The plant used to be called Rosmarinus officinalis but will now be called Salvia rosmarinus. Its common name of rosemary stays the same.
Rosemary and salvias have been classified as two entirely separate genera since the plant naming system began in 1753. The stamens of the plants were deemed to be similar but not enough to warrant identifying them as one plant type. That decision has now been changed and will be reflected in the next edition of the RHS Plant Finder.
John David, Head of Horticultural Taxonomy at the RHS said that gardeners would be surprised to learn that rosemary is so closely related to Salvia officinalis, or culinary sage. He added: “It is important that our naming system reflects the latest science otherwise it stands to lose its meaning.
“Understanding plant interactions and therefore their uses, which is reflected in the scientific name they carry, could inspire more people to grow for people and planet. We’re certainly not meddling for meddling’s sake by adopting this name change but reflecting the latest research that could help us in conserving our gardens for the future.”