Question about Naked Ladies
Thu, 20 Dec 2007 10:03:48 PST
On 14 Dec 07, at 16:12, Marguerite English wrote:

> ...I hadn't noticed the name hurricane lilies before, thanks for
> sharing it. 

I'm going to be one of those plant name snots and disagree. All the 
plants we grow have perfectly good names assigned by our friends the 
botanists, and these are (for the most part) unambiguous and 
universally understood. I honestly think that participants in a 
mailing list like this one should make every effort to learn and use 
those names.

Consider "hurricane lilies". What on earth are *those*? Will someone 
like myself in Canada know what is referred to? Or someone in 
southern France or Russia or India or South Africa or Australia? 
Probably not.

Moreover, many such English-language names are not, in fact, true 
common names. They are made up, usually by crude translations from 
the Latinate botanical names. That horrible old book "Standardized 
Plant Names" is perhaps the pinnacle of this tendency, but more 
recently I noticed, as I searched for information on a certain plant 
(forget which, sorry) that every online nursery that listed it used a 
different, made-up-on-the-spot English-language name. The resultant 
is worse than useless -- someone unfamiliar with the ins and outs of 
plant names may falsely think that googling one of those made-up 
names will cough up other suppliers.

Finally, I appeal to the Court of Bluebells, that name having very 
diverse meanings depending on who and where you are.

No, wait, I'm not finished my rant: one more thing: using Latinate 
botanical names does not mean you have to learn Latin. Even the 
botanists who write up plant descriptions in Latin need only learn a 
little of the language, the whole complex mechanism of tense, mood, 
and voice of verbs being disused in botanical Latin -- unless, of 
course, a botanist deliberately wishes to obfuscate things.

No, I'm still not finished. I have no mercy on this subject. Keep 
reading! The cry goes up, to buttress the accusation of elitism, that 
"Latin names are too hard." Piffle, sheer piffle, nothing but mental 
laziness. No one thinks twice about saying fuchsia, petunia, 
rhododendron, chrysanthemum, trillium, podophyllum, crocus, 
narcissus, zephyranthes, habranthus, tecophilaea, or urginea. Those 
are all Latinate names. What then is wrong with the rest?

And if anyone pleads "oh, it's just too tough for me" let me ask, can 
you learn the names of new friends? John Smith, Wilma Bonneville, 
Veriolitsia Glomulaitis, etc? Sure you can. Your plants are your 
friends, too, so be nice to them and learn *their* names. Just 
remember the rule that their names, like those of the Hungarians, 
have family name first, then personal name. (Actually, for plants, 
the genus name, not the family name, first; same diff.)

Okay, you can relax now. I'm really done. There will, however, be a 
pop quiz in the very near future, so be ready for it.

Merry Christmas everyone, and if anyone wonders what real figgy 
pudding is all about, I'll be able to tell you in 8 days.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

More information about the pbs mailing list