So many plant varieties grow in the United States that it would be a daunting task to learn all of their names. Perennials, shrubs, wildflowers and annuals all have scientific names derived from Greek or Latin, and they also have common names, some of which are very descriptive and helpful in remembering the plants' names. Plants are commonly named for animals, colors and scents, and some are named for musical instruments.
Lyre pod, or Lyrocarpa coulteri, are wildflowers that have the shape of the lyre, the stringed harp-like instrument played by the ancient Greeks. From the mustard family of plants, the lyre pod is a stalky perennial found in California and Arizona that is classified as a subshrub by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has starburst, thin-petaled, greenish-yellow flowers.
Trumpet-shaped, showy red flowers blossom from the scarlet bugler, or Penstemon centranthifolius, during the spring in areas with sandy soil. The plant is a herbaceous perennial that attracts hummingbirds because of its bright color and sweet nectar.
Desert trumpet, or Eriogonum Inflatum, are native to the desert southwest. Wispy stems are either straight or have bulbous, flared protrusions, which can resemble a wind instrument. The bulbous area of the inflated stems may be used by wasps to store food and to incubate larvae.
Botanist John Manning of South Africa named a rare flower the vuvuzela, or Moraea vuvuzela, after the horn instrument of the same name to celebrate the first-time hosting of the Soccer World Cup in South Africa. The tuneless, loud horn instrument was played by fans during games. The colorful flared flowers mass together, like the fans of the soccer games.
Violets are named in reference to the stringed instrument, the violin. The Sweet Violet, or Viola odorata, is a wildflower that grows throughout the Eastern and Western United States and is known for its delicate purple or white flowers that have lightly striped petals that resemble a stringed instrument. It is a lovely scented flower, which is used for herbal medicinal purposes.
The viola, or Viola tricolor L., which is commonly called the Johnny jumpup, has a small showy, pansy-like flower that has rounded dark purple petals behind bright yellow ones that have striped centers.
The trumpet flower is so-named for the trumpet-like shape of its flowers. The scientific name is Datura metal, but it has several common names: Angel's Trumpet, Datura, Horn-of Plenty and Trumpet flower. The flowers are large at seven inches long and white, yellow or violet. The plant grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet in rich, moist soil in warm temperatures and is poisonous to humans if ingested.
The USDA also recognizes another plant called the trumpetflower, or Gelsemium juss, that grows in the southern states and looks much like a daffodil with its trumpet-like protrusion in its center. It comes in various shades of yellow or white.
The trumpet creeper, or Campsis radicans, has tubular flowers that produce scents and nectars attractive to hummingbirds. The flowers bloom in pastel colors of yellows and pinks -- sometimes a variety of colors on the same petal. The deciduous plant grows on a vine and is slightly toxic if ingested.
- Palomar College; Wayne's World: The Curious Names of Wildflowers; W.P. Armstrong
- Teleflora: Flower Named for the Vuvuzela
- Garden Herbs: Violet or Pansy
- North Carolina State University; Datura Metal
- BeWaterWise.com: Penstemon Centranthifolius
- USDA National Resources Conservation Service: Trumpet Creeper
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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