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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Friday - September 02, 2011

From: Plainville, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Dictionary of botanical names
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for an online resource that will tell me what the botanical names mean, for example, Cornus florida. Why is it named that? Surely somewhere there is information that explains the meaning of each. I have a list of botanical names I would like to look up. Thank you for your time and consideration.

ANSWER:

Here are several sites with definitions of botanical names:

California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations.  A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology

Dictionary of Botanical Epithets

Botanary on Dave's Garden webpage.

The Meaning of Latin Plant Names from the SeedSite.

This next link is a group of short biographies of people whose names appear in the botanical names of Eastern Sierra plants:

Who's in a Name?

These last two links tells how the Latin names are formed:

Botanical Binomials — What Do Plant Names Mean?

What Scientific Names of Plants Mean

Finally, here are three excellent paper resources:

Gledhill, David.   The Names of Plants.  4th edition.  2008.  Cambridge University Press.  Older editions often can be found at secondhand book stores.

Stearn, William.  Botanical Latin.  4th edition.  2004.  Timber Press.

Borror, Donald.  Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms.  1960.  McGraw-Hill.

 

 

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