Thursday, March 13, 2014

Botany picture #145: Aesculus flava

Aesculus flava (Sapindaceae), Botanic Garden of Zurich, 2009. This species is a chestnut from North America. By the way, people sometimes get the specific epithets of trees wrong or, alternatively, wonder why the grammar is apparently wrong. After all, "-us" is a male ending but "flava" is female, right?

This has historical reasons. The old Romans considered all trees to be female by default. Bizarrely, even their word for tree - arbor - had a usually male form but was considered to be female. And this is how plant taxonomists treat the matter to this day. Regardless of the genus name, the specific epithet of a tree is female.

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