Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Is there a doctor in the house?

Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile know that I have on several occasions had fun with the common names of plants, offering up lists with (hopefully) amusing comments.
Well, here's a variation on that Name Game. On more than one occasion, an Ace customer has misconstrued my recommendation of the shade plant Glechoma, thinking I'd said 'Glaucoma' (and clearly confused). And that got me thinking that there are quite a few botanical names that sound as if they might belong to the world of medicine. Here is a beginner's list, most of these found in my own garden.
Streptocarpella. As in strep throat. Strep is short for Streptococcal and that makes the two names even closer.
Trachelospermum (star jasmine). Of course the connection is the trachea in our throats.
Gasteria (a type of succulent). As in Gastro-intestinal tract.
Chlorophytum. The connection is the Chloro part (means green), most obviously in the word chloroform. For the medical geeks, there's Chlorpromazine, a tranquilizing drug.
Nephrolepsis (a genus of ferns). This word just sounds scary ("I'm so sorry," the doctor said to Robert "your wife has nephrolepsis. I'm afraid it's fatal." The 'lepsis' part reminds me of things like sepsis, so maybe that's where the scary echoes are.
Dyckia marnier-lepostollei (a spiny succulent). This name reminded me from the moment I heard it of same rare genetic disease.
Doryncium hirsutum. The species name means 'hairy' and it seems like this could be a medical term referring to a disease that attacks the hair follicles or leads to excessive hair growth.
Same for Buddha's Hand citrus. If you've seen the fruit, it gets this common name from the fruit resembling a deformed hand. Shades of Elephant Man.
Sticking with parts of the body how about the botanical name for Mousetail arum? Arisarum proboscideum. All right, give us your best Jimmy Durante impersonation. Of course, proboscis is latin for the nose of a mammal.
Mammillaria. This barrel-type cactus's name is pretty straight forward (ie mammary gland).
Then there's the genus Scrophularia. Here the reference is somewhat obscure. Some of this plant's species reportedly cured scrofula, a disease causing swollen glands in the young.
Glottiphylum (succulent). Do you get the connection? The glottis is the part of the larynx consisting of the vocal cords and the slit-like opening between them.
Fenestraria (succulent). To 'fenestrate' is to cut an opening into something and is a term used in the operating room (as well as a general use term).
Aglaonema (houseplant). For some reason this name reminds me of a certain disease; I just can't put my finger on it. Anyone?
Ampelopsis brevipedlunculata (Porcelain berry vine). It's not the genus but the species name that seems like it has to be part of some medical lexicon. Of course, it should be pointed out that medical and botanical terms are both derived from Latin so they share a common source.
Same with Sarcococca humilis. It just seems like it refers to a medical condition.
And finally, since psychology has links to the world of medicine (mind/body and all that), I offer two curious plant names. The first is Schizostylis and the second Schizophragma. Of course the use of the word 'schizo' doesn't refer to a split personality but to a way in which the plant is in some way 'divided.' In the latter plant's case, it refers to the divided wall of the fruits.

Okay, whew, that was a lot of medical  mumbo-jumbo. Or is that mumbo-gumbo (I think I may be getting hungry).
Here are photos taken in the garden today.

Everybody's favorite 'pocketbook,' Calceolaria 'Kentish Hero.'

The distinctive Coreopsis 'Tiger Stripes' with its pinwheel petal form.

Lilium 'Honey Bee.' Usually the first of my lilies to bloom, this year it waited until mid-May.

Here's it's the little metal butterflies that are the subject of the photo. Found them online. Very sweet.

Annie's has some of the best snapdragons. Here's one, A. 'Chantilly Bronze' in all its glory. 

My Eriogonum giganteum just keeps getting bigger and better. It's hard to pick out in this photo, but it is topped by large sprays of developing flower clusters. I love CA Buckwheats.

The tubular orange flowers belong to an uncommon Cuphea called C. schumannia. Bigger than a cigar cuphea but not as big as those on the llavea (batface) types, it's its own charming creature.

"The Jack is back!" Okay, I can't really patent that phrase but it's appropriate for my dwarf Jacaranda (Bonzai Blue). Like my friend's specimen, it lost all its leaves but then leafed out again in late April. It's now producing its first purple flowers.

My ever evolving front of the Aussie bed. Succulents are gradually finding their way there.

The dangling flowers belong to Tecoma x smithii, looking a bit strange juxtaposed against the house in the background. But there's no mistaking their vivid peachy-orange bells.

Speaking of instant recognition, here are the vivid blue flowers of Evolvulus. It's now in year three and better than ever, proving that yes indeed it is a perennial.

Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile.' Okay, not the greatest photo but it was an excuse to mention this wonderfully fragrant mock orange. I swear, you can practically smell them through your computer.

Arisaema speciosum var. magnificum. Love the Jack-in-the-Pulpits and this is one of my favorites.

Begonia 'Gryphon.' Not a true 'cane-type' begonia but it is a hybrid of one. It has the distinctive spotting of certain angelwing types, only this hybrid will get 3-4' tall and wide! Make room.

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