I came across a species name that contains "x" in its name, namely Miscanthus × giganteus. What does this symbol stand for and is it commonly used in taxonomic nomenclature?


1 Answer 1


It means that the plant is a hybrid. Having it in the middle means that it is between species of the same genus, else the × (it's not the letter x but the multiplication symbol ×) would have been in front.

It is very commonly used in taxonomic nomenclature, namely every time you have a hybrid. This means you'll usually see it with plants, as animals very rarely interbreed.

Wikipedia says that your plant is a hybrid from Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus sacchariflorus. It is an easy place to look up most hybrids you might encounter.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, would be rather hard to eat due high cellulose content, but it is one of the promising spices for 2nd generation biofuels production. $\endgroup$
    – Klara
    Jan 16, 2015 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ Lemongras is also a tough gras, but still used as a spice, sometimes even eaten, cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/53671/…. I don't know why you'd look at spices when you choose biofuel sources though. $\endgroup$
    – rumtscho
    Jan 16, 2015 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ I'm working in research where we develop cellulase activity assays - the cheap, fast and quantitative ways to say what mixtures of enzymes will produce most glucose from lignocellulotic biomass in industrial context. Miscanthus is the sample we got from other research group and I got curious what the symbols in the name means. In general finding a good energy crops for 2nd generation biofuels is an active and well founded research field [C. Somerville, H. Youngs, C. Taylor, S. C. Davis, S. P. Long, Science 2010, 329, 790–792.] [J. Wang, J. Xi, Y. Wang, Green Chem. 2015] $\endgroup$
    – Klara
    Jan 16, 2015 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ I think Klara is talking about a species name, not a spice's name. $\endgroup$
    – senderle
    Jan 16, 2015 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ It is very commonly used in taxonomic nomenclature, namely every time you have a hybrid. I second that, and I think I had better give an example everyone knows about: the beautiful Iris, especially the German one, Iris germanica L.. Dykes' taxonomy is most widely used these days, not seeing the plants as a "wild species" (as Linnaeus partly did) but as hybrids, e. g. Iris × germanica var. florentina' (L.) (Dykes) The × is particularly common with this very kind of flower. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2015 at 15:33

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