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I'm afraid the proper name for a plant just rolls off my tongue Mike

If I know the plant the name is there.

A plant might have several common names. A common name might be shared by several plants.

The binomial system has one name for one plant

Orchid Lady

Why me Mike?  I know nothing  I know a few 'proper' names, usually plants that I have bought (eg Papaver Harlem or Geranium Himalayans...which is possibly wrong!) apart from that I know very few proper names.  I am trying but there is so much to take in and at the moment my brain is full with all sorts and I think my memory bit is full to the brim......I have had to resort to endless lists.  I'm not sure if that answers your question, if not I'll try again 

I agree with Dove. I suppose it's years of reading gardening books, listening to GQT and watching Gardeners World, but I find Latin names easier to remember than the myriad of common names which differ depending where in the country - or world - you are. 

Orchid Lady

My excuse is that I'm too young to know  But I am learning 


Names used to roll off my tongue. But nowadays they seem to roll off down behind the cushions at the back of my brain and get lost among the old bits of biscuit crumb.



I have been known to completely mix them up, but generally, with some things I grow from seed, there is no common name,so I like the descriptive Latin binomial system.

quercus_rubur wrote (see)

I agree with Dove. ..... 

You see, I've not posted yet but everyone on here's so clever that we know what the other's going to say 

And I agree with Quercus rubur and Nut, a bit of Latin from school means that the Latin names actually mean something to me (usually) and lots of listening to GQT and watching GW since the days of Percy Thrower, and of course, lots of reading of books etc.  means that the Latin names come to me just as easily if not more easily than the common names. 

Of course, I may well look it up to check the spelling!!! 

I think that with anything you are interested in and have a passion about you absorb the information and learn it without even trying. The names are just there, in my head! 

Orchid Lady

If there's room in your head potsandpansies, to a certain extent it do ends what else is going on.  I have a passion for my garden but some things just aren't sinking in right now.....doesn't mean I'm not interested though 


OL, I think you'll find there's all sorts of gardening stuff sinking into your head at the moment - it's just the recall that can be dodgy when you're really busy with children, work etc.

 I bet you'll find that when you're my age all sorts of stuff you're learning now without knowing it, will just trip off your tongue  

Orchid Lady

You might have a point there Dove, it is being stored until I have room in the useful part of my brain  Thank you 


I find that with brains there's infinite storage, it's the filing and retrieval that causes problems - just like with the DSS  


nutcutlet summed it up perfectly with his / her ( sorry, don't know ) post. Common names can change from county to county, country to country, but the "proper" name is accepted everywhere. Until the International Plant Nomenclature Committee decide it's wrong and we need to change it. 

Latin names roll off the tongue for me too.........used to,think it a little pompous but now it's natural ESP when a particular plant is required.

Nice post Mike.....made me chuckle. 

I too agree with Dove's next post 


I know quite a few names, can see them in my head but don't always have the confidence to utter them. I read somewhere I think it was MrT who said that if you pronounced a plant name with enough confidence and got it wrong the person you were speaking to would believe you were right  

Common names can elude me for example stachys who many call lamb's tongue, ended up being called lamb's ears, must because I've never stroked a lamb's tongue. 


I sometimes struggle to remember the common names....


From being a child I always had a passion for animals and especially birds.The beauty of that is the fact a British bird's name is pretty universal across the UK.For instance a Meadow Pipit is a Meadow Pipit in Northumberland much as it is in Devon. But plants are a different kettle of fish,well no a kettle of plants.You know what I mean though,there can be a dozen localised names for a native plant so Latin names have to be the way forward. I'm still very much a learner cos when I was younger I found plants really boring. They just sat there and grew and chasing a rare bird seemed so much more exciting. I'm pleased to say I'm now finding plants to be fascinating in their own right and hugely satisfying to grow 

It's an interesting question.  I actually didn't know there were English names for most of the plants we have in our garden.  I purchased them with the Latin names and that's what they're called in my head (although I can't pronounce them all!).  It was only until my OH asked me to speak in English when he asked what a certain plant was called that I realised.  They're always going to be Latin first in my head.

i have so much info in my huge brain, unfortunately it's all locked away in a safe at the back and i can't remember the passcode to retrieve it...