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All the writing issues presented are the least to worry. The future pain in the ass, is the similarity between the headaches presented and trans genetic seeds and traditional farming. In my intercontinental humble opinion.

I completely bastardized every rule you talk about in a recent blog post... oh well!!!!

And let's not for get, it's now popular to group plants into a series for marketing reasons so you get things like the Oso Easy(tm) Roses or the Let's Dance(tm) series of hydrangeas. Then the name becomes: Hydrangea macropetala 'Robert' Let's Dance (tm) Moonlight.

You've got another rant about the MONEY part of all this patenting & cultivating.

What does it bode for landscapes of the future?

$%#@^&^*& are horrible new plants. They are patented, marketed & sold nationally/internationally. Magazines selling their ads write loving artcles about them. One of those writers told me the editor pushed the article, even after being told the plants don't perform well in landscapes.

Lecturing across the country I've seen @)(#$&@^$( in many landscapes. None look happy.

Bad plants, good marketing. There's a rant.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Common names have no real rules, so you can call them crepe myrtles, crape myrles, or crapemyrtles. It makes no difference.

I agree that the trademarked names are a pain, but I'm glad I'm not in the business where I'm trying to make a buck trying to convince folks that my new plant breed is oso much better than another.

For those who'd like more of the basics on plant names see:

I so agree with you rant, and especially with Tara.
It used to be the case that you propagated a plant because it was a good plant, not because it made money only.
Things have become so complicated that I find it hard to blame people who just use the common name. Anyway, what does 'Dynamite' or 'Let's Dance' tell you about the plant or the people who gave it to us?
Oh for the poetry of 'Buxton's Blue', 'Apricot Queen', a simple 'Purple Stem' or even 'Rubra Compacta' at least means something (once you get the hang of it)
By the way, smile anyway; you know the alternative.
Vincent Dunne

Don't forget to add the PPAF#1234 in the formal name. YUCK!

'Plant names' is one of our industry's major fragmentation points. How many names can a plant have? Geez.

Recently we took a data feed of botanical plant names from a retailer. Nearly 50% of the plant names were abbreviated - many misspelled - making the list nearly illegible by the data reader.

Our industry needs an ID# for each plant/cultivar so that databases can talk to each other with confidence.

Imagine the day that breeder, grower, broker, retailer and consumer all share CORRECT information about plants (including availability).

Steve Cissel

I think the fact that common names have no rules is the most confusing part of this whole issue. This is why I prefer not to use common names at all. If there are 10 different common names for a plant and 2 of them could as easily refer to a totally different plant, this does not lead to a good result for consumers and/or writers.

I think the folks doing all the breeding and new plant introductions are shooting themselves in the foot to a certain extent with all this cultivar plus trademark names and patent stuff. Yes a garden magazine and other publications have a certain obligation to get the name as detailed and correct as possible. Making it difficult for the writers is only going to cause problems.

Your average, even your passionate gardener, may not give a rat's ass what the real and true correct name is. They want to know a plant's growing needs, sort of, overall form and habit and if it is pretty. End of story. Very very few of them will wander into a nursery or shop online with an absolute specific patented, trademarked cultivar in mind. Close is usually good enough.

A huge swath of the gardening public doesn't even know the common names of things. The botanical nomenclature might as well be in Martian for them. Piling on cutesy trademarks and cultivar names is only adding to their overall state of confusion about plants.

Imagine if you will the hapless homeowner going into a nursery and asking the often knowledge free staff for Dynamite or the Tightwad.WTF!

I think it all depends on what you are writing and who your readers are. Sometimes it is just too complicated for its own good. Common names are a mess, with multiple duplications and many having no descriptive qualities at all. Scientific names are also a mess in that they are not a stable carved-in-stone system (with the lumpers and splitters among the taxonomists) and very few people follow the rules (Capitalize the first letter of the genus, lower case for the species, either italicize them both or underline them to set them apart from the non-scientific text...) Far to many of the names in either system make no sense in present day - plants named johnsonii??? So what if a Johnson was involved, it means little to me now; and plants named japonicus when they really came from China but were noticed in Japan first.

It's a losing battle. Too many people, too many interpretations of the rules...

The whole plant patenting gestapo thing smacks of Monsanto dominating the grain crops debacle. To me anyway. But what do I know, I still say Klem-a-tiss.

Nice rant, Dee. And I don't care what anyone says--I'm sticking with crape myrtle.

You have presented valid points, Dee, but I doubt it will change the way the breeders are naming their potential jackpots. I agree with Christopher, most of the buying public don't care about all those names. Like the Knockout Rose, they neither know, nor care about Radrazz.

Here's a real problem looming on the horizon. Let's say I have a nice crepe myrtle seedling in my garden. I can name it Lagerstroemia 'Dinamight.' A poor hapless gardener could see it at a garden center, confuse it with the trademarked plant, and buy the wrong plant. These silly names are doing no one any favors.

Latin names are useful, the seemingly meritless changes - such as the Coleus example are annoying... but the requirements for intricate naming systems on the buying side (or simply the every day gardener) seems like torture.... unless it come on the side of the professionals who are selling the plant. To help a nursery or garden center to be more reliable in supplying their customers with the proper names seems like a real service.

Some of this would benefit from Occam's Razor, methinks.

I enjoyed your post, Dee.

As quoted from Christopher C NC above: "Your average, even your passionate gardener, may not give a rat's ass what the real and true correct name is." Well, that's me! Crape Myrtle, Crepe Myrtle, Crape Myrtle!

I personally don't care, and I've been seriously gardening for some 17 years. My two close gardener friends also don't care.

Nice rant! My botany ecologist buddy/colleague argue about this all the the time. Me? I like common names. I think there's less confusion than we imagine.

Christopher C said it perfectly. Besides I get way more stuck on the pronunciation disagreements anyway!

Great rant. I confess I have fudged some of this and now I feel I am going to have to pull up my socks, but how do you get that little R or TM in a circle?

I worked for 32 years as a copy editor (later spelled copyeditor at my boss's insistence) at a university press. We published a number of books on gardening, wildflowers, etc. One author insisted that on one-word spelling for Bermudagrass, which looks silly, and St. Augustinegrass, which looks sillier (and note that he did allow a space after St.). This seems to be the new trend in the "scientific" standardization of common names, and possibly in the scholarly language in general, judging from my director's liking for "copyeditor." A bad trend in my opinion.

Thanks for passing along the tip on how to write "crapemyrtle." I just moved to Charlotte, where the tree in question abounds, and I've been writing it as "crepe myrtle." I now realize I was referring to a mythical tree made from either a gauzy fabric or some thin French pancakes.

Thanks for helping me to stop embarrassing myself.

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