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A Tail of Two Sedums

by Fern on February 17, 2012

in Succulents and Cacti

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Have you ever heard of the succulent called Donkey’s Tail? Perhaps you heard it called Burro’s Tail instead? There are actually two different but very similar succulents that are both called those names. Sedum morganum and Sedum burrito. Can you tell the difference between the two plants shown in the photo?

The reason I bring this all up is to highlight the importance of knowing the latin names of plants. If you really preferred Sedum morganium‘s pointier leaves (it’s the plant shown on the left) you would have to use the Latin to make sure that everyone knew that you were talking about the pointier Donkey’s Tail, not the rounder, stubbier, one (shown on the right–which is Sedum burrito). I know it can be hard to learn botanical latin, and I sure have flubbed the pronunciations at times, but as you grow as a gardener, you may find it essential to be able to communicate about exactly the right kind of plant. Botanical Latin helps you do that.

I’ll share a funny story about Latin pronunciations. Do you know the plant Coral Bells? It’s Latin name is “Huechera.” Since I live in Southern California, where we have a large Spanish-speaking population and a lot of cultural ties to Spain and Latin America, I am used to pronouncing words that look like Spanish with a Spanish accent. So, for the longest time I thought “Huechera” was pronounced “WAY-chair-uh.” Uh…no! It’s actually pronounced “WHO-kerr-uh.”

So…are you a Latin pro, or a n00b?

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