Interesting, funny, weird, e.t.c. plant names

Toquilla Palm – because, first, it isn’t a palm. Second, because I first knew it as Panama Hat Palm, and “Panama” hats are from Ecuador. Third, the genus name Carludovica means Charles-Louise, as it was named after King Carlos IV of Spain, and his queen Luisa.

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Plants get labelled with some weird common names quite often. My longtime favourite has been goutystalk nettlespurge for the species Jatropha podagrica, but today I discovered a new weird favourite - turkey tangle frogfruit for the species Phyla nodiflora.

What’s yours?

Lobularia maritima vs Heliotropium curassavicum

(reopened and posts merged from new topic)

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Gomphocarpus physocarpus, known as balloon plant on iNat has some very striking flowers and fruit. Taking a look at the taxonomy tab shows a bunch of very funny common names, at least in English. Here’s a link to what a local (to me) grower calls it.

Dracula vampira wins best scientific name


I do think that some of the Australian plant names are quite odd. Lilly-pilly, for example. No relation to lilies.


Lilly pilly!! I forgot about that one! I remember thinking the name was super funny/cute lol

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There used to be a counterpart thread for fungi names, but I think it has long since closed, and I don’t see it now.

Forest friend – Collybia dryophila. In what sense is it a friend? It isn’t one of the important edible mushrooms; on the contrary, according to the Peterson guide, “Reports vary. Not recommended – edible for some, but others are made ill by it.” And it is saprobic, so it wouldn’t be the trees’ friend either, in the way that a mycorrhizal species would be.

The story I’ve heard is that it started as “fogfruit” and then people felt like it needed an extra “r”—both “turkey tangle” and “fogfruit” referring to the plants growing in large, tangled mats, i.e. a fog of fruits rather than the fruits themselves being foggy.


Struthiola ciliata: The lady that passes by in the night. I checked another source, just to make sure it wasn’t a troll-name.

What if there are two trolls? :-)

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Given previous discussions in these topics:

As long as one troll is doing it somewhere other than iNat, so that it can be used as a primary source, it becomes an official common name, I guess?

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It was called Fogfruit for a while on iNat. When I inquired about that some years ago it was revised to Frogfruit. I assumed it was a typo at the time but apparently not, just a variation on the common name.

Gallant Soldier. I think it’s pretty obvious that the name is a pun – someone thinking, “What word or words in English kinda sound like Galinsoga?” And then the other species in the genus kept up the theme with different modifiers.

I find these two interesting, not because of the name in particular, but of what happened to them.

  • Zephyranthes drummondii - Drummond’s Rainlily
  • Zephyranthes chlorosolen - Brazos Rainlily

See, both of these plants used to be in the genus Cooperia. But it turns out…

The one currently named in honor of Drummond was not originally named for him. And then the one that wasn’t… used to be named after him.

Warning: Incoming pedantic-humorous rant. Please take lightly and with a laugh or two.

They changed the one with drummondii to not
Why. You decide that this rainlily is named after Thomas Drummond. No, in honor of Thomas Drummond. And then decide, wait no the other one is now named after Drummond. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST KEEP THE SPECIES NAME? It’s just a confusing thing for everyone involved. Go though an old book and see Cooperia drummondii and go “Oh yeah that’s probably Zephyranthes drummondii”
And then which one is the real Drummond’s Rainlily?
The new one?
The OG?
OK. Change the genus name. I’m fine with that. Genetic studies and whatnot, relationships between organisms, that’s taxonomy.
But pulling the species name out of one… and slapping it to the end of another…
…that is a recipe for pandemonium
Might as well name the other one drummondiana
At least then Drummond will now have two rain lilies named in his honor

I do admit that this bothers me, perhaps more than it should. Oh yes, another thing is that there are actually several Drummond botanists.

See, two of them! They were brothers! How will I know which botanist is being referred to? I suppose the rainlily (ignoring the nomenclatural toss-up) would honor both of them…
And wait, there’s still more:

And those two are botanists too! A whole hereditary line!

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Commelins and Commelina


Flower of Death