"Why Latin? Latin names are essential for accurate communication as a plant's common name often varies from one area to another -- especially when different countries come into the picture. The language of horticulture, or binomial nomenclature, makes it so everyone around the world can understand the same botanical meaning. The origins of botanical Latin date back to the 1700s, to the work of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. The dual-name system he devised is still in use today.
"The genus name groups together closely related plants that have enough in common. This name is always distinguished by a capital letter and is often a name in Latin, Greek or Arabic, or a 'Latinized' version of the person's name who discovered the plant. Example: Echinacea.
"The species is the plant's specific name, or epithet, which always appears after the genus, beginning with a lowercase letter. This part of the name usually is descriptive and tells something about the plant, such as its origin, habitat, composition or use. Example: Echinacea purpurea."
I typically ask my daughter to explain the plant tags -- so I know those four years of Latin aren't wasted.
Kathleen Cooke writes:
I always enjoy your articles in the Sunday Gazette-Mail, but I thought I ought to let you know about your advice (via Ros Creasy) in the July 3 edition, about planting currants! I'm sorry to tell you that currants, red, black or white, are not allowed to be imported into West Virginia. Gooseberries are also banned, but I know there are people here who have had gooseberry bushes forever! The reason for the ban is the danger of bringing a virus, which would compromise our native pines, I believe. I don't know how long it has been in effect, but I have tried for years to see if they were allowed -- to no effect! I love all currants and gooseberries so if the ban is ever rescinded, I will be first in line to order!
Sorry for the bad news!
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.