What’s in a Name?

  • lantana_involucrata_inflorescence

    What’s in a name? The “involucrate” of Lantana involucrata

    By / March 31, 2015

    My last post was about a nice little Florida native plant that I’m trying out (again) in the yard: Lantana involucrata. Now “lantana,” you’ll recall, in addition to being the name of a town not far from where I live, comes from the Latin for “flexible,” whatever that may mean when applied to these rather woody… Read more

  • muhly_grass_panicle_new_20111013

    No need to panic: it’s just the first few panicles of fall

    By / October 14, 2011

    Welp, it’s the middle of October and the first few panicles of the muhly grass in my front yard are beginning to show up, right on schedule: For those of you who may have forgotten your graminological terms, a panicle as defined by Walter Kingsley Taylor is A compound inflorescence consisting of branched racemes; the… Read more

  • moon-20110923-0517edt

    Equinox moon with rays

    By / September 24, 2011

    On the morning of the equinox, as I was fruitlessly attempting to capture an image of Mars near the waning crescent moon, I did manage to create a small mystery for myself with the digiscoped image of that crescent moon: This is Day 25 of the lunar cycle, which means there are only 4 days… Read more

  • heliconius_charithonia_20110902

    More action on the passionvine: Zebra heliconian

    By / September 2, 2011

    Florida’s state butterfly is supposed to be the Zebra Longwing: So designated by the 1996 Florida Legislature, it was written into the Florida statutes under the Executive Branch (Title IV), Secretary of State section (Section 15) as follows: 15.0382 Official state butterfly.—The Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius) is designated the official state butterfly. History.—s. 1, ch. 96-153. Section… Read more

  • Florida Word of the Day: Hastula

    By / March 8, 2010

    Today’s word is a botanical term, hastula, which I assume originates from the Latin hasta, spear. I can only assume it because I don’t know it for a fact. None of my desk references, not Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, not the “unabridged” American Heritage 4th edition, not even the venerable Oxford English Dictionary admit the term into the… Read more

  • Pro(toc)tista redux: the Phaeophyta

    By / December 11, 2009

    I’d already been planning a follow-up of my recent post on that oddball eukaryote kingdom, Pro(toc)tista, just to discuss a couple of phyla that interest me [the brown algae, which include kelp and seaweeds, and the Bacillariophyta, which include diatoms (if you were in and around swimming pools as much as I was when I… Read more

  • Florida word of the day: patronym

    By / November 17, 2009

    A reader commented on yesterday’s post about the use of the word patronym, which prompted me to look into the matter more closely. In my day job, I would have used the word “eponym” where the committee on ornithological names used “patronym.” After all, not only is there a problem with the etymology (patronymic, “Of, relating… Read more

  • Florida word of the day: Red-shouldered Hawk

    By / November 16, 2009

    Yes, I know it’s more of a bird of the day than a word of the day, but bear with me. My recent post about raindrops led me to venture into the realm of the compound word. With any such venture comes the inevitable discussion of the hyphen. And hyphens are a real bugaboo in… Read more

  • Florida word of the day: pickerelweed

    By / November 12, 2009

    In my day job, I spend a lot of time with my nose in dictionaries and style manuals. And today, while thumbing through Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition* (you see why in the trade we call it MW11), I ran across a headword (MW11 calls them “guide words”) that I actually know something about, and,… Read more

  • The gen(i)us of family names

    By / September 10, 2009

    Now that we have the 5 kingdoms of life straightened out (Bacteria, Protoctista, Animalia, Plantae, and Fungi), it’s time to move on in my explanation/exploration of scientific nomenclature. One of the things that had always puzzled me about the naming of things was how many different levels of organization there are. This burgeoning complexity is the… Read more

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