Friday, June 6, 2014

what's in a name?

There’s an often-overlooked orange flower growing in local fields this time of the year that might be having an identity crisis. 

Locally it’s called butterfly weed but in various regions of North America it’s known as Canada root, chigger flower, Indian paintbrush, Indian posy, fluxroot, orange milkweed, orange swallow-wort, tuber root, pleurisy root, silky swallow-wort, yellow milkweed, white-root and windroot to name a few, or rather, to name a lot.

Botanists call the plant Asclepias tuberosa (uh-SKLEE-pea-us too-ber-ROW-suh). Asclepias comes from the name of the Greek god of medicine: Asklepios; and tuberosa, means “full of swellings or knobs,” referring to the enlarged root system. So in affect, it’s scientific name means “Greek god full of swelling”? Honestly, isn’t that a lot to lay on a poor plant?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My mother told me that a weed is a plant where you don't want it to be. I feel that if it blooms and it is not cultivated, it's a wildflower.

It's good that names include a significant adjective that is obvious when you see the plant again. So They're Orange Butterfly Milkweed to me.

We used to see another orange flower when we first moved to Sevier county. The Canada Lily I believe it was, but we haven't seen them for quite a while. It may have been Blackberry Lily. Hope to see them this year.