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The Names of Plants

The Names of Plants
David Gledhill
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 426 pp., $45.00

As the author indicates, this handy guide to plant names focuses on "the manner and rules by which plant names are formed, their origins and their meanings." Consisting of two parts, the first section deals with how the current system of nomenclature evolved from its classical Greek beginnings. The author also points out the problems of dealing with vernacular or common names that tend to change over time and distance. He presents the rules of botanical nomenclature, including the appropriate gender endings for specific epithets, and the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. The remaining text contains an extensive glossary as an aid in finding the meaning of individual plant names. Though some names reflect aspects of individual plant morphology, others derive from the names of people connected with their introduction, serving as living memorials and reminders of horticulture heritage.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden