Friday, June 23, 2006
The name of the lily
Many find their use pretentious, but there is a reason for latin botanical names. They make it very clear exactly which plant you are talking about. I started using the latin names almost exclusively about a year ago. For me, it cleared up the confusion. And it still does. Perhaps this is the influence of Sister Leonarda from my 8th grade latin class.
Here are my common/latin name pet peeves:
True lilies and daylilies are very different. Let’s acknowledge that by using the correct names for each. I too often hear daylilies referred to as lilies. It’s like confusing double impatiens with roses. They are completely different plants. Then there are the other misuses of “lily,” like calla lily, canna lily and trout lily.
Many use the name cranesbill for true (perennial) geraniums, but it is still vexing. And, again, the two plant families are very different. Too bad we insist on the confusion. I love both species, but they have very different uses and culture requirements.
Honestly, I don’t mean to sound pedantic. But I do feel these and many other name variations in garden plants create real confusion, particularly for novice gardeners. Of course, it doesn't help that plants are often reclassified. Yet, it's all we've got.
Latin? Not a dead language, as far as gardening is concerned.