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microcollie
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I don't want to be a garden snob!

I had a friend over yesterday evening, and she was looking at the gardens and asking a few questions. (she's a fairly new gardener) Things like "what's that one called?" and "is it pretty easy to grow?".
She finally stopped me and told me that I sounded "uppity" when I talked about my gardens, because I use mostly latin names.
I tried to explain that, as a gardener, it's good to know the latin names when looking for information about a plant. Many nurseries even arrange their plants alphabetically by latin names.
While she understood the importance of knowing them, she thought that using them in casual conversation was akin to "a doctor who won't use plain english to explain a problem".
So it made me think I don't even know the common names of the majority of plants in my garden. Does this make me "uppity"? Do you use latin or common names?
I will add that for some reason, when I talk about wild flowers, I tend to use the common names. I would never call queen annes lace "daucus carota". But I don't even know if veronicastrum has a common name!
I don't want to be a garden snob :shock:

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Kisal
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When someone asks me the name of a plant, I generally respond, "That's [insert Latin name], but it's usually just called [insert common name]."

I mostly use Latin names for plants even when I think about them, so it's natural to use those terms when I speak about the plants. Looking at my plants, I might think: "Hmmm ... looks like the Spathiphyllum could use some water today," or "I need to get that Calathea into a bigger pot pretty soon." :lol:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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lorax
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I use almost exclusively Latin names in conversation, and usually have to think hard about the common ones. For example, I'm completely familiar with Rosa arkansania as a garden plant, but it would never occur to me to call it a "Wild Rose" unless I thought good and hard about it. Equally, I tend to call my bananas and other things I know to be cultivars by their Latin first names and common second ones - hence I often find myself saying things like "Musa Orito."

IMHO? It's not snobbery, it's precision. When you say "Elephant Ear" for example, it may refer to one of about 50 plants in 7-8 genera. It's much more accurate to say "Colocasia esculenta" or "Alocasia odora" or "Anthurium giganteum." Of course, things get even worse when you switch to another language. I know no fewer than 10 common names in four languages for Caladium bicolor, three of which overlap with Caladium clavatum and two more of which overlap with Xanthosoma saggitifolium. However, if I use the Latin name, it doesn't matter who I'm talking to, they understand exactly which plant I'm talking about.

Rant over - but there's my $0.02 :shock:

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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I use common names... if only for the reason that I can't even pronounce the latin names let alone use them in daily conversation with people :lol: I try to learn the latin names but its easier for me to refer to them by their common names. For example: Its alot easier for me to say Traveler's Palm then it is for me to say Ravenala madagascariensis everytime it is brought up in conversation. When I research the plant though I "Always" use the latin name unless I don't know the latin name in which case I'll use the common name. I find that when I use a common name for a plant most people know what I'm talking about anyway. The only plants that I've had name issues with is the Monstera deliciosa so far and thats just because people confuse it with split leaf Philo/Philodendrons and Desert Cassia ( which I still haven't completely figured out yet lol ) I "think" its called Cassia nemophila Walp, its a cassia that has needle like leaves and small yellow flowers, at least it is according to this site LMFAO [url]https://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Fabaceae/Cassia_nemophila.html[/url]
Wiki however gives a whole new idea of what "Cassia" is ... its really quite confusing as none of the photos they show of a cassia have needle like leaves. [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassia_(legume)[/url] hence my confusion. Not to mention changing the name to Senna? As if I wasn't already confused enough.

as far as you being uppity..I really think that is something that needs to be determined in person. It depends on "how" you were saying it to her and if you may have just been in her opinion arrogantly "showing off".
Last edited by BewilderedGreenyO.o on Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cynthia_h
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BewilderedGreenyO.o wrote:For example: Its alot easier for me to say Traveler's Palm then it is for me to say Ravenala madagascariensis everytime it is brought up in conversation.
Here's a little helper on the pronunciation of some of the Latin words. Start with the last word and work back towards the beginning of the phrase. So...

...madagascariensis means "from Madagascar." You surely have heard of Madagascar, the island off the southeastern coast of Africa, where many plants and animals found nowhere else on earth live (and many of which are now threatened by logging and other practices)? Good. :) Just say "Madagascar" and then add the "-iensis." Both S's are hard, hisssssing sounds. No buzzzzing sounds. Just "ee-EN-sis." It's a genitive (possessive, indicating origin) ending from Latin. Any time you see a word ending in "iensis," you'll know that it came from wherever sits right before it.

Examples:

Cambrigiensis: from Cambrig...ah! Cambridge! Well, yes, sometimes the place name is *also* in Latin.

