Today I am joining other garden bloggers for the monthly Garden Book Reviews graciously hosted by Holley from Roses and Other Gardening Joys. Click on the link to visit her blog to see some interesting books that other gardeners are reading.
I can't say that I have actually read Flora's Plant Names©2003 (no author listed, published by Timber Press), because it would be like reading a dictionary or a phone book. The book is simply a listing of plants by common names. Not by botanical names. It lists alphabetically a total of 20,000 names used around the world. The common name is followed by the botanical name and uses a double referencing system so that when a plant name has more than one word, such as 'Regal Lily', it is listed as 'lily, regal' and then again as 'regal lily' and the botanical name Lilium regale follows.
I'm not a horticulturalist, just an ordinary gardener. So although I know my plants by their common names, I
Writing my garden blog has helped to motivate me to learn the botanical names of my plants. And the book will serve as another reference source. But another reason I purchased the book was to use as a tool for identifying the names of plants for our local garden tour next spring. I have always volunteered as a docent, but now I'm looking forward to learning about plant names by serving on the Plant ID Committee. Many resources are used, including the internet and the Sunset Western Garden Book, which has long been a gardening bible for those of us living in the Western states.
(Here's a photo of our first gardening book, purchased in 1970. It had so much use over the years that we held it together with duct tape. We finally bought a new edition in 1988. After 25 years, perhaps it's time to upgrade again. Or not. I like that old edition, and both editions are probably considered vintage now!)
One of the fun things about reading gardening blogs is to see how common names of plants can vary from place to place and country to country. Trumpet vine, for instance, is the common name of several entirely different plants. To avoid confusion was why the system of using Latin based names was developed so that each plant has only one correct botanical name. But the common names are sometimes much more descriptive and fun. And it was fun reading the names of some interesting sounding plants such as 'cathedral windows' Calathea makoyana which also goes by Peacock Plant.
That certainly evokes a picture of a pretty plant.
I always wanted to have a plant named after me. The only listing in the book was for 'Dorothy's wattle,' which did not bring a pretty picture to my mind. Acacia dorothea is the botanical name, and I learned from an internet search that in Australia wattle is another name for acacia. Much better!
The publisher notes that "gardeners will find the book especially useful when looking for particular plants at nurseries and in seed catalogs, as they will be able to search by both common and botanical names." I realize that it's possible to find information about just any plant on the internet, but sometimes it's nice just to have a book in the home library as another reference.