Family ( la, familia, plural ') is one of the eight major hierarchical
In biological classification, taxonomic rank is the relative level of a group of organisms (a taxon) in a Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic hierarchy. Examples of taxonomic ranks are species, genus, family (biology), family, order (biology), order, ...
Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts:
# the particular form of biological classification
In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying ...
; it is classified between
Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to:
Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness
Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, and the habit of achieving a ...
Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank
In biological classification
In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
. A family may be divided into
In biological classification
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, ...
, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example,
A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''.
A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...
Hickory is a common name for trees
Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science
Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...
trees belong to the family
The Juglandaceae are a plant family known as the walnut family. They are trees, or sometimes shrubs, in the order Fagales. Members of this family are native to the Americas, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia.
The nine or ten genera in the family have a ...
, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".
What belongs to a family—or if a described family should be recognized at all—are proposed and determined by practicing taxonomists. There are no hard rules for describing or recognizing a family, but in plants, they can be characterized on the basis of both vegetative and reproductive feature of plant species. Taxonomists often take different positions about descriptions, and there may be no broad consensus across the scientific community for some time. The publishing of new data and opinions often enables adjustments and consensus.
The naming of families is codified by various international bodies using the following suffixes:
*In fungal, algal, and
Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy
Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such ...
, the family names of plants, fungi, and algae end with the suffix " -aceae
", with the exception of a small number of historic but widely used names including
The family Asteraceae, alternatively Compositae, consists of over 32,000 known species of flowering plant
The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 6 ...
Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family
In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). ...
*In zoological nomenclature, the family names of animals end with the suffix " -idae
The taxonomic term ' was first used by French botanist
Pierre Magnol (8 June 1638 – 21 May 1715) was a French botanist
Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science
Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientif ... in his ' (1689) where he called the seventy-six groups of plants he recognised in his tables families ('). The concept of rank at that time was not yet settled, and in the preface to the ' Magnol spoke of uniting his families into larger ', which is far from how the term is used today.
Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement
Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble social class, class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nob ... used the word ' in his ' (1751) to denote major groups of plants: tree
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...s, herb
In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables
Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is app ...s, fern
A fern (Polypodiopsida or Polypodiophyta ) is a member of a group of vascular plant
Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia art ...s, palms, and so on. He used this term only in the morphological section of the book, discussing the vegetative and generative organs of plants.
Subsequently, in French botanical publications, from Michel Adanson
Michel Adanson (7 April 17273 August 1806) was an 18th-century French botanist and naturalist
Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning mo ...'s ' (1763) and until the end of the 19th century, the word ' was used as a French equivalent of the Latin ' (or ').
Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ..., the family as a rank intermediate between order and genus was introduced by Pierre André Latreille
Pierre André Latreille (29 November 1762 – 6 February 1833) was a French zoologist
Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal ... in his ' (1796). He used families (some of them were not named) in some but not in all his orders of "insects" (which then included all arthropod
An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda,Reference showing that Euarthropoda is a phylum: ...s).
In nineteenth-century works such as the ' of Augustin Pyramus de Candolle
Augustin Pyramus (or Pyrame) de Candolle (, , ; 4 February 17789 September 1841) was a Swiss people, Swiss botany, botanist. René Louiche Desfontaines launched de Candolle's botanical career by recommending him at an herbarium. Within a couple ... and the ' of George Bentham
George Bentham (22 September 1800 – 10 September 1884) was an English botanist, described by the weed botanist Duane Isely as "the premier systematic botanist of the nineteenth century". Born into a distinguished family, he initially studied ... and Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (30 June 1817 – 10 December 1911) was a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British botanist and explorer in the 19th century. He was a founder of geographical botany and Charles Darwin's closest friend ... this word ' was used for what now is given the rank of family.
Families can be used for evolutionary, palaeontological and genetic studies because they are more stable than lower taxonomic levels such as genera and species.
Biology is the natural science
Natural science is a branch of science
Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), o ..., the study of the diversity of living organisms
Cladistics (; ) is an approach to biological classification
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular ..., the classification of organisms by their order of branching in an evolutionary tree
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ..., the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms
Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
* Virus classification
Virus classification is the process of naming viruses and placing them into a Alpha taxonomy, taxonomic system similar to the classification systems used for cell (biology), cellular organisms.
Viruses are classified by phenotypic characteristics, ...
* List of Anuran families
This list of Anuran families shows all extant families
In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other rel ...
* List of Testudines families
* List of fish families
This is a list of fish
Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming the Chordate#Taxonomy, olfactor ...
* List of families of spiders