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Why correct plant terminology is important

A friend asked me recently how I remember the scientific, or Latin, names of plants. Well, I don’t, not really. I look them up when I am working on a column, and often forget them as soon as I have sent the article off to the Gazette-Journal. If I use a name several times, I eventually commit it to memory, but most of the formal terms drift away to some dark recess of my mind, until I need to dredge them up for some purpose. If I could remember every Latin name, I would have to spend less time searching for answers on Google.

Last summer, two pretty plants popped up in a corner of a bed in the front garden filled with hosta, astilbe, garden phlox (P. paniculata), and a lone hydrangea. The bed formed a right angle with a border of variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum sp.) and hosta. With bright green leaves and tiny, white, star-shaped flowers on gracefully arching spikes, the plants made an attractive addition to the intersection of bed and border. I decided to leave them alone a...

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