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.
Question about the Chitalpa tree June 28, 2012 - A bush w/6" long pencil thin seed pod, leaves 4"x1/2", flower that looks like the flower on the Chitalpa tree. Is there a Chitalpa bush. The one I have I grew from seed from the pod; flat, round ... view the full question and answer
Plant ID from Horseshoe Bend, TX April 01, 2012 - I am trying to identify two plants - one - a flower springing up in a mint patch/Users/leehsb/Desktop/DSC_0407.JPG/Users/leehsb/Desktop/DSC_0408.JPG and the next a small bunched plant in our garden (n... view the full question and answer
Plant identification April 16, 2010 - No pictures only memory. It looks like a dried flower and grows with other wildflowers along roadside. It is mostly purple or blue purple and sometimes called statis.
Stems favor dandelions, only t... view the full question and answer
Plant Identification March 11, 2009 - Hello. I don't know if this is a North American native plant, but here's my question: I have a soft, low groundcover that looks like a miniature version of Foxtail Fern. Lowe's folks suggested it m... view the full question and answer
Plant identification November 02, 2010 - Near Abilene State Park, a plant's leaves turn purple and it seems to have a pineapple looking growth. We call it the purple pineapple? view the full question and answer