This week we had an in-depth discussion on plant identification and the naming of plants. Plant-naming is perceived as complicated largely because of the use of Latin. Scientists use the global vocabulary of Latin to identify plants both accurately and uniquely. Having a botanical name means that a plant can easily be identified anywhere in the world.
Every plant belongs to a family, and its botanical name is made up of its genus, species and (where applicable) its cultivar/variety.
For example, in the family Papaveraceae, the poppy family, there are many different types of poppy:
California – Eschscholzia
Opium – Papaver somniferum
Flanders – Papaver rhoeas
Welsh – Meconopsis cambrica
Blue (Himalayan) – Meconopsis betonicifolia Franch.
Californian tree poppy – Romneya coulteri ‘White Cloud’
Oriental – Papaver orientale ‘Mrs. Perry’
So, Papaver orientale ‘Mrs Perry’ identifies one specific poppy which is a herbaceous perennial.
The genus name is like a surname, eg. Papaver (poppy), Erica (heather), Fagus (beech). This is followed by the species name, which provides yet more information, eg. orientalis (from the east); alba (white); sinensis (from China); sylvatica (of the woods). Lastly, if the plant has been cultivated or bred as opposed to discovered growing naturally in the wild, it has a cultivar/variety name, eg. ‘Mrs Perry’; ‘King Edward’; ‘Argentea Marginata’ (with silver margins). The genus name has a capital letter, the species name is in lower case and the cultivar name is in quotation marks with a capital letter.
The importance of using correct botanical vocabulary can be seen, for example, in the Rosaceae family, which contains not just roses, but trees, shrubs, perennials and biennials. Cotoneasters, apples, hawthorns and strawberries all reside within this group. Their flowers all have 5 sepals and 5 petals and are hermaphrodite (male and female parts on the same plant).
Here are some more examples of the botanical names of plants: Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’; Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’; Solanum tuberosum ‘King Edward’.
Jobs for the week:
- Emptying the large terracotta pots of summer bedding and removing sufficient soil so that plastic pots can be inserted, ready for bulb-planting.
- Planting up hanging baskets with sedums and reading up on more information and advice on growing sedums.
- Removing Libertias from their pots and dividing them. They were then replanted and fed.
- Pruning and re-shaping the Griselinia. Cutting the lower branches will raise the canopy and allow for under-planting later.
- Pruning the Hawthorn and endeavouring to give it a flat top haircut! It needs sharp lines to give it shape.
- Potting on plants in the greenhouse.
- Starting to sow hardy annuals in the greenhouse – eg. spinach and herbs.
- Sowing hardy annuals to produce white flowers for next summer – eg. Ammi majus.
- Dead-heading flowers in the Exotic Bed and generally tidying in preparation for our open morning next Friday in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
- Clearing out Lil’s Bed and digging it over in preparation for planting single colour wallflowers.
- Taking gourds off the birch structure near the shed and dismantling the whole thing.
- We picked a good amount of quinces from the tree.