NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN AUGUST 20, 2005
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THAT PLANT? PART IV
BY JUDY SHULL-HIEBENTHAL
(Our guest writer
today is Judy Shull-Hiebenthal, a Seward County Master Gardener. We are
delighted that she has agreed to share with us her research about the
names of some common plants. . We are not able to do all of the plants
in one issue so part V will come later. Parts I, II, & III were
to be readers. We peruse the catalogs that arrive
from the Greek klema meaning "twig". These plants were
growing in many gardens all over the world before Linnaeus named them.
The most popular one is the purple “Jackmanii" named for
George Jackman who bred that cultivar in 1858. Americans tend to train
their clematis vines using lattice or growing them over mailboxes. The
British prefer more freedom and their clematis vines are undisciplined.
name for poppy comes from the Latin word "papaver".
Poppies were first noticed during the Napoleonic Wars of the 1800s.
They were the mysterious flowers that bloomed around the fresh
graves of the soldiers. Poppies grow best in freshly turned soil
for they need sunlight to germinate. The same thing occurred
again in World War I prompting the Canadian doctor John McCrae to write:
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses,
row on row...." Of the many common garden flowers once valued for
medicine, only a few remain in drug stores today. The poppy is
one of them. Only the Oriental poppy yields morphine and codeine.
Corn poppies do not.
flowers are named for the Greek word for "pea" as they belong
to that family. (However "fragrant peas" are poisonous.)
The "sweet" label comes from the scent. They were
discovered in Sicily in the 1700s by a Franciscan monk. The
original blossoms were small, purple, and sweet smelling. But
during early breeding cycles, the flowers grew in size but lost their
fragrance. Years later, those who prized the beauty of cottage
gardens revived some of the earliest varieties and fragrant sweet peas
made their comeback.
"lilac" comes from the Arabic "laylak” meaning blue.
The botanical name, Syringa, is from the Greek syrinx "a
pipe". The wood of both lilac and the mockorange were used by
the Turks to make pipes. Lilac plants were first found in Turkey.
They are cousins to the privet bush. Olives and lilacs are very distant
relatives; both generally outlive those who plant them. Early
settlers in America planted lilacs near farmhouse front doors, a touch
of beauty in a harsh land. They retain their fragrance even when
they die. The smoke from their burning wood is perfumed.
Lilacs are forever!
"foxglove" comes from fox’s glofa, (Old English) because
they do look like fingers in a glove. The plants are native to
Britain and other places in Europe. Foxglove plants came to
America in the 18th century and were grown as flowers and also used for
medicinal properties. Digitalis comes from both the seeds of the
plant and its dried leaves. Foxglove didn't grow as well in
American woodlands as they did in Britain. They are biennials that
self-seed profusely if they're happy where they're planted.
This plant is
among those "stolen" by plant collector Robert Fortune.
He roamed through China in the mid 1800s wearing peasant clothing
complete with false pigtail to collect lovely garden treasures. The
story goes that he avoided eating in public because he couldn't handle
chopsticks and feared the lack of skill would give away his disguise.
After the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 he made public many of the
flowers he'd taken. The bleeding heart does appear to be a heart
dripping, but upside-down, it becomes a "lady in the bath".
more information see:
"100 Flowers and How
They Got Their Names" by Diana Wells,
How Plants Get Their
Names by L.H. Bailey, Dover