Legionella londiniensis: a recently identified form of a disease. Guess where this form was first discovered? :wink: https://www.uniprot.org/taxonomy/45068

And so on.

Now to the first word in the scientific name at issue:

Ravenala is defined as "a genus of plants related to the banana." My Latin dictionary is upstairs (computer is still downstairs from Vergil's recovery from surgery and my living down here with him 24 hours a day), so I can't hazard any relationships to other plant-related words.

So there it is. I'll try to render the stress/accented syllables, but plain text is rather limited...

Rah-ve-NAH-la mad-a-GAS-car-ee-EN-sis

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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lorax
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You wouldn't find Ravenala in your Latin dictionary anyway, Cynthia - it's the Malagasy word for the plant, translating roughly to "leaves of the forest." In Malagasy, the pronunciation is ra-VEN-a-la

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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oh! I edited my reply a bit... I forgot about one other plants name I was having issues with.

As far as the travelers palm <<-- lol see I just refered to it as a travelers palm to you guys ;p So if I were to pronounce it by its Malagasy name it would be Ra-ven-a-la Mad-a-gas-car-ee-en-sis ... I think its the " ee-en-sis part that gets me all tongue tied lol
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lorax
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You can also pronounce it mad-a-gas-car-YEN-sis if that makes it a bit easier to wrap your tongue around the word.

It's just that calling a Ravenala a "palm" is hugely misleading, since it's more closely related to ginger.

Cassia and Senna are two large genera of very closely related plants, which has resulted in many of the members of Cassia being moved to Senna under current taxonomic rules - the move was based on genetic similarities. Some Cassia remain as Cassia, and they're a hugely diverse group, and the genus determination is made based more on flowers than on leaf shape.

Now that you're clear as mud, how would you take me telling you that the Cinnamon in your cupboard is more than likely Cassia bark?

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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Yay! I love Cinnamon lol :clap: More the reason to love this plant other then just its looks and hardyness :D
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lorax
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Ah, but the "cinnamon" Cassia is not C. nemophila - here's the kicker and a really good reason to use Latin names. "Cassia" is the common name of Cinnamomum aromaticum.

C. nemophila Walp., on the other hand, is actually a Senna - Senna artemisioides filifolia to be exact - and that's what might be hampering your searches for it. The true Cassias are all trees, while the Sennas are woody shrubs.

Ain't taxonomy grand? :-()

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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Cynthia Thank You so much for explaining how the latin words work I never realized that they meant anything other then something perhaps in latin lol Your information was very helpful :)

LOL! You are so awesome Lorax! I love the way you explain things and always manage to bring a bit of humor to it all :) Thankyou for helping me with my plant confusions hopefully I am clear as day now... At least until the next one comes along :D

I "think" i've got Cassia... umm C. nemophila Walp aka... Senna artemisioides filifolia? lol seedlings growing atm :) pfft! And here I was having trouble pronouncing Ravenala Madagascariensis!! nutz:
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lorax
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Swell! :()

Your Senna is pronounced thusly in America: SEN-na art-a-me-see-OY-des fill-a-foal-ee-a.

The name breaks down in the following way:

Senna - a Latinized Arabic word, meaning "thorny bush."
artemisioides - resembling Artemisia (a genus of sagelike plants)
filifolia - having thread-like leaves.

So what the Latin name is telling you is that you're growing a thorny bush that looks like Artemisia but has long, narrow leaves.

Whenever you see a Latin name that is three words long, as you do in this one, you're looking at a subspecies - the main plant is Senna artimisioides and the particular form is recognized as filifolia - the name will also sometimes be written as S. artimisioides ssp filifolia - the ssp is an abbreviation for subspecies.

The names that follow S. artemisioides filifolia give you a neat window into its botanical history. They are: (Gaudich. ex DC) Randell. What that tells you is that a botanist named Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupre described the plant, based on the work (ex) of the earlier botanist Augustin de Candolle, and that much later, a botanist named Randell was responsable for recognizing the subspecies (although actually, what he's really responsable for is completely reorganizing the species and dividing it into the subspecies you see today, of which there are something like 10 or so).

---

The old binomial, Cassia nemophila, breaks down:

Cassia - from the Greek name Kasia or Kassia (a woman's name - presumably the Greek who named the plants named them for a wife or daughter)
nemophila - "loves glades" - ie most likely found there.

The "Walp." is an abbreviation of the botanist who described it first - properly written Latin botanical names normally include this, especially in books and on the large plant databases. Walp. refers to a German botanist from the mid-1800's with a fantastic name - Wilhelm Gerhard Walpers.

