What is a variety in botany?

Plants have evolved in several different ways depending on the conditions of their habitat. In fact, we can find different varieties of the same species, but what does variety mean when we talk about the plant kingdom?

Although the answer could be very simple, the reality is that sometimes we use this term in the wrong way. So we are going to see what a variety is and what its characteristics are .


  • 1 What is a variety in botany?
  • 2 What is a cultivar?

What is a variety in botany?

Acer palmatum 'Seiryu'

Acer palmatum var. Dissectum

When we talk about variety we refer to a set of plants that, despite having the basic characteristics of the species, have something that differentiates them from it . To understand it better, let’s take the Japanese maple as an example , whose type species, that is, the species that is taken as reference, is the Acer palmatum . This is a deciduous tree that reaches a height between 6 and 10 meters, whose crown is composed of palmate leaves with up to 9 green lobes that turn reddish in autumn.

Starting from this, several varieties have been identified, such as the Acer palmatum var. dissectum which, unlike the type species, has much more divided lobes and reaches a height of up to 3 meters. Therefore, we could say that a variety is something like a natural “accident” that a species has suffered , in this case, Acer palmatum , for living in a slightly different area.

What is a cultivar?

Acer palmatum cv Little Princess

Image – Gardeningexpress.co.uk

A cultivar is something else. It is a group of plants that have been artificially selected to enhance or improve some characteristic that may be of interest . Continuing with the Acer palmatum , today we find several cultivars, such as the Acer palmatum cv ‘Little Princess’ , which is a shrub that reaches approximately 2 meters in height and has yellowish-green palmate leaves with orange-reddish margins.

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What is a variety in botany?

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