Category: What's in a Name

What’s in a Name? Moments in Time

As it seemed time for a new adventure in the meaning of botanical names, time itself is a tempting topic. A little familiarity with some of the words you might come across can be handy for predicting how a plant might behave in your…

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What’s in a Name? Body Talk

We’re finally seeing a few signs of the growing season starting here in Pennsylvania, but there are still several more days before spring officially arrives, so I’ll indulge now in one of my favorite winter topics: botanical nomenclature. One subject I haven’t covered yet…

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What’s in a Name? Let’s Get Animal

It’s the season for studying seed catalogs and seed-exchange lists, which always gets me thinking about how fascinating botanical names can be. For this part of my What’s in a Name? series, I’ve collected a bunch of epithets that relate to mammals. Sometimes, these…

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What’s in a Name? The Good, the Bad, and the Ordinary

Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) Ready for another ramble through the wonderful world of botanical nomenclature? This time, let’s look at names that relate to…well, let’s call them value judgments – not specific traits like leaf shape, flower color, or geographic origin, but more subjective…

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What’s in a Name? Where in the World

Asarum europaeum (European wild ginger) with Iris pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’ (white-variegated sweet iris) and Euonymus ‘Frosty Pearl’ (wintercreeper) The yearly arrival of the Chiltern Seeds catalog, with its hundreds of pages filled with tiny type and thousands of intriguing plant names, never fails to…

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What’s in a Name? Whence They Came

Oryza sativa ‘Red Dragon’ Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra Fun, fanciful, or even downright silly, cultivar names often offer some clues as to what a plant might look like. If you want a hint as to where that plant might grow best, though,…

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What’s in a Name? Uses, Flavor, and Fragrance

Brassica oleracea ‘Ruby Ball’ Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra Bright blooms and flashy foliage are features that lure most of us into choosing plants for our gardens. But what about all those hard workers that more than just pretty faces? Looking closely at…

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