Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cool Plant Names

I've been studying for the informal final in the native plant stewardship program I've been participating in for the past ten weeks. One part of the exam is recognizing plants and being able to give their scientific name, so that's what I've been studying. We have a list of around 60 plants that the plants will be drawn from - I was already familiar with identifying most of them so mainly I have just been brushing up on the latin.

It helps me remember when I can associate more things with the name, so I've been looking up the meaning of some of the words (There are several good websites around to do that, the one I've been using is Dave's Garden.)

Some of the names are just fun like:

  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Bear grapes, bear-grape - I think these are from two different languages.

  • Pteridium aquilinum - Like a bird wing, eagle like

  • Petasites palmatus - hat like, shaped like the palm of a hand

But what I really like (for memory sake) is when the names correspond to something obvious in the plant:

  • triphylla - three leaves - the species name of our local trillium

  • sanguineum - blood red - the species name for red flowering currant

  • millefolium - thousand leaves - the species name of a local yarrow

And there are parts of the words that show up in a bunch of different scientific names, so are particularly useful to now:

  • parvi - small

  • folium - leaves

  • flora - flowers

  • albi - white

and the list goes on.

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