Plant Taxonomy

IMG_1165The nursery is bustling with activity. Every day we are out potting up plants and filling the rows in the nursery. It’s still early for some plants, many are just beginning to emerge.The daytime and nighttime temperatures continue to fluctuate. Yesterday? It was a bit chilly! Thank goodness for the greenhouse!
One yearly task is labeling our plants. We prefer to stay with the latin name in order to ensure accuracy.If you’ve been to the nursery and ‘talked plants’ with Rick, you know that he almost exclusively refers to each plant by its latin name using the genus and species. In fact, because of his lifelong relationship and experience with plants and his work in propagating and sourcing out specific species, he rarely even knows the general or common name that most of us may apply to a plant. Many common names are used to describe more than one plant and this can be confusing when trying to refer to a specific variety. When wanting to key out a plant to accurately identify it, the latin is essential. However, often enough, as we continue to research a plant’s genetic origin and understand its relationship within a genus, the latin application itself may get changed. For example, Cimicifugas has been moved to Actaea, and Senecio aurea is now Packera aurea. To try and explain the reasoning behind all of this name changing I will include an informative article from Pacific Horticulture.
In the meantime, we’ll be outdoors sticking labels into plant pots and hoping the names don’t change before we’re through!

5 comments on “Plant Taxonomy

  1. I can see why you folks need to use the Latin names but I admit I get emotionally involved in some of the common names–I love the idea of Big Daddy and Squash Casserole hostas, for instance!

    • No doubt , Kerry…and we sell so many Hosta because people do love the common names of this genus …Tweeny Weeny Bikini, Striptease, Full Monty. We have a gardener friend who has a ‘naughty’ hosta garden, all with somewhat risky names! Love it. But then again, wouldn’t you just love to meet Adlumia fungosa (Climbing Fumitory or Mountain Fringe) in a dark cafe for some espresso???

    • Oh, Judy…the labeling of plants and how to come up with markers that last! The potted plants are no problem, we have a labeling machine for this and only have to type in the plant name and such. The specimen plants in the display gardens are a bit tricky…markers move, somehow disappear??? or the writing becomes unreadable. What we find works best are small wooden stakes, white paint on one end, and then marked. Not perfect but seems to do the job.
      Good luck with your plant labeling and let me know if you discover a foolproof option!

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