Plants of the Castlemaine District

Plant Names

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The scientific name of most plants is in two parts e.g. Grevillea alpina. The first is the genus name, rather like the family name for people. The second part applies to a particular kind of grevillea, in this case, for the locally common Downy Grevillea. The names often are derived from the Greek or Latin languages, but no matter what source, are latinised. The scientific name has many advantages. The names apply world wide, no matter what the local language or alphabet is. Strict rules apply to how plants can be named, with the aim to ensure that a plant can have only one valid scientific name. Common names can lead to confusion. A plant can have many different common names, and the same common name can be given to quite different plants.

By convention, scientific names are printed in italics. The first letter of the genus name is capitalised, and the rest of the name is in lower case. Sometimes the species is subdivided into varieties or subspecies. These words are often abbreviated and are not italicised e.g. our local Yellow Gum is Eucalyptus leucoxylon subsp. pruinosa

Common names are not italicised. There are two conventions for common names. The first is to use only lower case. The second is to capitalise each word. I have followed this second convention. For example, Australia's floral emblem is Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha. The phrase "the golden wattles were in flower" means "the golden-flowered wattles [of undisclosed species] were in flower. And "the Golden Wattles were in flower" means "Acacia pycnantha was in flower".

It can help in remembering names to know what the name means. For many of the plants in this publication I have given the name's meaning. There are some common suffixes. for example
-ii or -i: Named in honour of a male, often the person who first discoved the plant e.g. Galium gaudichaudii.
-ana: named in honour of a male, often a botanist or patron. e.g. Aira cupaniana and Crassula sieberiana.
-iae: named in honour of a female. e.g. Lepidosperma curtisiae.
-ensis: native to a place e.g. Eucalyptus camaldulensis, first described from a tree growing in the monastery of Camaldoli