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Tell Me Why: People Named for Plants December 15, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Last night, I found myself thinking about people who are (intentionally or otherwise) named for plants. Given the importance of plants in our lives, I was surprised by how few names I could think of that plants and people share. Here’s my list: Rose, Rosa, Lily, Violet, Poppy, Fern, Holly, Ivy, Ash, Willow, Laurel, Linden, Olive, Olivia, Rosemary, Basil, and, as a surname, Bush, Flower, Birch, Berry, and Hawthorn(e).

That’s a pretty skinny list. Why aren’t girls named Forsythia, Peony, Goldenrod, or Daffodil? If people are named Holly and Ivy, why aren’t they named Mistletoe and Pine? If you can be named for an ash or a willow, why aren’t people named Maple, Oak, or Walnut?

Then there’s Rosemary. What happened to Parsley, Sage, and Thyme? And what about our fruits and vegetables? Where are Carrot, Lettuce, and Radish, or Plum, Apple, and Quince? (Well, maybe Quincy counts, but somehow I doubt it. If memory serves, that’s from the French and refers to a place, not a plant.)

What am I leaving out? I’m sure I’ve forgotten some obvious names, so please remind me. And any theories on why there aren’t more?

            ‘Til next time,