Not always what they seem

Peter60(Yorkshire UK)October 9, 2004

While we can take the specific geographical epithet of most plants to be an accurate statement of their origins this is not always to be relied upon. There are many anomalies.

Scilla peruviana does not originate from Peru. The ship that brought it to the UK bore the name Peru and it was thought that is where the plants came from.

Prunus persica does not come from Persia but from China.

Our much grown Hibiscus syriacus is also from China and did not originate in Syria.

Many plants having the epithet 'indica' are not from India simply because when named much of Asia was accepted as India.

Azalea indica (Rhododendron indica) , long cultivated in Japan is native to China.

Its natural spread did not extend to the Indian sub-continent.

Lagerstroemia indica the Crepe Mytle originates from China.

The well known Kerria japonica is a native of China.

So while we are taking pride in learning our botanical names, perhaps we should be just a little questioning as to the accuracy of the geographical epithet that makes up the specific name of many.

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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

That sounds great, but what is the point if everyone still calls it Kerria japonica? I could take the endless hours fo doing research for what? So I can say, "But it is really from China and not Japan" and everyone around me says "Oh, OK...whatever."?

How about we get the genus properly identified first and then we work on the specific epitath?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 1:49PM
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Or even worse, when they still call it a common name that gives no clue exactly what the plant is.
I get this one alot: "Do you have a firebush?" So far I have found that folks are referring to nandina dwarf firepower, burning bush, and firecracker vine. And who knows what other things they were talking about!!

This is probably going to be an issue with plants as long as there are humans involved in naming them...

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 6:56PM
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And it does not get any better when importers/growers run out of a variety, tag and relable similar plants wrongly, and pass them on as the 'real thing'.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2004 at 4:29PM
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