Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fun with scientific plant names

Long time no blog; not enough ideas what to write, too much else to do.

Just went through a big dataset of Asteraceae (daisy or sunflower family, also known as Compositae), and I realised how many silly scientific genus names there are. Some of the highlights:

Pseudobahia, Pseudoclappia, Pseudoconyza, Pseudohandelia, Pseudonoseris, and Pseudostifftia are, of course, all based on similarity to genera with exactly the same names only without the Pseudo-.

Similarly, I feel that Senecio, Dendrosenecio, Nemosenecio, Parasenecio and Sinosenecio betray a certain, let us say, lack of imagination in naming members of the Senecioneae tribe.

Erato sounds odd but was apparently one of the Ancient Greek Muses. No idea whether the genus Oblivia has a similarly defensible etymology though.

Damnxanthodium is perhaps the best. Xantho- means yellow, and as can be imagined 'damn' is neither Ancient Greek nor Latin. It is an obvious reference to the American abbreviation DYC, which stands for Damn Yellow Composite, in other words the complaint about so many of them looking pretty much alike. A zoologist counterpart is apparently LBB for Little Brown Bird.

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