Blooms, blossoms or flowers?

botanybabeJune 2, 2008

Hello folks,

I've noticed as I visit various discussion groups, that very many people refer to flowers as "blooms." Daylily folks say "Today's Blooms" then post a lot of pictures. Many folk do the same on other forums.

Am I wrong to be annoyed? When I was a botany student, we learned that these things were called "flowers" and "bloom" was a verb. Has this changed?

Perhaps I should just relax, but it really bugs me.


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The thing to remember is that not everyone who visits these forums has a degree in botany or has even studied the subject or they may have forgotten what they did study long ago. We usually know what is meant by the context. Relax. Find something serious to get "bugged" about like excess use of pesticides or whatever gets your dander up.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 7:39AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

'Bloom' can be used perfectly correctly as a noun OR a verb. As can 'flower'. As can 'blossom'.

There is no botanical rule that declares the correctness or validity of these words when used in a botanical context.

As an aside, 'bloom' is the usual term in the professional gatherings, discussions, lectures, etc. that I've been part of.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 12:40PM
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'Bloom' is a largely poetic / semi-archaic term (either as a verb or as a noun); some people like using it, others tend not to use it.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 3:52PM
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Of course there are, as Sandy suggests, bigger things to get in a flap about. Generally I tend to expend my energy on things like cleaner water, cleaner air, conservation of the rainforest species, etc.

The Calflora botannical terms list defines the word "bloom" this way: Bloom: a white, powderlike coating sometimes found on a leaf or stem surface

Ibiblio at botanyNet doesn't even have the word "bloom" in its lexicon.

But there are other lists of botannical terms that use it in the ways listed by rhizo and Resin.

I guess I'll keep my mouth shut in any other forum in favor of keeping the peace. But it still bugs me.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 6:45PM
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Specialized fields of study often have word usage or conventions that differ from the norm. That doesn't negate the defintion of the same word in more broader terms. Webster's Ninth Edition lists 'bloom' as both a noun and a verb and the primary definition under the noun is "flower"; the second is "the flowering state". It's not until the third definition that the "powdery coating" gets mentioned. 'Blossom' is also listed as both a noun and a verb and primary definition under the noun is "the flower of a seed plant".

Perhaps neither is especially accurate or enlightening in botanical terms but their usage is perfectly valid nonetheless.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 10:52PM
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botanybabe, allow me to guess that you are of that era when accuracy was the platinum standard of performance and expression. Flower was the plant part which we dissected and described in terms of petals and sepals, anthers and filament etc. etc. Then came 'inflorescence'- many flowers in a composite structure- cymes,racemes and umbels. Terms got a bit undefinable after this. Blossoms seemed to mean reproductive structures which lacked color and were associated with the earliest appearance of such structures on (fruit) trees as in 'look! the mango tree has got blossoms' or 'my orange tree dropped all its blossoms'.
"Bloom" and particularly "blooming" came later, the latter very much later.
Bloom first appeared as a horticultural term and I remember it to be specific to orchids. Orchids did not flower; they BLOOMED!
Blooming and blinking were mild swear words and you can imagine the double entendre difficulties with such statements as:-
My blooming orchids need some fish emulsion again.
The blinking lights on my Christmas tree can't seem to work properly.
I cope with the issue by laughing loudly and derisively at statements such as:-
"The Prince will share quarters with three others and a toilet" from a TV commentator.
"I laid in bed all morning", from my very own favorite little niece.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:38AM
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Ah yes, my age and stilted education are showing. I'm trying to relax, folks, but I'm a type A so it's not easy.

Ronalawn you know me too well.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:24PM
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botanybabe, I must share this remark from a 'baby boomer' sister-in-law.
"Of course, when HE went to school, the body of knowledge was so small, it was easy to learn and remember EVERYTHING!"
AND, for me, laughing out loud at inaccuracies is a form of relaxation.
Have a pleasant Sunday!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 3:08AM
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