And here's a nifty tool for you - the [url=https://davesgarden.com/guides/botanary/]Botanary[/url], an easy-to search dictionary of the terms used in Latin names, explaining their origins when they're not Latin, and their meanings in any case.

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I use the common names as I do not know any other name, hell i do not even know half of the common names. Some times I just call them some kind of plant that looks like "---" or some thing. My wife went to school for this sort of thing and she has lots of names for plants that I have no idea what they are called.
You guys are plant geeks. :lol: But that is cool. 8)

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I like to know the latin names and use them when precision is important, for research or clarity when there are several things with the same common name.

But I speak or write here almost exclusively in common names, because I am trying to welcome people into the world of gardening, not make it sound intimidating or like you have to have tons and tons of book learning to be able to grow something.
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Heh. I guess I'm half-geek :lol: I find this discussion fascinating and *AM* trying to learn the latin names as best I can. When I'm out in the garden, I do what microcollie said -- refer to the plants with their scientific names -- but only -- uh -- when talking to *myself* :>. But not so much vegetables. Those, I DO tend to emphasize their named names. I can't just say tomato or even cherry/paste/salad/beefstead(sandwich) and not just red tomato or yellow tomato -- it has to be Principe Borghesi or Polish Linguisa, Yellow Bell, Cherokee Purple, etc. and with Brandywine, I'm learning to distinguish the different ones, so I will say Brandywine Sudduth, etc. :wink:

On the forum, there's been enough confusion that I do try to give the Latin names as well as the common names I know them by. :wink: I think in regular conversation with non-gardening friends, I go with the broadest description -- "yellow sauce tomato" "mint" (I *might* supply "peppermint" "spearmint" "applemint" *IF* I'm giving away these three kinds of mints I grow). It DOES happen sometimes, that I actually CAN'T remember the common names because I've been trying too hard to memorize the latin names. :roll:

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lorax
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tomf wrote: You guys are plant geeks. :lol: But that is cool. 8)
Oi! I resemble that remark! They tested me once and found I was almost 100% made up of dork matter.... :-()

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For an example right here on the forum where scientific names helped **clear up confusion** b/c a common name was used for many different plants, please see

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=53464

The plants in question were all called "horsetail fern/palm/whatever." The scientific names told another story.

Cynthia

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applestar
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:arrow: Lorax: :lol:

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I mainly just know the cucurbits and the solanacias (sp). I need to know what I'm growing squash-wise to see if I need to save seed the hard way (intentional pollenation) or if the plants won't cross naturally. The solanacea's are good to know because of crop rotation. E.g. Don't follow this plant with a solanacia, or vice versa. I should learn how to spell it properly, though.

But I always try to learn the Names of plants, on account of the different varieties I grow. 4 kinds of raspberries, different lettuces, 10 or more kinds of tomatoes. So when I give my parents tomatoes, I point to them and say, "that's a lemon boy, etc" But my mom only caught the "lemon" part, so she asks me all the time, "When are you planting more lemon tomatoes?" Which is incorrect... plus its a hybrid and I've moved past that phase of gardening. Sigh!

Of course she still calls it "expresso" instead of eSSpresso; "Netflex" instead of NetflIx, despite constant correction. Oh well.

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lorax
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It's Solanaceae or Solanums.

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lorax wrote:Ah, but the "cinnamon" Cassia is not C. nemophila - here's the kicker and a really good reason to use Latin names. "Cassia" is the common name of Cinnamomum aromaticum.

C. nemophila Walp., on the other hand, is actually a Senna - Senna artemisioides filifolia to be exact - and that's what might be hampering your searches for it. The true Cassias are all trees, while the Sennas are woody shrubs.

Ain't taxonomy grand? :-()
Okay, I can't speak English properly so forget about speaking Latin. I did cross over Cinnamon pass last week though.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/Colorado%20July%202010/colorado2010139.jpg[/img]

Should it more correctly be named Cinnamomum Aromaticum pass?

Ted
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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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Should it more correctly be named Cinnamomum Aromaticum pass?

Ted
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tedln
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Sorry! I couldn't resist.

If someone provides a Latin name for a plant. I usually know what we are talking about. If someone asks me about a plant, I am totally unable to provide a Latin name. I have no idea where I obtained the ability to understand it, but not use it. I am one of those people who has a hard time remembering his Children s names. I sometimes pause when my wife asks a question because I am trying to remember her name in order to respond correctly.

.........................................................Ted
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