naming of plants

Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:37:53 PST
>If botanical genus names are singular (as Latin words), does better or more informed  usage require that we use them only in the singular sense in English? Or should the plural form be used?  I emphatically say “NO”. Treat them as collective nouns, and have the verbs agree as the sense demands.  
Descriptive linguistics would say that “data” and “bacteria” now take singular verbs: “the data shows that the bacteria is extraterrestrial, Captain”. 
The distinction which would bring out The Blue Pencil is that a word which is a generic name can never have a plural, because there can’t be one. There can be only one genus /Iris/. Like there can only be one planet Mars or Jupiter. 
The word “iris” certainly can function as a plural. “I see you grow lots of iris.” I would correct this to “irises” with the blue pencil, if it were written (because the O.E.D. says so), but in conversation it would be acceptable, because people talk that way. 
Bob Nold
Denver, Colorado, USA
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