Blooming Lithops

My plant adventures include a desire to learn as much as I can about plant identification. Plant identification is not an easy game to play. This post is all about plant names and what they can tell you about the plant in question. Of course there are moments when you’ re at Lowe’s and the plant you love is marked “Green Houseplant”. That is a discussion for another post. Let’s, instead, dissect some popular plant names and figure out what the name says about your plant friend.

Botanical Nomenclature:

Botanical names are made up of two words. The first word is the genus name and refers the larger group that the plant belongs to. The second part of the name refers to the plants species and usually, but not always, points to some sort of physical characteristic about the plant. Botanical names are written with the genus capitalized and the species lower case, all in italics. Let’s explore a few terms that will help you in identifying some of the more popular species.

Glossary of Terms:

Scandent: Climbing. As in Philodendron scandens.

Orbicular: Approximately circular in outline, such as a rounded leaf. Example, Calathea Orbicufolia

Obtuse: Blunt or rounded at the apex. The sides coming together at the apex at an angle greater than 90 degrees. Example, Peperomia obtusifolia variegata

Tetra: Four

Spermatophyte: Plants reproducing by seed. Example Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (tetra meaning “four”, sperma meaning “seeded”)

Lyrate: Refers to a lyre-shaped leaf, for instance the beloved Ficus Lyrata

Tomentose:   With a covering of short, sometimes matted, wooly, soft hairs. Example, Kalanchoe tomentosa


I plant to update this list periodically as I learn and discover the meanings behind some of my favorite plants. If you would like to contribute drop me a line or simply comment below. Let’s build this list together.