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.

Product Details

$25.00  $23.00
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
September 21, 2012
7.0 X 1.0 X 9.0 inches | 1.55 pounds
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About the Author

Lorraine Harrison is the author of several books, including Inspiring Sussex Gardeners, The Shaker Book of the Garden, How to Read Gardens, and A Potted History of Vegetables: A Kitchen Cornucopia.


"For those who want a better understanding of plant taxonomy, Latin for Gardeners, by Lorraine Harrison, is a treasure."--Dominique Browning "New York Times "
"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
"Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated."--Martha Stewart Living
"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