NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR OCTOBER 8, 2005
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THAT PLANT? PART V
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. This is the last in a series. Parts I, II,
III, and IV were printed earlier.)
to be readers. We peruse the catalogs that arrive
vigorous, carefree, hardy flowers are almost too good to be true.
Their botanical name is Hemerocallis from the Greek for "day",
hemera and kallos meaning "beauty". Even though each
bloom last for just a day, daylilies are robust producers and show color
for weeks at a time in summer gardens. There are over 40,000
registered varieties with new ones appearing each season.
Hemerocallis originally came from the Orient where the Chinese and
Japanese used them for food and medicine. Daylilies were also
cooked as a vegetable, sometimes dried, and roots were often pickled.
They have grown in America since colonial times.
was named by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed the
binomial nomenclature used to classify and organize plants. The
name comes from hydro, "water" and aggeion,
"vessel". The name applies to the cup-shaped fruits and
the fact that large hydrangeas may require ten to twelve gallons of
water daily in extreme heat. They came to Britain in the 18th century
with great fanfare. A special delegation met at the London docks
to 'welcome' the hydrangea and attended a breakfast reception in honor
of the plant! In the early days botanists were most puzzled when
blooms turned from pink to blue in acidic soil. They also found
it difficult to classify petals, sepals, and flowers of its showy flower
head. There are a hundred species of hydrangea.
The name for
peony comes from the healing powers of a physician-god of the Greeks,
"Paeon". Peonies had been used as a healing plant in the
Orient for centuries. How they came from China to Europe is not
known. But it was the Romans who introduced these flowers to Great
Britain. British gardeners used peonies for decorative purposes
only and when taken to America by settlers they were used in the same
way. Diana Wells says, "They can live for a hundred years or
more undisturbed and are the immortal remains of rural American families
whose farms were abandoned and whose houses have crumbled."
petunia comes from petun, a Brazilian term for tobacco, a petunia
cousin. It was sent to Europe from South America in the 1800s.
James Tweedie of the Glasgow Botanical Gardens had the purple
flowering variety sent to Scotland. A French governmental
official sent another variety, "night-scented petunia" to
Paris. It is from these two plants that all our modern hybrids
come. Despite the hybridization of petunias into singles, doubles,
cascades, stripes with frills and fluffs, they are likely to revert to
the original purple that Tweedie found in South America.
variety of geranium is called cranesbill because of its long seed pods
that resemble a crane's beak. It originally came from South
Africa. In 1772 Francis Masson sent a large number of plants to
Amsterdam. Fifteen years later there were so many geraniums that
botanists divided them into three families: cranesbills, erodiums (the
rock garden variety) and pelargoniums (the South African ones).
The name comes from the ancient Greek, geranos, which was a crane. That
evolved to geranion from a word for "leggy, long-necked bird".