting in October
  • Urged adoption of the Nagoya Protocol
  • Called for a series of actions to build scientific and botanic expertise and research especially in developing countries

Full recommendations at

Shenzen in 2017

The XIX Congress will be held in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China on July 23-29, 2017, under the auspices of the Botanical Society of China and the City of Shenzhen, with the endorsement of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Other stories from the Congress included:

  • Cellulose: from paper planes to powering jet planes: 30% of US transport fuelled by plants by 2030
  • Australia’s wheat crop looks to have been saved from a devastating infestation of rust—for now.
  • Protecting the potato from late blight
  • 50 million seeds a kilometre – can we win the war on willow
  • Snap a leaf on your iPhone
  • How cotton was born: a million year-old mating opens up an improved future
  • Fighting famine with botany – strigolactones and the African witchweed
  • Could we grow drugs using sunflowers?
  • How can we feed 9.5 billion people?
  • How will climate change wine?
  • The first flowers – revealed by synchrotron light

Read the full releases online at

For more information:  call Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977,
or AJ Epstein on 0433 339 141 or email

Congress media pages: