Variety (botany)

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This article is about the taxonomic rank in botany. For other uses, see Plant variety.
Not to be confused with the legal term "plant variety", equivalent to the cultivar rank in taxonomy

In botanical nomenclature, variety (abbreviated var.; in Latin: varietas) is a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies but above that of form.[1] As such, it gets a three-part infraspecific name. It is sometimes recommended that the subspecies rank should be used to recognize geographic distinctiveness, whereas the variety rank is appropriate if the taxon is seen throughout the geographic range of the species.[2]


The pincushion cactus, Escobaria vivipara (Nutt.) Buxb., is a wide-ranging variable species occurring from Canada to Mexico, and found throughout New Mexico below about 2,600 metres (8,500 ft). Nine varieties have been described. Where the varieties of the pincushion cactus meet, they intergrade. The variety Escobaria vivipara var. arizonica is from Arizona, while Escobaria vivipara var. neo-mexicana is from New Mexico.


The term is defined in different ways by different authors.[3] A variety will have an appearance distinct from other varieties, but will hybridize freely with those other varieties (if brought into contact).[citation needed]

Other nomenclature uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Article 4". International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants. 2012. 4.1. If a greater number of ranks of taxa is desired, [...a]n organism may thus be assigned to taxa of the following ranks (in descending sequence): [... genus, ... species, subspecies,] variety (varietas), subvariety (subvarietas), form (forma), and subform (subforma). ... 4.3. Further ranks may also be intercalated or added, provided that confusion or error is not thereby introduced. 
  2. ^ "Varieties and forms", HORTAX: Cultivated Plant Taxonomy Group, retrieved 19 July 2016 
  3. ^ Robert T. Clausen (1941). "On The Use Of The Terms "Subspecies" And "Variety"". Rhodora. 43 (509): 157–167.