Botanical Epithets

My book, A Georgia Native Plant Guide, incorporates the Latin terminology of the plants so that there is no misunderstanding of the plant of topic. I grew up calling Forsythia “goldenrod” for as long as I can rememberâÂ?¦ and Forsythia is definitely not the Solidago “Goldenrod”. To make it easier to get a general idea of what a plant is like by deciphering its Latin botanical name, I’ve listed 50 of such epithets to be a guideline and perhaps perk an interest in pursuing more knowledge. I highly recommend browsing the small list of books and websites at the end of the list for more help.

Aborescens – tree like

Aestivalis, aestivale – of summer

Alatus, alata, alatum – winged

Albus, alba, album – white, pale

Angustifolius, angustifolia, angustifolium – narrow leaves

Aphyllus, aphylla, aphyllum – leafless

Aquaticus, aquatica, aquaticum – in water

Aristosus, aristosa, aristosum – bearded

Canadensis, canadense – Northeast American, Canadian
Clauses, clausa, clausum – closed

Coccineus, coccinea, coccineum – scarlet

Crinitus, crinita, crinitum – long haired

Diffusus, diffusa, diffusum – spreading

Dipterus, diptera, dipterum – 2 winged

Falcatus, falcata, falcatum – sickle shaped

Fistulosus, fistulosa, fistulosum – tubular

Flavus, flava, flavum – yellow

Floridus, florida, floridum – flowering

Fruticosus, fruticosa, fruticosum – shrubby

Geminatus, geminata, geminatum – paired, doubled

Glabra – hairless, smooth

Grandifolius, grandifolia, grandifolium – great leaves

Heterophyllus, heterophylla, heterophyllum – differently leaved

Humilis, humile – low growing

Incanus, incana, incanum – gray

Indicus, indica, indicum – Indian

Inodorus, inodora, inodorum – unscented

Laevigatus, laevigata, laevigatum – smooth

Laevis, laeve – smooth

Lyratus, lyrata, lyratum – lyre shaped

Maritumus, maritima, maritimum- of the sea

Maximus, maxima, maximum – largest

Minus, minor – smaller

Nivalis, nivale – of the snow

Officinalis, officinale – medicinal

Ovata, ovatum – egg shaped

Parvifolius, parvifolia, parvifolium – small leaved

Racemosus, racemosa, racemosum – with racemes, clusters

Rotundifolius, rotundifolia, rotundifolium – round leaved

Rubra, rubrum – red

Serrulatus, serrulata, serrulatum – small teeth

Stipulatus, stipulata, stipulatum – with stipules, blades

Strepens – making noise

Sylvaticus, sylvatica, sylvaticum – wild, in woods

Thyoides – citrus like

Tomentosus, tomentosa, tomentosum – hairy

Tripartitus, tripartita, tripartitum – 3 parts

Tuberosus, tuberosa, tuberosum – tuberous, a hump

Umbellatus, umbellata, umbellatum – in umbels

Viscosus, viscosa, viscosum – sticky

Plant Identification Terminology
by James G Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris
Spring Lake Publications (January 1, 2001) ISBN 0964022168,

Gardener’s Latin
by Bill Neal
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (March 1, 2003), ISBN 156512384

Botanical Latin
by William Stearn
Timber Press (April 1, 2004) ISBN 0881926272

Peter Bostock of Queensland Herbarium
free DOS program that will translate Latin plant names to English

Dictionary of Botanical Epithets by Chuck Griffin.
Highly recommended

Garden Gate
Glossary of Roots of Botanical Names

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