Family

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The heirachy of biological classification's eight major taxonomic ranks. Intermediate minor rankings are not shown.

In biological classification, family is:

  • a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the prefix sub-: subfamily.
  • a taxonomic unit, a taxon, in that rank. In that case the plural is families (Latin familiae)

Example: Basil and lemon balm belong to the Mint family.

What does and does not belong to each family is determined by a taxonomist. Similarly for the question if a particular family should be recognized at all. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists each taking a different position. There are no hard rules that a taxonomist needs to follow in describing or recognizing a family. Some taxa are accepted almost universally, while others are recognised only rarely.

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