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Reviews of Dictionary of Plant Names

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Book Profile
Author (1): Allen J. Coombes

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: February 1986
Published by: Timber Press
List price: $12.95
ISBN Number: 0881922943

Softcopy edition:
Publish date: March 1994
Published by: Hamlyn
List price: £4.99
ISBN Number: 060058187X



  Garden Bookworm editor's notes:  
Have you ever wanted to match a plant's common name with its botanical equivalent? Or wanted to know how a plant got its name and what it means? Or wished you knew how to properly pronounce the Latin names of your favorite garden plants?

The Dictionary of Plant Names is a guide that not only cross references common names to their Latin counterparts, but also details the origins, meanings, and pronunciation of each name.

Each genus name is followed by the suggested pronunciation, the family in which it is placed, and the derivation of the name (Latin, Greek, or other). Then the main garden use of the plants in the genus, e.g. herbaceous perennials, trees, etc., is listed. Many interesting facts come to light in the origin of the Latinate name, for example that Kalmia is named after Pehr Kalm, a Finnish student of Linnaeus. Each genus concludes with the common name and place of origin of the whole species, if applicable. Species are listed alphabetically under the genus with the same categories of information.

Allen Coombes is a botanist with a rich background in plant lore. His botanical expertise and extensive knowledge of plant history make this a fascinating, compact volume. It is the type of book one picks up to answer a specific question and keeps on reading out of curiosity and enjoyment. The Dictionary of Plant Names is one of Timber Press' perennial bestsellers for its information and entertainment value.

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Positive gardenmart On Mar 26, 2004, gardenmart wrote:

I like the Dictionary. It has a lot of common names for plants worked right into the list alphabetically and can give you a clue as to where to start to look. Nomenclature is emphasized at our flower show here in Boston and this book is an excellent resource. I also have Stearn's but I have had the Dictionary longer and use it more. If you are searching for plant names, be advised that there are a lot of plant name changes and you might have to refer to more than one source to find the most up-to-date name.

Neutral Terry On Jan 30, 2004, Terry wrote:

The layout of this book might work if you're casually browsing, and not searching for a specific epithet. Otherwise, know your genera or you'll be searching a looooong while.

It's a handy size, but in terms of ease-of-use and volume of information, it pales in comparison to Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners

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