Concise labeling: You say 'Heuchera,' I say 'H. americana'

fmogul(z6-7 NY)September 19, 2006

[cross-posted with "Perennials" and "New to Gardening"]

I'm interested in what people leave in, and what they leave out -- assuming you can't get a plant's full name on a relatively small zinc marker, and assuming you're not working for a botanic garden but simply want to communicate some basic information to yourself and others a good few years from now.

I want to keep the cultivar names, because they're descriptive and handy. The main issue is the first line with genus and species. There's no room to write names out in full. So, yes, I could write "H. americana," instead of "Heuchera americana," but it seems a shame to effectively omit the much more recognizable and meaningful genus, in favor of the species. I'd know what "H." means, but most others wouldn't. And while "americana" isn't especially crucial, because it coers most common heucheras, what about those where the species is more up-for-grabs, such as Clematis? I'm trying to strike some balance between scientific thoroughness, user-friendliness and consistency.

So what do you think:

1) "Heuchera" or "H. americana" ?

2) "Clematis" or "C. Terniflora"?

3) "Astilbe" or "A. arendsii"?

4) "Pieris" or "P. japonica"?

5) "Campanula" or "C. Portenschlagiana"?

And what the heck do I do to condense Athyrium niponicum var. pictum aka 'Ursula's Red'?!?

Yours in taxonomic gratitude,


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happyhoe(z6 OH)

Abbreviating the genus is a acceptable. It's a lot easier to figure out what the genus is than to guess at the species.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 10:15AM
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Buy bigger labels or write smaller ;-))

If it is for your own personal use, you can put whatever you like, as long as you will understand it - I'd put something like "Heuch. amer.", or maybe even just an accession number that can be back-checked to a listing on computer disc or paper indoors.

For the Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Ursula's Red' problem, options include (1) don't grow it, just get the wild-type species, which is more attractive and has a much shorter name :-), or (2) try "Athyr. nip. pict. 'Urs. Red' "


    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 5:39AM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

This business of plant names has become ridiculous in many ways. Plant taxonomy is my field and it pains me greatly to see how names are disregarded. If you are labelling for your own use, I would suggest that you use any abbreviation which will convey meaning to you 5 years from now. As for the public; a cricket possibly knows or cares more about correct names than the average gardener. The public seems to believe that Latin botanical nomenclature is too complex for the average person to ridiculous!!!
In today's world, when almost all plants of horticultural significance are the result of hybridisation, cultivar names have become quite important and should be a part of the full and correct name. Needless to say, usually there is no authority to cite

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 7:32PM
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