plant names

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by Treelover, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chicago USA
    Hi - I have always wondered, what does the term "false" mean in a plant's name, for example, Ural False Spirea or False Hinoki Cypress. Thank you.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,327
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    It is usually used to indicate that something isn't related to the plant whose name it shares. A bit of a cop-out by people who don't have the inventiveness to think of a distinct new name. Though having said that, Hinoki Cypress (more accurately so named, without the 'false') is a cypress (Cupressaceae).
     
  3. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chicago USA
    Thanks, Michael. That totally blows me away. It does not even make sense. Yes, in a land that cares so much about plant names, they could have given everyone their own name. Thanks again for finally clearing that up. - Treelover
     
  4. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Fraser Valley, BC.
    "False" in a common plant name usually refers to a look-alike. For example Maianthemum racemosum, a native North American plant which I am sure occurs in Illinois, has a common name "False Solomon's Seal". The original "Solomon's Seal" refers to a number of species of Polygonatum, many of which have herbal uses. These were so named in England & Europe. The related Maianthemum species were called "False Solomon's Seal" since they were similar in appearance, but actually different in their use and growth.

    Check-out "False Hellebore" (Veratrum viride) which I think should occur in Illinois, if you want another masquerader.

    "False Acacia" comes to my mind (Robinia pseudoacacia). This is a N. American tree which in some respects resembles the Acacia trees found in North Africa and around the Mediterranean. Named by settlers, explorers &/or when taken back to the UK, it got it's current common name. There are quite a few common names including the word "false" that arose that way. Interestingly, the Latin species name for this plant is "pseudoacacia", which also means "false acacia". There a number of "pseudo...something" botanical names when you start looking.

    I agree with Michael about the cop-out in naming. More so in the botanical names and horticultural introductions, one of which he uses for an example. These guys had lots of choices and time. They got to think about it before making up a brand new name. The common names of native plants probably arose our of convenience and a need to communicate sometimes important information (see False Hellebore above - extremely poisonous!) There's more of an excuse for laypeople.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
  5. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chicago USA
    Thanks, Lysichiton, for your informative reply. Robinia psueudoacacia was one of the trees I sold when I worked at a garden center. I guess "pseudo" in a name made more sense to me than "false" because I knew the meaning in the Latin name. Seeing "false" in the common name did not mean anything to me but now it does. Thanks once again.
     

Share This Page