Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's all Greek, er Latin, to Us

To those of us who pay attention to the botanical names of plants (which are of course Latin, at least down to the genus and most species names), we are used to this ages old language to refer to plant identities. I've always taken them for granted but in the last few years it dawned on me that certain terms were repeating in species' names and that these had a particular meaning that stayed the same no matter which genus they were attached to. But it wasn't until I saw an abbreviated list of these that the proverbial lightbulb went off. So I thought it might be fun to share some of these with you, with examples to clarify their floral meanings. I'll spread them out over several posts so as not to deluge those with a short attention span for such things. Also, I've posted some new photos of my garden for those who prefer to skip directly to them. Okay, here goes.

"album" or "albus" -- having white flowers. As in Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba,' the white flowering form of the Bower vine.
"arborescens" -- woody or becoming tree-like. As with, Fuchsia arborescens, the nearly tree-like species that is multi-branching and eventually woody.
"aurantiacus" -- having orange flowers. Good examples are Mimulus aurantiacus and Cestrum aurantiacum, both featuring orange flowers.
"barbatus" -- bearded. One example would be Plectranthus barbatus, with its 'fuzzy' leaves.
"caeruleum" or "caeruleus" -- deep blue. Variants of this species name show up with regularity, especially for plants with blue flowers such Passiflora caerulea and Allium careuleum.
"capitatus" -- forming a head. This can be seen in the lovely Gilia capitata, which forms round blue flower heads.
"chrysantha" -- golden flowered. One of my favorites is Edgeworthia chrysantha, having pure golden and very fragrant flowers. Or Aquilegia chrysantha, a columbine with large yellow flowers.
"decumbens" -- trailing but with upright tips. Such as Trillium decumbens, the tall, airy Gomphrena decumbens and an Erigeron species native to Oregon - E. decumbens.
"foetidus" -- foul smelling. That would be Helleborus foetidus. The common name for this Lenten Rose is 'stinking hellebore.' This Latin term yields the English term "fetid."
"frutescens" -- shrub-like. So, no, nothing to do with fruit but referring to the form that a plant takes, as with Teucrium fruticans, which unlike most low growing teucriums forms a six foot high shrub.

Okay, I think everybody's eyes are glazing over by now (including mine). Here are some pretty pictures!

Heavenly Blue morning glory with coleus. Anybody who loves blue HAS to grow this annual morning glory. Huge pure blue flowers just are a sight to behold!

Dug out this nice ceramic half moon planter and decided to put a lovely bronze Sweet Potato vine in it. We'll see if it trails or tries to climb on the window ledge.

I'm a sucker for lilies and Tiger lilies are one of my faves. They tend to be prolific, another endearing quality they possess.

Speaking of orange, here's a closer shot of my Mimulus Jelly Bean Orange plant. Love that color and it's a California native to boot. The sticky part of their common name I get. But Monkey? Hmm ...

Chaenomeles 'Cameo.' So many ornamental quince, so little space. This coral colored cultivar is particularly lovely.

Abelia 'Kaleidoscope.' This variegated, white flowering abelia is a new entry to my garden. I reluctantly dug out a perfectly good spirea to make room for it. It's still low now but when it fills out it should be fab.

I do love clematis, I now have eight of them, but I have a special place in my heart for this C. integrifolia. First of all, vivid purplish-blue flowers! Then there's the nodding habit. This one has finally gotten a toehold and is more floriferous this year.

Clematis viorna seedhead. Another nodding clematis, this one produces seedheads that are a little different than most clematis.

Clethra alnifolia. Summersweet, as it's known, earns its rep. I couldn't really pin down its distinctive & unusual scent then realized it smells like sarsaparilla! Hmm, I wonder if there's a botanical term that means "smells like sarsaparilla."

Iochroma coccinea. Amazing what a little (okay a lot at one time) water can do to get iochromas to bloom. This one is on my narrow west side strip that doesn't get a whole lot of regular water. Things still grow (it earns its name Jungle) but look so much better with a little water.

Iochroma burgundy. This one does get regular water and it has rewarded me with bunches of burgundy blooms.

Habranthus tubispathos. Many thanks to Kiamara for gifting me this little S. American member of the Amaryllis family. I didn't expect it to bloom this year but lo and behold it put forward this gorgeous gold bloom.

Calibrachoa mini-famous Peach. Just the loveliest speckled rosy-peach colors!

Mandevillea 'Giant Crimson.' Crimson indeed. These flowers are SO red that I can't shoot an extreme closeup as the saturated color throws the camera into a tizzy. Okay, freakout.

Gloriosa lily. I tried several times in the past to get this bulb to grow with little success. I guess the third time is the charm. Now it's very happy, as you can see from this 'perfect' bloom. And the first of the two flowering stems has six flower buds, way more than last year.

Okay, it's just a day lily but that red is so vivid. Thick waxy petals too.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a trick to getting your quince to bloom? I haven't had any luck with mine


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