Food of love

Well I never. Taxonomic nomenclature has, according to my course, three main purposes:

1. To identify

2. To summarise common characteristics

3. To imply relationships

This is all well and good and scientific, but it skips the ‘well I never’ moments that come from realising that a particular plant hunter (Douglas, Tradescant, Stewart, Adam) has given his name to varieties of a whole load of diverse species. Or the pleasure I have just derived from researching the origins of the latin name for raspberry – Rubus idaeus. From Mount Ida, where the gods apparently had a grand time to themselves (Hera, Zeus, Aphrodite…) gorging on love and fruit. And here I thought they were from Dundee. And another one – Fallopia japonica (Japanese knot weed) presumably so-called on account of the tubular shape of the stems. Apparently Fallopia was an Italian surgeon. Well there you go. The Gardener’s Latin book my sister-in-law Rose gave me for Christmas is a veritable garden of delights.

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