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Latin for Gardeners

Over 3,000 Plant Names Explained and Explored

Since Latin became the standard language for plant naming in the eighteenth century, it has been intrinsically linked with botany. And while mastery of the classical language may not be a prerequisite for tending perennials, all gardeners stand to benefit from learning a bit of Latin and its conventions in the field. Without it, they might buy a Hellebores foetidus and be unprepared for its fetid smell, or a Potentilla reptans with the expectation that it will stand straight as a sentinel rather than creep along the ground.

An essential addition to the gardener’s library, this colorful, fully illustrated book details the history of naming plants, provides an overview of Latin naming conventions, and offers guidelines for pronunciation. Readers will learn to identify Latin terms that indicate the provenance of a given plant and provide clues to its color, shape, fragrance, taste, behavior, functions, and more. 

Full of expert instruction and practical guidance, Latin for Gardeners will allow novices and green thumbs alike to better appreciate the seemingly esoteric names behind the plants they work with, and to expertly converse with fellow enthusiasts. Soon they will realize that having a basic understanding of Latin before trips to the nursery or botanic garden is like possessing some knowledge of French before traveling to Paris; it enriches the whole experience.

See sample pages (PDF format).

224 pages | 200 color plates | 7 x 9 | © 2012

Biological Sciences: Botany, Natural History



"For those who want a better understanding of plant taxonomy, Latin for Gardeners, by Lorraine Harrison, is a treasure."

Dominique Browning | New York Times

"Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated."

Martha Stewart Living

Latin for Gardeners is useful, surprising, and beautiful—an accessible dictionary for everyone who puzzles over botanical identifications, an opportunity to get better acquainted with the extraordinary discoverers and namers of so many of our favorite plants, and a treat for all who enjoy the art and lore of the garden.”

Jane S. Smith, author of The Garden of Invention

"I have several books dedicated to Latin plant names but none fall into the category of Lorraine Harrison’s book which is not only informative but entertaining and beautifully illustrated. This is no dull list of Latin plant names—it is a book which begs to be picked up and looked at."

The Reckless Gardener

Table of Contents

How to Use This Book
A Short History of Botanical Latin
Botanical Latin for Beginners
An Introduction to the A–Z Listings
The A-Z Listings of Latin Plant Names
A from a- to azureus
B from babylonicus to byzantinus
C from cacaliifolius to cytisoides
D from dactyliferus to dyerianum
E from e- to eyriesii
F from fabaceus to futilis
G from gaditanus to gymnocarpus
H from haastii to hystrix
I from ibericus to ixocarpus
J from jacobaeus to juvenilis
K from kamtschaticus to kurdicus
L from labiatus to lysimachioides
M from macedonicus to myrtifolius
N from nanellus to nymphoides
O from obconicus to oxyphyllus
P from pachy- to pyriformis
Q from quadr- to quinquevulnerus
R from racemiflorus to rutilans
S from sabatius to szechuanicus
T from tabularis to typhinus
U from ulicinus to uvaria
V from vacciniifolius to vulgatus
W from wagnerii to wulfenii
X from xanth- to xantholeucus
Y from yakushimanus to yunnanensis
Z from zabeliana to zonatus
Plant Profiles

Plant Hunters

Baron Alexander von Humboldt
Sir Joseph Banks
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Francis Masson and Carl Peter Thunberg
John Bartram and William Bartram
David Douglas
Carl Linnaeus
Jane Colden and Marianne North
Sir Joseph Hooker
André Michaux and François Michaux

Plant Themes

Where Plants Come From
Plants: Their Shape and Form
The Color of Plants
The Qualities of Plants
Plants: Their Fragrance and Taste
Numbers and Plants
Plants and Animals

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