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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How To Pronounce The Botanical Names Of Plants

When I was taking the Master Gardeners course, the instructor said not to worry about wether you were pronouncing the botanical name of a plant correctly, because chances are the person you are talking to doesn't know either.

Sedum and Aeoniums in VanDusan Gardens

Fine Gardening has a pronunciation guide on their site. The best way to use it is to scroll down the list of plant names, clicking randomly on those you recognize and listening carefully to the way they're pronounced. Eventually it will stick in your brain.

However there is no substitute for conviction, even if your pronunciation is a little off, most plant people will understand what you are talking about, and if they don't you can always revert back to the plants common name, assuming that you know what it is.

5 comments:

  1. hahaha, i love this Melanie. In college we were introduced first time to the scientific names and it really is difficult in the beginning. We just assumed that the pronunciation of our teachers are correct, assuming that really is the correct Latin. Everybody seems to be using the same pronunciation, so they just stuck to mind. Now, when you said probably the one we talk to also doesn't know the real one, i am baffled and yes, that might be true. We were just using the same pronunciation in the university because that is the tradition of pronouncing them in our area. But who will say we are correct or wrong. Now I am going to your link, and thank you so much. e.g. R. quisumbingii. How is this? I heard a young person saying it as quisumbingi I (kisumbingi-ay), as in the last I is really emphasized the way we call ourselves as I!

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    Replies
    1. The Fine Gardening site says that the ii at the end of the word is pronounced ee eye, and I've heard it pronounced that way before. I don't know any rules on how to pronounce latin words, so I can only guess or imitate other people when it comes to pronunciation of latin botanical plant names.

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  2. I laughed at your comment that we're likely pronouncing names wrong anyway. I've seen a few conversations where each person is insisting they are pronouncing the name the right way. I've never taken latin so I haven't the foggiest clue about pronunciation, just copy others and hope for the best.

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  3. I've had a teenie tiny bit of Spanish and it has Latin roots so I usually use the same pronunciation rules on plant names. But, mostly, I use the common names. Nice link on the list though.

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  4. Melanie
    :) Scientific names are hard to remember!

    Re your comment, the truth is that I haven't been gardening for a while. Thankfully my succulents are growing well with an auto irrigation system... while I am busy with other things. Hopefully when I get over my busy period, I will be able to get back to my succulents.

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