Gardeners tend to divide easily into 2 schools: those who love colloquial plant names and those who insist on Latin. There’s some crossover, especially as new gardeners learn the lingo, but there’s a definite divide.
I love the descriptiveness of common names – bleeding heart, love lies bleeding, bluets – but I appreciate that the only way to be certain of what you are getting is to call it by its Latin name. So it was nice to find out that even in Latin, there are descriptive phrases.
For instance, if you want the Black-eyed Susan with fuzzy leaves, you want Rudbeckia tomentosa, because tomentosa means “downy”. Without knowing the common name of spotted deadnettle, you will know Lamium maculatum has spotted leaves. Unlike Lamium purpureum, which has purple leaves. Trifolium repens, white clover, makes it very clear it will spread.
The same Latin phrases get used over and over again. Mastering a few of these will give you a good clue about what you’re getting, even when the plant is not in flower or when you are ordering based on a catalog description. Get our your flash cards.