latin for the accidental gardener

echinacea-sombrero-adobe-orange photo – l. fowler

Not often do gardeners have the opportunity to bring something back to life.

Latin is now considered a dead language, meaning it’s still used in specific contexts, but does not have any native speakers.

Many scientific names are constructed from Latin or Greek roots and in contrast to common names, a scientific name is the same in any language. Being the same on paper is not always the same in pronunciation and being a dead language leaves much to interpretation.

I have found myself with piers and hesitant to use the botanical or scientific name for a plant – in fear of being corrected (and I have been on many occasions) and although this smacks of an arrogance on the part of the person correcting – it is still a barrier for me and I am sure many a gardener. My intent with this blog series is to journey into the land of the dead and bring it to life for my readers and myself. I am using Latin for Gardeners, Lorraine Harrison, as my guide to 3,000 plant names – one a day!

word of the day

abbreviatus ab-bree-vee-AH-tus

To shorten: abbreviated, as in Bubdleja abrbreviata

photo – iNaturalist

Buddleja parviflora is large dioecious shrub or small tree endemic to much of upland Mexico, in forests at elevations of 750 – 3500 m. The species was first named and described by Kunth in 1818. it is not commercially cultivated.


  1. Kunth, in Humboldt, Bonpland, and Kunth. (1818). Nov. gen. sp., ed. fol. 2:284, ed. quar. 2:353
  2. Latin for Gardeners, Lorraine Harrison, University of Chicago Press

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