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Reviews of Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners

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Book Profile
Author (1): William T. Stearn
Author (2): Isadore L. L. Smith (preface)
Author (3): Brent Elliott (preface)

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: October 1992
Published by: Cassell
List price: $29.95
ISBN Number: 0304341495

Softcopy edition:
Publish date: November 2002
Published by: Timber Press
List price: $19.95
ISBN Number: 088192556X



  Garden Bookworm editor's notes:  
Hundreds of thousands of plants have been given botanical names of Latin form since Linnaeus instituted modern botanical nomenclature in 1753. Most of these plants interest only professional botanists; and no book of reasonable size can include more than a fraction of their names. However, gardeners work with fewer species, and the keen gardener comes to wonder at the meaning and origin of those Latin names with which he has become familiar. What useful information lies there? Of what interest are the personal names involved? What of the gardener's particular pleasure, noted in the seventeenth century by William Cole, 'to have the plants speaking Greek and Latin to him and putting him in mind of stories which otherwise he would never think of?'

In this book Professor Stearn gives the meaning and origin of some 6,000 botanical names, selecting those most likely to be encountered by gardeners and horticulturists. No other single source provides so much etymological information for the gardener, much of it out of he way, all of it enlightened by a wealth of detail, the result of years of scholarship and original research by the distinguished author. Also listed are 3,000 of the most widely accepted vernacular names, cross-indexed to their correct botanical names, an invaluable reference for gardeners, writer, and historians. Both the dictionary sections are prefaced by learned and entertaining introductions. Plant classification and binomial nomenclature are explained, and there are notes on the structure and pronunciation of botanical Latin. Extensive bibliographies direct the reader to recommended sources for further inquiry.

Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners is a substantial revision of the author's earlier work, A Gardener's Dictionary of Plant Names, published in 1972 and itself an enlarged and extensively revised edition of the very much smaller work by A.W. Smith, A Gardener's Book of Plant Names, published in 1963. The present book is dedicated to the memory of A.W. Smith, and will be an invaluable companion for the gardener for years to come - a book always at hand to be read, or dipped into for pleasure and entertainment, as well as instruction.

  Feedback History and Summary  
3 positives
No neutrals
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Positive Joan On Feb 20, 2007, Joan wrote:

I also have Stearn's Botanical Latin reference book, but I refer to this one quite often if I only need the spelling or meaning of a word. It's got a more complete dictionary than Botanical Latin does, therefore I've found that both books are necessary for my needs, and I quite often use them simultaneously.

Positive Miggy On Jan 22, 2005, Miggy wrote:

I could not live without this book. It is a blessing to boneheads like me who need to look up the spelling of everything before the write anything. I have his Latin Dictionary, and find this a 'handier' version. Both are fascinating staples of any gardeners library.

Positive PotEmUp On Dec 27, 2004, PotEmUp wrote:

A wonderful resource for the etymology of plants. An invaluable source for additions to BOTANARY.

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