Common or Latin?

I must be odd. I like Botanical Latin. I like to learn the names and pronounce them properly, not to show off, and not to impress, but simply to increase my knowledge and improve my understanding of plants and their origins and differences. It could be because I was good at languages and always like to learn a few words on holiday and pronounce them properly (no mean feat in Turkey!)

A lot of common names in use today have been around since medieval times and it was not until 1753 that the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus published the binomial system. Once I had grasped the basics of plant classification – family, genus, species and cultivar/variety it all made sense. Pronouncing them properly is another matter! It’s one thing knowing what they are and how they are spelt but it’s another thing knowing how they are pronounced. There are a few pronunciation web sites which help, even pre-recorded audio ones (although beware of american differences) and I have a handy little book called “Plant Names Simplified” by Johnson & Smith (although the very first plant I looked up wasn’t in there – Chaenomeles or Japanese quince). It gets even more confusing when someone you admire gets it wrong. I love Carol Klein but cringe at some of her pronunciation!

I am curious, I like to learn stuff, I like to get things right, I don’t like to make a fool of myself, I have a thirst for knowledge, I love gardening and I don’t like to be bored (or boring!). Somewhere in there is the reason!

I wonder though if anyone has a plant label big enough for Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Dissectum’ Atropurpureum Group ?

1 thought on “Common or Latin?

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