Posts Tagged ‘plant names’

What’s in a Name? Moments in Time

'SunnySmile'--a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)--with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and 'Sweet Caroline Bronze' sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Sunny Smile’–a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)–with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

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 garden simply by looking at its name. Continue reading

What’s in a Name? Let’s Get Animal

Erythronium dens-canis

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 epithets refer to plant traits that resemble the shapes, markings, or parts of particular animals. In other cases, the connections are tenuous at best, perhaps existing only in the mind of the person that chose the epithet in the first place. Even if you don’t know why a plant has an animal-related botanical name, it may at least help you remember the connection between its botanical and common names.

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

Asclepias speciosa at Hayefield

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 descriptors, along the lines of of really pretty, desperately dull, and utterly ordinary. Continue reading

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

Brassica oleracea ‘Ruby Ball’ (cabbage)
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 botanical names can often clue us in to plants that have some practical use, or at least some benefit besides being beautiful.

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What’s in a Name? Through the Rainbow Part II

Tradescantia zebrina
Tradescantia zebrina

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

I warned you that there were a whole lot of color-related specific epithets, didn’t I? You can find the previous color-name posts at Black, White, and Shades of Gray and Through the Rainbow Part I. And now, the conclusion.

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What’s in a Name? Through the Rainbow Part I

Verbena hastata 'Rosea'
Verbena hastata ‘Rosea’

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Ok, all (ten) of you who find this stuff interesting, it’s time for more fun with botanical nomenclature. Now that White, Black, and Shades of Gray are out of the way, let’s move on to the names of more exciting colors.

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What’s in a Name? White, Black, and Shades of Gray

Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila f. alba
Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila f. alba

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

When I decided to write a series of posts exploring the meanings behind many botanical names, I knew right away which batch I wanted to investigate first: names that relate to colors. There are so many that I ended up breaking into it two parts. First up, white to black and the tones in between.

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