En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Source for common names of plants in the United States

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - January 16, 2008

From: London, England
Region: Other
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Source for common names of plants in the United States
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Plants! I am writing to you on behalf of Carol Sharp who is one of the leading plant and flower photographers here in the UK. We will shortly be making her collections of work available to the US stock photographic market. As such, we need to tag each image with the subjects botanical and common name to allow them to be easily found on a database. As you will probably be aware, there are differences in common names between here and the US, for example, what we in the UK would know as a 'cornflower' would be known as 'bachelors buttons' in the US. This is where I'm hoping you might be able to help us. I am looking for a book/resource which has the UK and US common names for plants to compare. Would you or your colleagues be able to help? Thank you in advance for your advice.

ANSWER:

First of all, you need to realize that many common names are regional and not agreed upon by all; however, we do have some sources that will provide a collection of common names. For plants native to North America your best source would be the USDA Plants Database. This database also includes plants that have been introduced to North America but now commonly occur in many areas—for instance, Centaurea cyanus (garden cornflower).

Another source is the online version of Flora of North America. Not all the botanical families have been put online yet, but those that are there have common names included. Again, this source includes some introduced species. For instance, Centaurea cyanus has a long list of common names associated with it on their entry.

Now, for cultivated garden plants that don't happen to occur in the USDA Plants Database or in Flora of North America, we suggest the following:

1) Botanica: the illustrated A-Z of over 10,000 garden plants and how to cultivate them. 1999. Wellcome Rain Publishers. It has common names from UK, Australia, New Zealand and North America.

2) Sunset's gardening publications. They have "Top Ten Garden Guides" for most areas of the United States.

 

 

 

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Sources for seed of Utah native Asclepias labriformis
January 08, 2006 - Hi there, I am looking for seeds of the plant "Asclepias labriformis" which is native to Utah. Can you help me to find seeds from this plant?
view the full question and answer

Source for eastern red cedar trees for Pennsylvania
January 20, 2009 - Please help, Mr. Smarty Pants! I live in Easton PA, and I would like to create an instant screen on my property line using Eastern Redcedar trees. I was hoping to find 5 to 6 foot trees. Most place...
view the full question and answer

plant labels to indicate resistance to wildfire
November 12, 2013 - I have a group of students researching plants that are more fire resistant. They have learned that keeping home landscaping around a structure will help reduce the risk of a structure catching fire i...
view the full question and answer

Native non-invasive plant seeds for Oregon wedding
January 21, 2008 - I study invasive plants and I am interested in native plant re-vegetation. I am also planning a wedding in July. We thought a nice party favor would be wild flower seeds. I have people coming from ...
view the full question and answer

Fruit on Jasmines
March 13, 2013 - My jasmines have grown some small purple fruits and she is about to get her full bloom soon. Should I cut them off to help the plants out? What are they?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center