Changing Plant Names Durham NC

Sometimes as I read my gardening books and magazines I come across a Latin plant name followed by a parentheses that says another name the plant was formerly known by people in Durham as - which is often more familiar to me. Why do the plant namers do this to us?

Witherspoon Rose Culture
(800) 643-0315
3312 Watkins Road
Durham, NC
Products / Services
Animal / Insect Repellent / Deterrent, Catalog Merchants, Chemicals, Conifers / Evergreens, Drip Irrigation Supplies, Educational Books & Tapes, Equipment - New, Fencing - Deer, Fungicides, Garden Centers / Nurseries, Garden Markers, Garden Ornaments, Gardening Gloves, Gardening Supplies, Gift Certificates, Gifts & Accents, Gloves, Greenhouse Supplies & Equipment, Groundcovers, Hand Tools, Industry Supplies & Services, Insecticide, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Irrigation Supplies, Landsc…

Data Provided by:
Gunters Greenhouse
(919) 596-3592
4618 Angier Avenue
Durham, NC
Products / Services
Annuals, Aquatics, Bulbs, Chemicals, Conifers / Evergreens, Crop Protection, Ferns, Flowers, Garden Center Marketing, Garden Centers / Nurseries, Garden Ornaments, Gardening Companies, Greenhouse Growers, Groundcovers, Herbs, Horticulture Companies, Houseplants, Landscape Supplies, Mulch, Ornamental Grasses, Perennials, Pest Control Supplies, Plants, Roses, Seed, Seeds, Shrubs, Trees, Turf / Sod Farms, Turfgrass / Sod, Vegetables, Vines, Wildflower Seed

Data Provided by:
Clean Air Lawn Care of Chapel Hill
(919) 720-6396
serving Orange, Durham, and Chatham counties
Chapel Hill, NC

Data Provided by:
Southern States
(919) 942-1724
300 North Greensboro Street
Carrboro, NC
Products / Services
Annuals, Bulbs, Chemicals, Crop Protection, Garden Center Marketing, Garden Centers / Nurseries, Garden Ornaments, Groundcovers, Horticulture Companies, Irrigation Supplies, Mulch, Perennials, Pest Control Supplies, Plants, Portable Irrigation Systems, Roses, Seeds, Shrubs, Trees

Data Provided by:
Piedmont Feed & Garden Center
(919) 942-7848
4805 Nc Highway 54 W
Chapel Hill, NC
Products / Services
Annuals, Bulbs, Chemicals, Crop Protection, Garden Center Marketing, Garden Centers / Nurseries, Garden Ornaments, Horticulture Companies, Mulch, Perennials, Pest Control Supplies, Plants, Roses, Seeds, Shrubs, Specialty Products Companies, Trees

Data Provided by:
Red Mill Landscape & Nursery
(919) 477-8676
4517 Red Mill Road
Durham, NC
Products / Services
Garden Centers / Nurseries, Groundcovers, Horticulture Companies, Landscape Architects, Landscape Contractors, Landscaping Services, Perennials, Plants, Shrubs, Sprinklers, Trees

Data Provided by:
Res Viridis
(919) 399-6348
Calais Dr.
Durham, NC

Data Provided by:
Clean Air Lawn Care
(919) 597-0340
Serving the Raleigh NC area
Raleigh, NC

Data Provided by:
Green Energy Lawn Care
(919) 338-2667
Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

Data Provided by:
Garden Supply Company
(919) 460-7747
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC
Products / Services
Annuals, Aquatic Containers, Aquatics, Arbors / Arches, Arrangement Accessories, Baskets & Wicker Containers, Benches / Chairs / Tables, Bird Baths, Bird Feeders, Bird Houses / Nest Boxes, Bulbs, Business Services, Cactus / Succulent, Ceramic, Terra Cotta & Stone Containers, Chemicals, Clothing, Concrete Furniture, Conifers / Evergreens, Container Gardening, Containers, Containers - Decorative, Craft Materials & Supplies, Crop Protection, Decorative Planters & Urns, Display Structures, Ferns,…

Data Provided by:
Data Provided by:

Changing Plant Names

Provided by:

Sometimes as I read my gardening books and magazines I come across a Latin plant name followed by a parentheses that says another name the plant was formerly known as—which is often more familiar to me. Why do the plant namers do this to us?



Answer: Changes in long-established names are a nuisance for everyone and may seem difficult to justify—especially where a familiar name changes to something that is hard to remember and to spell, and even more difficult to pronounce. However, there are usually good reasons for the change.



The “principle of priority,” as it is known, has established that the first written description of a plant is taken as its valid name. Familiar names can therefore sometimes fall from grace as new information comes to light from ever more obscure places around the globe. Herbaria in libraries in the former Soviet Union are now being studied by experts and we are having to accept earlier names for some plant familiar to generations of gardeners. The “new” name may mean nothing to us and may be very hard for some of us to pronounce—try saying Allium przewalskianum quickly.



Another reason for name changes is that modern scientists are able to detect ever more minute differences (and similarities) in plant characteristics. This means that sometimes new plants must be separated into a new genus: our old friend Senecio ‘Sunshine’ became Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’, while the once-familiar genus Cimicifuga has disappeared into another genus, Actaea. As for the florists chrysanthemum, it was Dendranthema only to be returned to Chrysanthemum a few years later. Occasionally taxonomists run out of names and resort to using an anagram of an existing one: the genus Saruma has been created from the closely related Asarum.



Read more Q&A

From Horticulture Magazine