This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The wretched names offered us so often as "English names," are no worse, to say the least, than some of the very hard words given to us by botanists, and all horticulturists are pleased when a really pretty " common " name becomes common enough to use. The "widow's night cap," or the "red hot poker plant," may be meaningless or unwieldy; but even they are merciful compared with some of the terrific things with which simple garden folks have often to deal. Let us hope to be preserved from all these extremes. A good botanist, the late Dr. Lindley, pointedly puts the case in the preface to the Vegetable Kingdom (edition 1853) :
" Since the days of Linnaeus, who was the great reformer of scientific nomenclature, a host of strange names, inharmonious, sesquipedalian, or barbarous, have found their way into botany, and by the stern, but almost indispensable, laws of priority are retained there. It is full time, indeed, that some stop should be put to this torrent of savage sounds, when we find such words as Calucechinus, Oresigenesa, Finaustrina, Kra-schenninikovia, Gravenhorstia, Andrzejofskya, Mielichoferia, Monanctineirma, Pleuroschisma-typus, and hundreds of others like them, thrust into the records of botany without even an apology. If such intolerable words are to be used they should surely be reserved for plants as repulsive as themselves, and instead of libelling races so fair as flowers, or so noble as trees, they ought to be confined to slimes, mildews, blights, and toadstools. All should be anxious to do something towards alleviating this grievous evil, which, at least, need not be permitted to eat into the healthy form of botany clothed in the English language.
No one who has had experience in the progress of botany as a science can doubt that it has been more impeded in this country by the repulsive appearance of the names which it employs than by any other cause whatever, and that in fact this has proved an invincible obstacle to its becoming the serious occupation of those who are unacquainted with the learned languages, or who, being acquainted with them, are fastidious about euphony and Greek or Latin purity. So strongly have we become impressed with the truth of this view, that on several occasions we have endeavored to substitute English names for the Latin or Greek compounds by which the genera of plants are distinguished. Upon turning over the later volumes of the Botanical Register many such instances will be found in imitation of the usual English words Hound's-tongue, Loosestrife. Bu-gloss, Soapwort. or Harebell, etc . . . If such English names are not universally adopted, it is to be suspected the circumstance is traceable to the indifference of the public to partial and inconsiderable changes, which are unseen in the ocean of botanical nomenclature.
That they are important must be admitted ; that the person most careless as to the difficulties of articulation would prefer to speak of a Fringe Myrtle rather than of a Chamselaucium, or of a Grit-berry than of Comarostaphylis, will probably be allowed on all hands ; and therefore we do not confess discouragement or failure, but would rather invite suggestions as to the more probable means of success where translation is neither necessary nor desirable in all cases. Many Latin names have from custom been adopted into the English language, and no wisdom would be shown in attempting to alter such words as Dahlia, Crocus, Ixia, or even Orchis".