Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 9 January 2015

Puzzle Corner: What's in a Name?

Just before I started blogging, I began a distance learning planting design/RHS course. The facilities included a discussion room so we students could interact with each other no matter where we were.

8pm on Tuesdays soon became the favoured slot for those of us who'd started the course around the same time. The only topic I remember we talked about at length was getting to grips with Latin names. We all found it very difficult, but as we hailed from Spain, Sweden, Italy and France - as well as Britain - we agreed we needed to persevere so we all could understand exactly which plants we were talking about.

I soon dropped the course in favour of blogging (as I was learning more and having fun), but I've continued to persevere with Latin as it's so fascinating. There are a whole host of clues waiting to be unravelled, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and cryptic crossword combined. Solve the puzzle and you gain all kinds of insight about what the plant looks like, its origin, or even who discovered it.

I've had lots of fun putting together a botanical Latin quiz for the latest Puzzle Corner. It's in 2 parts, with this week's quiz covering A to M. Can you match the names with their meanings? I'll give you the answers next Friday - the pictures at the top of this post are examples from my garden to give you some clues.

Latin Name Meaning
aquifolius soft
balearicus flowering abundantly
cirrhosus hairy
dioicus from the Greek for milk and flower
Echinops/Echinacea with pointed leaves
floridus woolly
Galanthus like a rush
hirsuta from a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea
involucratus with tendrils
jonquilla having male and female organs on separate plants
kermisinus from the Greek word for hedgehog
lanatus having a circle of bracts around the flowers
mollis carmine or purplish red

Have fun and see you next week!


  1. Ha! I know fewer of these than I'd have guessed. Am working on figuring this out! :)

  2. OK, sussed it! I got two backwards and had to look up three.

    1. Hi Monica, good to hear it's exercised those 'leetle grey cells'. Plants in my garden was the starting point and I had a lot of 'Ooh I didn't know that' moments putting this together :-)

  3. I did Latin at school and am still not all over this! a really good reminder, thanks!

  4. It all makes so much more sense when you understand a bit of latin, every time I am reminded of this fact I promise myself I will learn more. And shortly after, this promise fades away in the pile of "things to be done".


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