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.
As we grow older we get out of all patience with what are called common names. It has been the writer's luck to be a juror in several departments of the Centennial Exhibition, - amongst others "Legumes" and grains from foreign countries - in cases where it was thought his botanical knowledge might be of some service in determining what the different peoples were talking about. We all know, for instance, that the English "common" name of the Anagallis arvensis, is "Pimpernell," but there are Austrians and Hungarians in abundance who will stick you out in an argument that "Pimpernell" is Poterium sanguisorba. "Algaroba" we all thought was the Ceratonia siliqua, - and which receives from our people the common name of "St. John's bread," - but our experience at the Centennial teaches us that if you send to Spain or Portugal for "Algarobas" you may get a dozen different things. One thing we noted that whatever they were they were always Legumes - and perhaps the word is a generic - a common name, and not a specific one, as we have always believed. Again we find among Spanish leguminous products "Lupins" that are not of the genus Lupinus; and large numbers of Beans with very different common names by different growers.
In fact we found to our sorrow that the "common" names of the world were entirely too common for us, - and it was a great comfort to find in the magnificent collection of Baron Angelo Porcari of Palermo, that he had the botanical names to his labels, as well as the common ones. It enabled the judges to do full justice in tracing out the origin of the articles exhibited, and thus understanding from what they were " improved," and was thus regarded by the jurors as one of the most sensible and instructive of all the world's contributions.
We have a suspicion that "common" names made all that great trouble at the tower of Babel.