bellevalia forniculata

Jane McGary
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 20:05:01 PST
Arnold asked,
>Anyone know the history behind the name [Bellevalia forniculata]?

Presumably it honors an acquaintance Belleval of the original describer of
the genus, Lapeyrouse. (I suppose the first species to be described was B.
romana.) The species epithet means 'small-arched' (fornicatus 'arched,
vaulted', and the -ul- is the diminutive) and must refer to the shape of
the flower. 

It hasn't got anything to do with what you were thinking! The etymology of
Eng. "fornicate" is supposed to go back to Lat. "fornax" 'oven, furnace',
slang for 'brothel', which is a doublet with Lat. fornix 'archway' -- the
connection being that both free-standing brick ovens and archways were
built in the same way, and still are in some countries. Eng. "furnace" goes
back more directly to "fornax."

Regarding the plant, I grow it with some difficulty -- it is a snowmelt
species from alpine meadows -- but it is worth any effort to see the color
of the small flowers, which are the same blue as a good form of Meconopsis
'Fertile Blue Group'.

Jane McGary
NW Oregon

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