How To Identify Plants At The Santa Rosa Plateau: Plant Names
- Common names are often beautiful and descriptive. Red maids, goldfields, milk maids, chocolate lily, etc.
- Common names are not unique. There are TWO rattlesnake weeds at the srp: Daucus pusillus and Chamaesyce albomarginata. There are SIX vinegar weeds just in Southern California.
The European White Waterlily (Nymphaea alba) has 15 different common English names, 44 French, 105 German, and 81 Dutch names, a total of over 245 common names!
- The same species can have many common names. Creek senecio, Bush senecio, Douglas' groundsel, Douglas' ragwort, Douglas' shrubby ragwort, Shrubby Butterweed, bush groundsel all refer to Senecio flaccidus var. douglasii.
- Worse, many plants do not have common names and many species share the identical common name.
- Common names often only work locally. Umbellularia californica is known as California bay in California, but Oregon myrtle in Oregon. You'd never know this was the same plant!
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 16 October 2003.