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Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

Posted by nutsaboutflowers 2b/3a (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 16, 10 at 23:55

Is there, or what are, benefits in knowing the Latin names of plants?

I've often wondered. Would it be helpful, or just hard to remember ? =:0

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

One of the benefits is knowing for sure what plant you're talking about. A plant's Latin name is its own unique name. Common names can change from place to place and person to person.

So, you were looking for something to do this winter? :> LOL

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

Yes it can avoid confusion especially when two plants have the same common name. But there are sometimes official changes in the Latin names too which is confusing. It's also useful for taxonomy to know which plants are in the same families etc.

I just like knowing them. It's sort of an aesthetic thing.

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

The Latin, or botanical, or scientific name of a plant *can* sometimes be more descriptive than the common name, however you have to know what the words mean. While I like to know botanical names I seldom use them on forums as new gardeners will not understand which plants I am talking about. If I say I have a Red Maple almost everyone can see it in their mind, but if I say I have an Acer Rubrum, only some will have a mental picture. Plant tags usually have the common names first and in larger letters as that is what most people are familiar with.

I think if you have the time and inclination it's a worthwhile pursuit to at least learn the names of the plants you have in your garden but expect to explain if you post with those names! :-D

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

Ha ha Marcia =:) Yes, a person needs something to keep their mind from going wonky in the brutal winters. Maybe some of the books I'll get and the websites I read, will teach me a few things about the Latin names.

Good suggestion Luckygal. I should pay more attention to the Latin names when I plant something, and write it down with my notes. Hey, Acer I know goes with Maples, as we have two Amur Maple trees that I love.

Actually, on occasion I've thought of an online Horticultural class, and they seem to suggest learning the Latin names before some of the other stuff. Hmmm. Sometimes I have a hard enough time remembering the common names. Also, for example, I know I have 2 or 3 different types of lilies but I don't know what they're called or what they are. The tags are in the ground beside them.......all I know is that they're really pretty LOL. How utterly sad is that? Tags I haven't even bothered to read =:D

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

Like Gil, i just like knowing the Latin names. And i like catalogues that give you both names because a person might know the plant under either name.

A few years back, some of the people who came to this forum were a bit more insistent on Latin names and i started to learn them and really enjoyed learning them. So i would say go ahead and learn them. You can post quizzes for us!

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

And just in case you get stuck having to pronounce something in real life, this guide is very handy. Too easy to sound knowledgeable on a gardening forum where you just have to get the spelling close. ;0)

Wow, that's nice, everywhere I click on this page opens a new window with an iVillage video. Thanks iVillage, I hate you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pronunciation guide

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

Thanks for the link, Gil. I had one similar years ago but it got lost in computer shuffles. :) And who knew i was pronouncing "achillea" wrong all these years? LOL (Never got out of the As on that site!)

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants


Please tell me there's some rhyme or reason to Latin names, not rules that don't apply half the time, like English.

I like when you look up a plant on Fine Gardening, it tells you how to pronounce the Latin name that goes with it.

BTW Fine Gardening's related site, Fine Cooking has some really awesome recipes.

RE: Benefit of Knowing the Latin Names of Plants

You can tell a lot by the Latin name, like the colour of the foliage or what it's like, or the colour of the flower, etc. Once you start getting into it, it'll come to you.

Achillea millefolium = a yarrow with finely cut leaves
Lamium aureum = a lamium with yellow foliage
Polemonium album = white Jacob's ladder

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