How Do Flowers Get Their Names?

How Do Flowers Get Their Names?
Pat Nixon: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Did you know that there was a flower called the Pat Nixon Rose?  How do flowers get their names, anyway?  Let's find out!


Students who participate in this activity will learn something about Carolus Linnaeus and his classification system of plants, as well as the origin of both both common and scientific names of flowers.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; pictures of some common flowers; access to print materials about flowers.


1.  Begin the lesson by asking students what their favorite flower is.  Write anwers on the board.

2.  Ask students if they know, or can speculate, how their favorite flowers came to be named.  For example, a lady-slipper looks a bit like a lady's slipper.  Encourage students to brainstorm about the names of common flowers.

3.  Using the websites listed below, have students research the way in which flowers (and other plants) get their names. 

4.  Tell the students, or have them investigate, the story of Carolus Linnaeus:

  • Who was he?
  • Why did he think we needed a plant classification system?
  • Has his system been an effective one?

5.  Have students write short essays on their favorite flowers.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended by having students extend their research to the classification of animals.

Sources & Resources:

Websites: Credits:
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.