Dodecatheon etymology

David Pilling
Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:36:26 PDT

On 13/04/16 19:50, Travis O wrote:
> But of course Pliny was talking about a species of Primula (which species, does anyone know?)
 > since Dodecatheon is a New World genus.

Good point. If one wanted to quibble, it also is found in Siberia.

A fine source of name explanations is:

For the area around Dodec... it offers

Dodecahe'ma: from the Greek words dodeka, "twelve," and hema, "dart, 
javelin," referring to the number of awns on the involucre (ref. genus 
dodecan'dra: having twelve stamens (ref. Polanisia dodecandra ssp. 
Dodecath'eon: from the Greek dodeka, "twelve," and thios, "god(s)."  One 
source implies that it was considered to be powerful medicine and under 
the care of the twelve leading gods, and another suggests that because 
the flowers sometimes appear in clusters of twelve, the Roman naturalist 
Pliny bestowed this name because he thought the flowers represented the 
twelve Olympian gods (ref. genus Dodecatheon)

Another reference:…

"Although Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), the founder of the binomial 
nomenclature system, did not state why he chose this name for a North 
American genus, an explanation was provided by the eminent English 
botanist Sir William Hooker (1785-1865):

'The Dodecatheon of modern authors has, however, nothing to do with the 
individual to which Pliny applied so grand a designation, as it is a 
native of the New World, and receives its name in allusion to the number 
of flowers, frequently twelve, which it bears in each umbel (Curtis's 
Botanical Magazine 64, plate 3622, 1837, as quoted in Ingram, 1963).'

David Pilling

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