Monday, December 22, 2008

Garden Nomenclature

This is the season for dreaming by the fire with seed catalogs. Are you baffled by some of the catalog Latin lingo? Here's a quick guide:
  1. Genus is in Capitalized italics
  2. Species is in lower case italics
  3. Variety can include size, color, habit or more. The variety is often in 'single quotation marks', especially if it is named after a person or place.
  4. The catalog then often adds the common name, commentary, and suggestions for companion plantings.
For an example, let's look at a humorous listing from a mock nursery catalog put out by Shady Deals Nursery:

Colocasia esculenta 'Pelosii' (Nancy's Revenge Elephant's Ear) $5,000. A real first of its kind! While we find this attractive, we've also found it to be quite aggressive and very detrimental to nearby bushes, so watch it closely. A superb choice for the West Coast.


Anonymous said...

I did enjoy this bogus listing, not so far off the mark of some catalogues--and what a great, pithy way to cover the basics of nomenclature.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Welcome Pomona! Thank you for your kind words. The ironic copy at Shady Deals is what comes out when the folks at Plant Delights nursery have written one glowing plant description too many.

Debbie said...

I especially love the description for Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe Lieberman'. Not only is Joe my state senator he is also a 'hometown' boy. The description is perfect. Thanks for sharing the link, I had a good laugh.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Debbie, Glad you got a kick out them! Your comment sent me back there and I was howling over some new ones he had written.