Variety is the botanical term given to a plant that is different in some way, and continues to be different, from its original species but is not different enough for it to be classified as a new or sub-species. A variety remains the same species but will have one or more small differences, for example, different coloured flowers, lack of thorns, variegation or different coloured leaves. These variations come about by natural evolutionary process to which most plants are subject. Different varieties of a species will be able to breed together if given the opportunity. A variety will have three parts to its name, a trinomial, which will include the species name and the variety name. The variety name is shortened to 'var.' Some examples of this use are:
- Acer palmatum var. atropupureum (Purple Japanese maple)
- Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica (Corkbark fir)
- Hosta undulata var. undulata (Plantain lily)
In plant breeding a variety is called a cultivar and it is indicated by the use of capital letters and quote marks as shown in these examples:
- Helleborus foetidus 'Wester Flisk' (Stinking hellebore)
- Fuchsia magellanica 'Riccartoni'
- Dryopteris affinis 'Crispa Congesta' (Buckler fern)
- The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Ed., Christopher Brickell, Dorling Kindersly, London, 1996. ISBN 0751304360.