Hummingbird Bush | Hamelia patens Hummingbird Bush | Anisicanthus wrightii
What’s in a Name?
Hummingbird Bush | Hamelia patens
Hummingbird Bush | Anisicanthus wrightii
Like the names that identify people, plants have first and last names too. Plants’ names simply put last name first (capitalized) followed by the first name. You might say “the same as ours, but opposite.” John Smith in botanical structure would be Smith john. As in many scientific classifications, in the plant world the last name is called genus, and the first name is called species. The mystery in botanical names can be attributed to the language of Latin, considered the universal language. Unlike people names, Latin names will be the same all over the world.
Let’s Talk Plants
To make talking about plants more precise, botanical names often describe plant characteristics, such as leaf shape, flower color, or plant form. Common names used in place of botanical names can be descriptive as well. However, common names are somewhat like nicknames and are not reliable when talking about or trying to find a plant. Several plants may answer to a common name though they arise from very different families and grow in different forms. A botanical name always identifies one specific plant. You don’t need to pronounce the botanical name – it often varies – but do take it with you to the nursery to avoid confusion and to make sure you get what you were looking for.
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