Albucas and other South African Hyacinthaceae

Nhu H. Nguyen
Tue, 25 Mar 2008 13:29:00 PDT
This has been an interesting thread. I find myself very often trying to
decipher the roots of Latin names. Knowing the meaning makes it much easier
to memorize the names. While we can't be absolutely sure of the author's
meaning of a specific epithet without looking into the original literature
(even then it may still be unclear), we can make a few guesses. I would have
to agree with the guesses so far that 1) canadensis is a misnomer where
Linnaeus thought it came from Canada, and 2) it probably refers to a hallow
where the plant was first collected -- suffixes which ends in "ensis" refers
to locality of a specimen.

Here are a few useful suffixes which we often encounter in Latin

-ensis (canadensis) = refers to the locality of the specimen or the range of
the species
-cola (volcanicola) = living on or the vicinity of

-ii (shawii) = literally means "of Shaw" or "belonging to Shaw", masculine
form which means that Shaw must be a man.
-ae (barbarae) = "of Barbara", feminine form
-iana or -ana (namaquana) = can also be used to indicate belonging to a
person or a place
-orum (vocanorum) = also belonging to, but plural and often used for
objects, masculine form
-arum = same as orum, but feminine

Berkeley, CA -- few things are blooming but flowering buds abound!

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