The general desire for some English name for the different plants described has been met so far as possible. All names in common use have been inserted, so far as they have come to the authors' knowledge, except such as were merely local, or where they were too numerous for insertion. An exception has also been made in a few instances where a common name, from its false suggestion, as in the name of Dog's-tooth Violet for Adder's-tongue, is calculated to mislead as to the nature of the plant. Where no previous names in common use could be found, the names given are founded on some characteristic circumstance of description, habitat, site or author.

In the first edition, many thousand popular names, compiled mostly by Judge Brown, were printed in the General Index only. In this edition, they are all carried into the body of the work in their appropriate places in connection with the descriptive text - a great convenience to those interested in plant-nomenclature. A few additional common names are given in this edition.

No similar compilation of American plant-names has been hitherto published in any other work. Many of them are not to be found in any general dictionaries. To the mass of the people they will afford, in connection with the illustrations, the readiest means of plant-identification.

The popular names are full of interest, from their origin, history and significance. Hundreds of them, brought to this country by the early English Colonists, are still in current use among us, though now obsolete in England. As observed in Britten and Holland's work cited below, " they are derived from a variety of languages, often carrying us back to the early days of our country's history, and to the various peoples who as conquerors or colonists have landed on our shores and left an impress on our language. Many of these old-world words are full of poetical associations, speaking to us of the thoughts and feelings of the people who invented them; others tell of the ancient mythology of our ancestors, of strange old medicinal usages, and of superstitions now almost forgotten."

Most of these names suggest their own explanation. The greater number are either descriptive or derived from the supposed uses, qualities or properties of the plants; many refer to their habitat, appearance or resemblance real or fancied to other things; others come from poetical suggestion, affection or association with saints or persons. Many are very graphic, as the western name, Prairie Fire (Castilleia coccinea); many are quaint or humorous, as Cling-rascal (Galium Aparine) or Wait-a-bit (Smilax rotundifolia); and in some the corruptions are amusing, as Aunt Jerichos (N. Eng.) from Angelica. The words Horse, Ox, Dog, Bull, Snake, Toad are often used as a prefix to denote size, coarseness, worthless-ness or aversion. Devil or Devil's is used as a prefix for upwards of 40 of our plants, mostly expressive of dislike or of some traditional resemblance or association. A number of names have been contributed by the Indians, such as Chinquapin, Wicopy, Pipsissewa, Wankapin, etc.; while the term Indian, evidently a favorite, is applied as a descriptive prefix to upwards of 80 different plants.

There should be no antagonism in the use of scientific and popular names, since their purposes are quite different. Science demands certainty and universality, and hence a single universal name for each plant. For this the Latin has been adopted, and the Latin name should be used, when only scientific objects are sought. But the vernacular names are a part of the growth and development of the language of each people. Though these names are sometimes indicative of specific characters and hence scientifically valuable, they are for the most part not at all scientific, but utilitarian, emotional or picturesque. As such, they are invaluable; not for science, but for the common intelligence, and the appreciation and enjoyment of the plant world. These names, in truth, reflect the mental attitude of each people, throughout its history, toward the plant kingdom; and the thoughts, suggestions, affections or emotions which it has aroused in them. If these are rich and multitudinous, as in the Anglo-Saxon race, so will the plant-names be also.

Usually the most common or the favorite plants have a variety of names; but this is noticeably otherwise with the Asters and the Golden-rods, of which there are about 125 species within our area, the common names of which, considering their abundance and variety, are comparatively few. The Golden-rods, without distinction, are also known as Yellow-weed or Yellow-tops; the Asters are called also Frost-weed, Frost-flowers, Good-bye Summer and by the Onandaga Indians, " It brings the Frost." A few like Aster ericoides have several interesting names, but most of the species in each genus resemble each other so much that not a quarter of the species have suggested to the popular apprehension any distinctive name; while other less showy plants, like the Pansy {Viola tricolor), the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), the Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens biflora), Bluets (Houstonia coerulea) and others, have a score of different names.

In compiling these names, reference has been made to numerous general and special botanical works, to our state and local Floras, to Hobbs' Botanical Handbook (pharmaceutical), to Beal's, Scribner's and Pammel's works on Grasses, to Sudworth's Arborescent Flora, to Britten and Holland's Dictionary of English Plant Names (London, 1886), and to the valuable papers of Mrs. F. D. Bergen on Popular Plant Names in the Botanical Gazette for 1892, p. 365; for 1893, p. 420; for 1894, P- 429, and for 1896, p. 473. Prof. E. S. Burgess has also supplied about 100 popular names not before noted that are in use at Martha's Vineyard and in Washington, D. C.; and Mrs. Horner, of Georgetown, Mass., and Miss Bartlett, of Haverhill, Mass., have each contributed some.