Taxa Named After Christmas

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying Christmas. I thought it would be fun to see how many taxa have Christmas in either their common name or scientific name. When I search Christmas on iNaturalist under “Taxa”, there was ten pages worth of material! Interestingly, there are apparently two Christmas Berries if one looks at the suggestions list before pressing enter…

If I had to pick a favorite “Christmas Taxa”, I kind of like the Christmas Spider (Austracantha minax ssp. lugubris) It looks like a walking piece of coal. :joy:

Original observation by @flecksy.


one of the Christmas berries is South Africa’s Chironia baccifera

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Christmas lichen (Herpothallon rubrocinctum), of course. It was once elected as one of 100 most beautiful world’s lichens.


Christmas cholla here in the Southwest US. Although I think the red fruits are usually most abundant well before late December.

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Who could ever forget the Christmas Island Red Crab! Or any of the island’s namesake fauna, like the Christmas Island Frigatebird or Christmas Shearwater


I am fond of the Christmas fern. A little spot of bright evergreen for us in times of darkness and cold.


I love the other, more colourful colour form.

Where I live, their webs cover the fences all through December😊

Also native to my area is the Western Australia Christmas tree. I love seeing their flowers pop up all through the farms and bushland.

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Quite a few are named after locations that are named after Christmas, not species that are named after Christmas (or the time of year) itself, so that may well change your count, depending on whether you think the distinction is important.

For example, type in “Christmas Island” as your lead-in in the search box and you’ll see there are about 29 species are named after that place rather than after “Christmas” by itself.

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The Christmas Tree, Nuytsia floribunda, is one of my favorite taxa. Really interesting large parasitic plant. It’s one of the largest parasitic plants, if not the largest, in the world.

I’m hoping I get to visit that part of the world and see them up close and personal.

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Haha, yes, these are like Christmas grandchildren species (at least in the case of Christmas Island, which is named after Christmas).

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Christmas tree worms, Spirobranchus giganteus. Tube worms that have a feeding apparatus roughly looking like two colourful pine trees.


An example would be Natal (Portuguese for Christmas). So Natal grass, Natal plum, and Natal lily, although named after a place in South Africa, are also indirectly named after Christmas.

Then there is Star-of-Bethlehem, named after one of the prominent images of Christmas.

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(Note that Christmas Shearwater is named after a different Christmas Island than the one you’re referencing - Kiritimati, aka Christmas Island, in Kiribati)

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The only Christmas species I have personal experience of is Schlumbergera , the Christmas cactus; I have two cultivars on my windowsills. The larger is known in this house as the Perpetual Cactus, due to the proportion of the year it spends in flower, though ironically neither are flowering at the moment.


Today I caught myself wondering if anyone had ever observed a partridge in a pear tree.


on an estate with orchards and partridges bred for hunting?

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