This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We have had several inquiries lately about this matter. Unless one is very well versed in the ancient languages, it is best not to look for any "rules," but go at once to authorities. In regard to our native plants, Dr. Gray's Manual gives the pronunciation, and Loudon's Encyclopaedia most of those in general cultivation. The matter has excited the same attention in England recently as in our own pages. We give from the Gardener's Chronicle the following extract from its correspondence: "I note the remarks of your correspondents, 'W. P.' (p. 179), and ' Ebor' (p. 212). I had not forgotten to mention how the correct pronunciation of names is to be decided; there was no need for me to mention it. Obviously it is to be decided in the same way that correct spelling is decided at a spelling bee - so far, that is, as pronunciation can be communicated through the medium of the eye; namely, by reference to some great and recognized dictionary. In England, for pronunciation, we have Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Plants, published in 1829, a supplement following in 1840, and a second supplement in 1855. This massive and manifold book - contained, I should suppose, in all good reference libraries - has 3,337 generic names, and describes considerably over 21,000 species of flowering plants and Cryptogamia. Every name, both generic and specific, is accentuated, and though, possibly enough, there may be typographical mistakes, after making allowance for these it may be depended upon implicitly.
I think it will be found that the typographical errors are all or mostly corrected in the general index to the whole work. Individual botanists, erudite scholars, may, perhaps, find an accent here and there which they would dispute; just as at a spelling bee there are differences of opinion, even among the best informed, in regard to the orthography of certain exceptional words of doubtful etymology, upon which nobody can pretend to insist. But over 999 out of every 1,000 accentuations in Loudon all scholars and authors are willingly agreed upon - those, I mean, who abide by the system of pronunciation observed in England at the present day. Foreigners would probably object to a good many; with that we have nothing to do, in the absence of an absolute, immaculate, and unimpeachable standard of right and wrong, such as we can never hope to possess. For all the everyday and really useful purposes that a pronouncing bee would care to promote, we may reasonably be content with Loudon, and be glad of it. I thought that every one who took the slightest interest in botanical nomenclature and pronunciation would be perfectly well aware of the existence of Loudon's Encyclopedia, or I should have mentioned it in my little article.
That article, in some of its utterances, as all would see, was half playful. It was half playfully that I suggested the pronouncing bee, never supposing that any one would seriously set one on foot, though if anybody would take the trouble there can be no doubt that it would render good service. I proposed it, not for the learned, but for the sake of the scores of people who do not know how to pronounce ordinary and accustomed names; those, for example, who say Podoph'phyllum and Tragop'ogon. Just as the spelling bee, in the eyes of all sensible and practical people, is not got up to decide on the orthography of - '
Words that should only be said upon holidays
When we have nothing else to do.'
- but to show young men and young ladies the importance, if they would pass for 'educated,' of correctly spelling Fuchsia, aeronaut, acquiescence, and the rest of the common words in which so many at the bees fail miserably, so the pronouncing bee would address itself to Epacria, Polypogon, and the like."