Plant Names Decoded from Latin to Gardener

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I am one of those new gardeners whose eyes squint in panic whenever a Latin plant name comes into view. My brain shuts down and my fingers itch to dig something up.

Echeveria shaviana

Echeveria shaviana in bloom
or is this Cousin Bob?

Latin Plant Names Deciphered

Thankfully there are people like Melody Rose, whose article on the topic of Latin plant names deciphers the mystery and sheds some much needed light on the subject.

Even though Latin is used around the world for scientific names and having a basic understanding isn’t all that difficult, many gardeners’ eyes tend to glaze over when Latin terms are mentioned. Without this universally accepted system, scientists wouldn’t be able to communicate and even your local garden center would have confusing situations. Read the rest here.

In the spirit of Ms. Rose’s contribution, I’m going through my garden and done my level best to determine the Latin plant name of every green thing I can find.Except weeds. The Latin plant name for weeds should be Weedus pullem, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

Plant Name Sources

Part of the problem of providing Latin plant names is that some seed packets don’t include them. For instance, there’s nothing Latin on this packet of onion seeds.  Luckily a right-click on the word ONION here comes up with Allium cepa.

(I use Safari on Mac. If you want something similar in FireFox, I believe you can install a dictionary add-on. I tried one called Life Sciences Dictionary Tool 1.0.12041100, but it gives results in Japanese, I think. I’d need a dictionary to translate the dictionary!)

Bottom Line

Latin plant names aren’t for everyone, apparently. I am tempted to call a nurseryman who’s been in business over 30 years and ask him if he has any Cycas furfuracea (cardboard palm seeds as labeled from an online source). But I’m afraid he’ll probably tell me no, but that he has plenty of Zamia furfuracea (the CORRECT name for cardboard palm).

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