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Silly Plant Names


Pulmonaria 'Shrimps on the Barbie'

Plants have lots of names. Ideally they should have a latinate binomial, like Malus domestica. That’s the apple tree used for edible apples. Malus relates to the legend that Adam and Eve fell by being tempted to eat an apple. It almost certainly wasn’t what we call an apple nowadays but we call the genus Malus from the Latin mal (bad). The second part, the species, is domestica in this case – not surprising for a highly cultivated (and domesticated) plant. Many plants also have a variety name; for apples, that would be something like ‘Gala’ or ‘Braeburn’.

This Pulmonaria, which I photographed this morning, is also commonly known as lungwort. Apparently the spotted patterns on the leaves are reminiscent of diseased lungs (!) although I wonder if it looks more like what someone with unhealthy lungs might cook up. It wasn’t labelled for the species but it did give a variety name: ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’. Now that’s a silly plant name! A lovely looking plant though.