most ridiculous common names

davidrt28 (zone 7)October 18, 2012

I admit, I'm not a regular poster to this forum...but it seemed like the only place to start such a thread.

My first nomination:

The "Scotch Attorney"? Oh really? Is that a _Scottish_ Attorney - the correct way to describe the people of Scotland - or an attorney who drinks a lot of Scotch?

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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

WAY too many to choose from??? lol The ones that irk me the most are Fern/like of orchid /like. Or maybe "lily"
How about "Tree fern" or "Fern tree""? "Orchid palm"??
"Orchid vine " Won't even mention cultivar names except for "Fires of Paradise"lol
How about "6 inch tropical"?? Gazillions more!!! gary

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 4:55AM
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First, what's wrong with 'tree fern'? A pretty apt description for a fern species that develops a trunk and has an arborescent form of growth!

Since common names are just folk names without scientific basis and can vary from area to area and jump from plant to plant, they are all kind of pointless. Typically, they were used to describe a feature or characteristic that plant possessed or an association with some sort of ritual or folktale ('kiss me over the garden gate', 'love lies bleeding', bladdernut, saltcedar, wolfbane, rupturewort). Kind of appealing in an old-world, fairytale sort of way.

Cultivar names are vastly different from common names and while some ARE pretty dumb ('Pinky Winky'), they are assigned by the plant breeder or developer in most cases, so just a reflection of their personal taste. Or lack thereof :-)

And "6 inch tropical" isn't a common name at all but just a descriptor of the retail product. This is when the supplier can't be bothered to provide a botancial OR a common name - pure laziness.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 3:22PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Mainly because they have no hard wood , not at all like a tree nor do they branch. More apt description would be Fern palm. which is even sillier?? Fern tree very tree like but has nothing to do with ferns. "Orchid palm " by just saying the name you KNOW it's not a member of either family lol HOORAY for latinized names !!! gary

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 5:00AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I think that it's silly to think of common names as silly. They serve a useful purpose in communication between gardeners.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 6:17PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Rhizo, I don't think of common names as silly to use. There will always be some people who don't want to remember scientific names. I just think a small % of them are nonsensical. Certainly in 25+ years of thinking about and knowing about plants, the "Scotch Attorney" takes the cake, so to speak.

I have no philosophical (versus descriptive) objection to "orchid vine" since one of the most famous orchids IS a vine, that being vanilla of course. Nor does tree fern seem problematic to me; sure they are physiologically different from most trees, but they are still in the form and size of a tree. Orchid palm does seem a stretch, unless it really looked like a cross between a palm and an orchid, which is hard to imagine.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

John go to bed at noon
Live forever
Bear's breeches
Love in a mist

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

David, you must HATE the fact that so many refer to Pinus sylvestris as Scotch Pine! That one irritates me.

I have a love relationship with common names. When teaching my various horticulture classes, I emphasized Latin nomenclature, but found it fun to wax poetic over common names. I even made up a few of my own! Elaeagnus spp. evolved into Ugly Agnes, for example.

Purple, I'd never heard of John-go-to-bed-at-noon.......had to look that one up. :-)

GG, wasn't there a long (hilarious) thread about common names in the Perennial Forum some years ago?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:27PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

You answered your own ?? lol Vanilla is the latin name
Have never heard it called anything else, " Vining orchid" might make sense but the one with "Orchid vine is neither one lol
I fell into the evil trap of common names with bears foot, squirrels foot,rabbits foot and now duck foot and deer foot ferns and thery are all AIR plants another great term was too lazy to look up the latin names
Another great one is "Flame thrower palm" though I recently heard "Red leaf " except that palms don't have leaves lol I'd bet money sales are MUCH higher for Flame thrower"?? Still waiting for my "Money" tree to produce, i think I was the victim of false advertizing?? lol gary

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:41AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Money plant. (Gary inspired my memory - Ha!)
Chocolate vine (for this nasty Akebia weed)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

How about a Tree of heaven. Doesn't it sound inviting? NOT!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 12:14PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks purpleinpopp. I hadn't heard of "John go to bed at noon". Certainly one of the most narrative names, if nothing else!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:06PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Smiles! Wish I could remember more, I used to have a bunch of plant books with all kinds of weird old stuff.

Finally found a discussion this reminded me of. Lots of good ones in there!!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:59AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I have trouble saying Prostrate Rosemary with a straight face since people usually think I am talking about a male organ.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 1:54PM
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davidrt28, calypsoes are either topical or philosophical.
Here is one that is both.
I guarantee that each weed or combination will grant relief from some human condition - physical or mental.
And somewhere there is binomial for each.
But when my grandmother sent me to pick some "carilla bush" I knew exactly what to get. Much, much later I found out that I was getting the vine Momordica charantia from which she would make carilla bitters, an aptly described 'tea' which would keep her grandson in good health.
And even later I would find the plant listed as toxic in Florida.

This post was edited by ronalawn82 on Sun, Dec 9, 12 at 0:54

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 12:52AM
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