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Why Latin Names for Plants?

Why does Northern Sunset use those confusing, scientific names for their plants?

You will find that in addition to their unique common name, all Northern Sunset Perennials have their Scientific, or Botanical Latin, name listed prominently. We understand that Latin names, with their genus, species and cultivars may seem very confusing. Not to mention their pronunciation!! It was confusing for us too, in the beginning.

However, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using scientific names. In truth, it is the only way to make sure you are getting the plant that you want. Latin is a universal language in the horticultural world. If you know a plant’s Latin name, you could order it from Russia and they would know what plant you want!

However, if you use the common name of, let’s say, Black-eyed Susan, you could get one of 5 very different plants. It could be either:

  • A biennial native plant that seeds prolifically, Rudbeckia hirta
  • Another native, Rudbeckia triloba, a perennial, also known as Brown Eyed Susan
  • A perennial, Rudbeckia fulgida speciosa, also known as Showy Coneflower
  • A cultivar, Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
  • A vine, Thunbergia alata
  • Or a daylily variety, Hemerocallis x Black Eyed Susan

We encourage you to be an informed consumer. By doing a little research, either online or by using a good reference, you can be sure that the plant you want is the plant you get. A good Internet search engine can be used with Latin and/or common names, and the result may give you a picture to boot. A good reference book is a great way to spend a cold winter evening by the fire, dreaming of the beautiful garden you will create in the spring.

And, by the way, the easiest way to figure out how to pronounce a scientific name is to remember that there are no silent letters, every one is sounded out