Amo, Amas, Amat
May 31 2020
I love, you love, she (he) loves. There, and you thought Latin was hard. To me it’s poetry. The Latin names of plants tell you more about that plant and they’re really fun to say. Like arctoshaphylos uva-ursi, commonly known as bearberry or kinnikinnik, found all over the world and in the mountains of Montana. Arctos, Greek for bear, and staphylos, for bunch of grapes, which it’s berries resemble, and uva from the Latin for grape and ursus for bear. Apparently bears do eat them especially when they come out of hibernation. This makes me wonder if they do it on purpose to clean out their urinary system as it is used by humans for treating urinary disorders. I was told by a wildlife biologist that bears do indeed eat plants medicinally-they eat green gentian when they wake from hibernation to clean out their digestive system. But I digress, I just wanted to say arctostaphylos uva-ursi.
One of my favorite flowers is Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, a perennial sunflower whose name is from the Greek helios ‘sun’ and anthos ‘flower’, not to be confused with the annual sunflowers ‘helianthus annus’ which also has a cultivar named Lemon Queen. Also not to be confused with Heliopolis or Helianthemum!
Consider this: the aster family (asteraceae) is sometimes called compositae and they are jokingly referred to as DYC’s or damned yellow compositaes because they are such a large and confusing family. So not to worry, just start reading the Latin names, sooner or later a few will stick and you can sound ever so knowledgeable spouting Latin.
When I first bought a Helianthus, a six inch pot with three slender stems sticking up, I had no idea what a treat I was in for. It got larger every year: perennials, first year they sleep, second year they creep, and third year they leap-until it became a six foot tall and four foot wide mass of lemon yellow two to three inch daisy like flowers, hundreds of them. The clump was by this time about two feet across so I cut it in two and planted one on each side of my front gate. Late that summer when it bloomed I discovered why that was probably not a good idea. Bees like those flowers as much as I do, everybody had to run a gauntlet of bees to get through the front gate. Though this doesn’t particularly bother me, I can see how it could be a little unnerving. Especially since the bees are at eye level. Oh well, learn something new everyday. After a hard frost ended the flowers, I dug them up and moved them. I did put them by the fence again, so I could tie them up. They can get a little floppy. Nothing is perfect.
Here’s another one for you: cerastium tomentosum, just because it’s fun to say.
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ perennial zone 3, family Asteraceae
Helianthus annus- annual sunflower, family Asteraceae
Helianthus maximilliani- North American native perennial, family Asteraceae
Heliopolis helianthoides, false sunflower, family Asteraceae
Helianthemum, rock rose, family Cistaceae