Whether one picks up a book or catalogue containing any wide variety of plants, they are listed under their Botanic or Latin names. This may be dispiriting or tedious for some, but not for those who, from love or experience of plants realise and accept that only by the use of such names —internationally known and accepted, could they possibly make sense. The question as to why such names have to be used is often asked by some who find them difficult, and as a preface I will attempt a brief answer.
Plants, no matter what they are, have to carry a first and second name at least, to simplify, identification and reference. The first name indicates the genus, and the second the species. Take Campanula as an easy example. This comes from the Latin for ‘Bell’, and indeed the common name is Bellflower. But there are in nature hundreds of species of Bellflowers or Campanulas, as well as varieties or cultivars which have been raised by human agency as hybrids or crosses between the species. It would be much more confusing to use English or colloqual to describe them, for Campanula lactiflora would then become the ‘milky-flowered Bellflower’—plus the name of the variety. C. glomerata nana lilacina, would need the ‘flowered dwarf clustered Bell-flower’ to describe it—and these are only simple examples. Others would be quite impossible to anglicise.
All names have an explanation or meaning, though the origin of some generic or surnames are lost in antiquity. Some are Greek, others Latin or Latinised versions of a Common name. There is no need to delve deeply into origins, but many specific names give a clue to description. Those ending in ‘oides’ mean that it has resemblance to some other plant, such as ‘primuloides’. Others give the colour—’aureum’ for gold, ‘album’ for white, ‘roseum’ pink, ‘rubrum’ red and so on. ‘Latifolia’ means it has a broad, ‘macrantha’ a large flower in Greek, though ‘grandi-flora’ is the same thing in Latin. Where a name ends in ii or iana it is a personal tribute to some-person just as a surname like Rudbeck or Stokes are Latinised as generic names in Rudbeckia and Stokesia as a means of giving a name to a plant which had no higher claims.
Very many specific names give the place of origin—whether a country like Japan—japonica and canadensis, or an ancient State-like macedonica or tyrolensis, whilst others simply state that it grows wild in mountains montana, alpina or in woods sylvatica or in a damp place iacus-tris, palustris or uliginosa .
Once you get the hang of names, they can surprisingly enough become a source of interest in themselves. You can pick and choose, as it were, without bothering about those that have baffling connotations and derivations unless you wish. It is all a matter of not being afraid of them, of realising their importance and that most of them have purposeful meanings. No one uses any other name than, Nasturtium or , and there are many other examples of Botanic names being accepted by everyone without a second thought. This shows how even difficult names develop in the mind and become accepted as commonplace in themselves simply through common usage.
Plants For Special Purposes
|PLANTS FOR GROUND COVER||PLANTS FOR MOISTURE AND WATERSIDE||PLANTS FOR DRY SHADE||PLANTS FOR FLORAL ARRANGEMENT|
|Alchemilla mollis||Aruncus Sylvester||Acanthus spinosus||Acanthus in variety|
|Bergenia in variety||Astrantia in variety||Alchemilla mollis||in variety|
|Chiysogonum virginianum||Astilbe in variety||Anaphalis in variety||Agapanthus in variety|
|Epimedium in variety||Caltha in variety||Brunnera macrophylla||Alchemilla mollis|
|Lamium in variety||Gentiana asclepiadea||Campanula muralis||Anaphalis in variety|
|mussinii||Filipendula in variety||Epimedium in variety||Ligtu hybrids|
|Prunella in variety||sibirica in variety||Euphorbia some varieties||Astrantia in variety|
|Pulmonaria in variety||kaempferi||Geranium in variety||caerulea|
|Stachys lanata||Lythrum in variety||Hylomecon japonicum||maximum in variety|
|Symphytum rubrum||Monarda in variety||Iris foetidissima||Crocosmia masonorum|
|Vinca in variety||Polygonum in variety||Lamium in variety||in variety|
|Avena Candida||Rodgersia in variety||Liriope||Doronicum in variety|
|Festua glauca||in variety||Omphalodes in variety||in variety|
|Trollius in variety||Pachysandra terminalis||Echinops ritro|
|Polygonatum in variety||Eryngium in variety|
|Polygonum affine in variety||in variety|
|Pulmonaria in variety||Gypsophila in variety|
|Stachys lanata||in variety|
|Tiarella in variety||Hosta in variety|
|Vinca in variety||in variety|
|Macleaya in variety|
|Polygonum bistorta superbum|
|Rodgersia in variety|
Above: Colour contrasts can be made with both foliage andwith Hosta sieboldiana elegans behind Stachys macrantha.