Monday, August 30, 2010

Those wacky plant names

Back when I was in hort school,  I knew the names of thousands of plants and it was the full on Latin name, genus, species and variety/hybrid.  Latin names were used exclusively in school I guess to make us feel like scientists instead of people who want to make their living playing in the dirt.  Sometimes the Latin name can actual be helpful as it describes some part of the plant.  Any species that has cordifolia in it has a heart shaped leaf, spicata has a spike shaped flower. It all kind of starts to make sense. Then when the ID classes come along, you've got to learn the common names too, with the assumption that your clients or even nursery employees may not know what your talking about.  All together it's a lot to learn and required a lot of flash cards for me.  The Nick Hornby fan in me can't resist a few top 5 lists of the best and worst.

Top 5 best plant names of all time

1. Kiss me over the garden gate (Polygonum orientale)
2. Hens and Chicks live forever (Sempervivum)
3. Love in a mist (Nigella)
4. Beauty Berry (Callicarpa)
5. Sweet Woodruff (Galium)

Top 5 worst
1. Pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia)
2. Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)
3. Stinking Rose (Helleborus foetidus)
4. Corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum)- not to mention what the Latin name means
5. Love lies bleeding (Amaranthus)

For you Harry Potter fans....
1. Buggleweed (Ajuga reptans)
2. Lungwort (Pulmonaria)
3 Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
4. Snakeroot (Actaea racemosa)
5. Mandrake (just kidding)

(and this is an ornamental onion, or Allium)

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