VIP: Very Important Plant Names!


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The naming of plants goes back to a system that was introduced by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné in the 18th century. Thus he created the basis for a uniform procedure (the so-called taxonomy of plants), according to which even today plants are named. The first name always designates the genus, the second the species and the third the variety. Of course Carl von Linnaeus was botanically immortalized and lent his name to the genus of moss bells, Linnea.

Prominent plant names are found in virtually every plant genus, species or variety. This is because a plant that has not yet been scientifically recorded may be named by the one who found it or bred it. As a rule, plants have a name that matches their outward appearance, refers to the place of discovery or pays homage to the patron of the expedition or the finder himself. Sometimes outstanding personalities of the respective time and society are appreciated in this way. Here is a selection of prominent plant names.

Prominent namesake of the story

Many plants owe their names to historical personalities. A large part is named after "plant hunters". Plant hunters are the explorers of the 17th to 19th centuries, who traveled to distant lands and brought us plants from there. Incidentally, most of our indoor plants were discovered by plant hunters in America, Australia or Asia and then imported to Europe. To name here, for example, Capitain Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who sailed from 1766 to 1768 as the first Frenchman the world. The accompanying botanist Philibert Commerson named the well-known and very popular bougainvillea (triple flower) after him. Or David Douglas (1799-1834), who explored New England on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society and found Douglas fir there. The branches of the evergreen tree of the pine family (Pinaceae) are often used for Christmas decorations.

The Bougainvillea is named after a French sailor

The Bougainvillea is named after a French sailor

The greats of history can also be found in the botanical world. The Napoleonaea imperialis, an idiosyncratic plant from the family of the Topffruchtgewächs (Lecythidaceae), was named after Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). The mallow plant Goethea cauliflora owes its name to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck, the first director of the Botanical Gardens of the University of Bonn, honored the great German poet.

Contemporary celebrities

Even today, celebrities for plant names godfather. Above all, rose varieties are often named after well-known personalities. Nobody is safe from them. A small selection:

  • 'Heidi Klum': The name of the German model adorns a filled, very fragrant pink bed rose
  • 'Barbra Streisand': A violet tea hybrid with an intense fragrance is named after the famous singer, and even a rose lover
  • 'Niccolo Paganini': The 'Devil's Violinist' was the eponymous name for a bed of roses in bright red
  • 'Benny Goodman': A dwarf rose is named after the American jazz musician and "king of swing"
  • 'Brigitte Bardot': A particularly noble rose, which blooms in strong pink, bears the name of the French actress and icon of the 50s and 60s
  • 'Vincent van Gogh' and Rosa 'Van Gogh': The impressionists owe even two roses their name
  • 'Otto von Bismarck': A pink tea hybrid bearing the name of the "Iron Chancellor"
  • 'Rosamunde Pilcher': The successful author of countless romance novels was eponymous for an old pink shrub rose
  • 'Cary Grant': A tea hybrid of very dark red is just like the well-known Hollywood actor.

Rose variety Brigitte Bardot

'Brigitte Bardot' is the name of this particularly beautiful, filled rose variety

In addition to the roses, orchids often bear the names of famous people. In Singapore, the orchid is considered a national flower and a designation as an important award. A Dendrobium species even received the name of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The plant has violet-green leaves and is very resistant... But Nelson Mandela or Princess Diana were happy about their own orchids.
An entire fern genus owes its name to the idiosyncratic pop star Lady Gaga. Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina wanted to honor their commitment to diversity and personal freedom.

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