Mail Bag:
What's in a name?

Re: What's in a name?
I read with interest your article in Landscape Trades November/December issue. I have also heard the planet Jupiter used in place of the juniperus family of plants. I also overheard another contractor trying to use the scientific name for sumac, which came out as Rust typhina. Quite a few years ago, I mailed a list of perennials to a smaller trade nursery in Tennessee. When I made the follow-up call, reviewing the Latin names with the contact person, they asked me if a perennial was the Rheumatism Root. I did not know if I was dealing with a wholesale nursery or Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies.

Rick Coulson, Coulson Contracting Inc.

Dear Ms. Weerdenburg:
My main reason for writing this letter is to tell you what a wonderful editorial you wrote in this issue (November/December 1999, Landscape Trades) entitled "What's in a name?" We read so many volumes of publications each day and each month relating to the horticulture industry that one realizes somewhere along the line that too many of our members and readers have little knowledge or understand the importance of using proper botanical names in writing or discussing plant material that they deal with daily. You are certainly to be commended for the amount of information and a lesson well-taught in your one-page editorial. I won't go into all the details but it certainly reminded me of the lessons stressing the importance of using botanical names, thanks to Lois W. Paul and Dr. Everett Miller during my classes years ago at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Such a little amount in time and instruction was often spent in studying plant material names, but when the courses were ended, one felt great accomplishment in being so very knowledgeable about learning the importance of properly identifying and referring to all the plant material by their botanical names.

Sincerely yours,
J. Benjamin Williams
J.B. Williams & Associates, Plant Breeders & Horticultural Consultants
Silver Spring, Maryland

Your article, "What's in a name?"in Landscape Trades, November/December 1999 issue was wonderful. I was very happy to see the subject of proper botanical nomenclature addressed, at long last! For years, I have been railing about this. The confusion that arises from the use of common (local!) names is unavoidable. I make a point of telling everyone I meet who is becoming interested in gardening to do him/herself a favour and learn the botanical names for all plants, and to ignore their "common names." This is good advice, but there is one problem with it. Sales staff at retail garden centres seldom have any knowledge of botanical names. As professionals, we must place greater emphasis on the use of botanical names by everyone in the industry, thereby teaching the gardening public to do the same. The benefits that will come from this practice will be invaluable. We are members of a profession, and that profession has specific terminology. We must use it!
Thank you for the article.

Ellen Eisenberg, The Potting Shed
Toronto, Ontario