the numbers, was something else

Nathan Lange
Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:12:25 PDT

I hope the Wiki continues to strive as a model database of accurate 
horticultural information for bulbous plants. If common usage were 
its only standard, then the species would be organized by common 
names. Fortunately, that is not the case. The thousands of people who 
read the PBS wiki pages every day would be better served, and 
educated, if the plant descriptions were as carefully crafted as the 
spelling of the plant names. I don't think anyone is confused by the 
words flower, flowered, or flowering. On the other hand, the word 
"bloom" means something else and should be used when describing blue 
or silvery-leaf plants (assuming we don't need to discuss algae 
blooms or chocolate bloom). I'm not just suggesting this. I am 
reporting the fact that this is the current scientifically accepted 
form of communication of plant descriptions. What I am suggesting is 
that the PBS Wiki catch up to this reality. If you are happy 
describing plants with the same words used by a Walmart add or the 
local botanic garden trying to appeal to the lowest common 
denominator of would be gardener, then "bloom" as in "flower" is the 
word for you. I get that there are superficial reasons to say "bloom" 
aloud or in email. It's one syllable, I get to say "oom", I already 
said flower, my Grandmother always said bloom, "repeat flowering 
Iris" sounds stupid, etc. But, the PBS Wiki can do better than that.

There is an excellent database that can show you the historical use 
of the word "bloom" in plant science:
Agricola =…
The numbers below are the number of publications for the given time 
frame, first # is for the word "bloom" and the second # is for bloom 
NOT phytoplankton NOT Cyanobacteria NOT wax NOT algae NOT diatom NOT 
macroalgae NOT "water bloom" NOT algal NOT gelatin NOT chocolates NOT duckweed
1970-79  338  290
1980-89  485  427
1990-99  744  648
2000-09  1233  895
2010-14  1021  540
2014   70   29

While the majority of 1970's publications with "bloom" in their 
citation are about flowers, the vast majority of 2000-2014 
publications with "bloom" in their citation are about something else, 
mostly algal blooms, with the ratio increasing to over 3 to 1 by this 
year. Unless you write ads for Walmart, the trend does not look good 
for bloom as a description of flowers.

I want to contribute to the Wiki. Could we please bring it out of the 
1970s so I don't have to uncomfortably change someone else's text 
every time I post some pictures?  Do we want to settle for "common" 
or strive for accurate?


At 01:31 PM 10/14/2014, you wrote:
>On 13/10/2014 23:40, Nathan Lange wrote:
>>that ratio of flower/bloom hits to about 18.2. Sadly, the ratio for the
>>PBS Wiki is only 1.5, one of the reasons I am very reluctant to ask you
>>for a password for posting pictures.
>For the wiki I can find exact values, flower 1406, bloom 641, giving 
>a ratio of 2.19.
>Google offers (about), 777 and 393, ratio 1.97
>For this list archive I get, flower  10493, bloom 11421. Google 
>gives flower 24,900, bloom 32,000.
>People are welcome to contribute to the wiki.
>Common usage is produced by those who write and are read. The 
>thousands of people who read the PBS wiki pages every day are being 
>exposed to the current choice of words.
>David Pilling

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