Category Archives: common names

Two Scotsmen and a tree

The story of Scottish botanists Archibald Menzies, David Douglas, and the tree that bears both their names is a good example of the challenges of establishing either a binomial name or a common name for newly observed species. (Incidentally, the name Menzies is pronounced “MING-iss.”) The tree is the Douglas fir, common in the forests of western North… Read More »

Who names things?

Most of the time, names arise mysteriously out of the collective creativity of language. Common names for plants and animals are a very rich source of information about them and their history of interaction with humans. One inspiration for this blog was a desire to learn where names like wormwood, sassafras, and lungwort came from. However, they have… Read More »