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

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Monday - March 21, 2005

From: San Diego, CA
Region: California
Topic: General Botany
Title: Smarty Plants on aceae
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

How is the family suffix "-aceae", as in Asteraceae, pronounced? I find disagreeing claims in my searches- "ay-see-ee" and "ay-see-ay" seem to be the most common, but I've also seen just "ay-see". Is there any agreement on this among botanists?

ANSWER:

Not really, though I rarely encounter the "ay-see" pronunciation. Here are afew tips to keep in mind regarding pronunciation:
1. classical scholars don't always agree on pronunciation
2. professional botanists vary substantially in their pronunciation
3. individual botanists rarely are completely consistent in pronunciation
4. people tend to pronounce names the way they first learned them regardless of any subsequently-encountered rules.

Click here for some great guides to botanical pronunciation from Google.
 

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