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The Names of Plants, 4th edition


Author: David Gledhill

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


Publish Date: March 17, 2008

ISBN-10: 521866456

Pages: 434

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

This book is intended for usebybotanists, gardenersandotherswhohaveaninterest in plant names, the manner and rules by which they are formed, their origins and their meanings. The evolution of our current taxonomic system, from its origins in classical Greece to its present situation, is dealt with in the first part. This presents an overview of some major aspects of resolving the earlier unregulated way of naming plants. It goes on to explain how the current system evolved, and the use of Latin as the universal, and often innovative, language for those names. It then treats the naming of cultivated plants, from the wild, produced by hybridization or by sporting, maintained only by vegetative means, in horticulture, agriculture or arboriculture, and perhaps differing only in single small features. These are subject to the botanical rules of nomenclature but also have their own set of international rules for the naming of garden variants. Both Codes (the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants) are explained.

The main body of the book has been considerably enlarged for this edition. It consists of a glossary of over 17,000 names or components of names. Each entry contains an indication of the source from which the name is derived. The components (prefixes or suffixes) are often common to medicine and zoology, as are many of the people commemorated in plant names, and where zoology interposes with botany (e.g. gall insects) the gardener will find these explained. Algae and fungi are not primary components of the glossary but many which are commonly encountered in gardening or forestry are included.

The glossary does not claim to be comprehensive but does provide a tool for discovering the meaning of huge numbers of plant names or constructing names for new plants. The author has included some of the views of other writers on the meanings of certain names but accepts that classicists may rue his non-use of diacritics.

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