Names in common usage are often misleading because they allude to some prominent characteristic of the tree. For example, a very heavy tree may be called “ironwood” ,but there are more than 80 species, of completely different families, all known as ironwood. Hornbeam is one example.Sometimes the common name of a tree is quite simply untrue. Black Italian poplar is not black but white, nor is it Italian – it grows in Britain. Indian Silver graywood likewise is not from India, nor is it silver or gray.Vernacular names are those by which the wood is known in its country of origin, and are naturally in the same language. Trade names are sometimes given to a wood by traders who seek to glamorize an otherwise ordinary species such as ayan by calling it Nigerian satinwood; another example is afara, which is sold as korian in the US.There is also a remarkable difference in the naming of woods between nations in the English-speaking world. In Australia, for example, oak, ash, and elm are entirely different species from those recognized in Europe and the United Sates. For instance, Australian silky oak (Cardwellia sublimes) in not a true oak and is known as lacewood in the US and UK. Another example of differences in nomenclature is Acer pseudoplatanus, which known as maple in the US but sycamore in the UK.
The international code of Botanical Nomenclature is the standardized code of Latin names to enable people who work, study, or play with wood in all parts of the World, whatever their native tongue, to identify a species correctly.The first name is assigned to a genus and the second to a specific epithet to indicate the particular species within the genus. Thus we can see, for example, that parana pine (Araucaria angustifolia) is not a pine at all; it belongs neither to the Pinus genus, nor even to the family (Pinaceae).
Botanically, every tree has a classification from which the generic and specific names are taken, as in the following example of American black walnut: