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.
Seeds of Castilleja purpurea April 12, 2012 - The seed photo for Castilleja purpurea is incorrect; seeds are black and poppyseed size.
view the full question and answer
Identification of bush with red berries March 11, 2013 - bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil? view the full question and answer
Plant identification June 01, 2009 - I'm trying to identify a bush/shrub that is approx. 6 ft. with leaves like an azalea but has orange hot air balloon shaped balls that turn to small orange flowers. Blooming now in May. Dies back ea... view the full question and answer
Identification of pink flower near Austin April 10, 2008 - My mother found a flower early this spring at Chrystal Falls park just outside of Austin. It was between red and salmon pink in color, tubular in shape and about 4 inches long. It smells very bad, a... view the full question and answer
Rash resulting from cutting trees in NC. May 08, 2012 - My boyfriend was cutting some trees yesterday. He had thorns in his hands after he was done, and today he has a rash on his legs, a fever and he feels like throwing up. Can you tell me if its symptoms... view the full question and answer