World-famous nomenclature expert, William T. Stearn, left a gap in the horticultural world when he died in 2001. Since publishing his first scientific paper at the age of 18, he has had an enormous influence in the botanical field and was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal, the Victoria Medal of Honour and a CBE. This is his definitive work on plant names and meanings for the everyday gardener. A vital reference work, he covers the meaning and origins of the most common everyday cultivated plant names, cross-referenced with some 3000 vernacular names to solve what is often a conundrum amongst gardeners. Full of amusing anecdotes related to the naming of plants, it is a fascinating insight into nomenclature and the clues they give to a plant's appearance: aureus - golden, azureus - sky blue, erubescens - blushing. They also give a sense of history with plants named after the discoverer or their patron - davidii - Armand David, knautia - Christopher Knaut and hookeri - Sir William Jackson Hooker. Greek and Latin mythology make appearances too as befits the horticultural mix of the two languages. A fascinating book to dip into and an important work that deserves a place on every gardener's bookshelf. - Lucy Watson
About the Author
William Stearn ((1911-2001) was librarian of the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library, senior principal scientific officer in the Department of Botany at the Natural History Museum and visiting professor in the Department of Botany and Agricultural Botany, University of Reading. In 2000 he was awarded the Asa Gray Award, the highest award of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.