Common names are curious things. While no one would bat an eye about a paper dissecting some arcane point of minutiae regarding Polygonum orientale, it’s difficult to imagine a crotchety old botanist standing before his peers at a professional conference and delivering a serious exposition on “Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate.” Where botanical names are all about science and rules, common names are about art and whimsy. Botanical names are about the sharing of information; common names are about conversation and pleasant communication. Botanical names are neat and orderly, law-abiding citizens; common names are messy, free-wheeling, teenaged scofflaws.
All of that is a way of saying that “frogfruit” and “fogfruit” are like the old chewing gum ads – they’re “two… two… two mints in one!” OK, Phyla nodiflora is not a mint, it’s in the Verbena family, but both common names are commonly applied to that species and several others related to it. In fact, fogfruit probably even predates frogfruit as a common name by about 100 years (early 1800’s for fogfruit vs. early 1900’s for frogfruit). Most likely, frogfruit arose as a common name from a mispronunciation or misspelling of fogfruit. I have in my mind the scene of a copy editor looking at “fogfruit” and saying, “That can’t be right! What the heck is a fogfruit? It must be, oh, I don’t know, maybe frogfruit! Yep, that must be it. Frogfruit makes a lot more sense! Set the type, boys!” Even today, if you do a Google search for each common name, you’ll get more “hits” for fogfruit than you will for frogfruit. Neither common name makes much sense to me and I’m still looking for a good (non-fanciful) explanation for the origin of either one. My personal preference is for the common name, Turkey-tangle, but that’s another issue altogether.
Plant identfication April 06, 2009 - slow growing woody vine, yellow flowers, (grows butterfly shape leaves with seed in middle of it) in addition to the regular leaves. view the full question and answer
Name of algae on ground that swells after a rain March 12, 2009 - What is the name of the algae looking stuff on the ground that swells up after rain. I thought it was "nostock" but I can't locate that name anywhere.
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