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What's in a Name

I have some Nigella damascena growing in my yard. The plant also is known as love in a mist or devil in a bush. Lots of plants have unusual names like these. Where do they come from?

Common names are often based on the plant’s physical characteristics, uses or founder. Sometimes someone spots an interesting feature in a plant, shares the name with others and, over time, it becomes accepted.  Common names can be nationally recognized or limited to a region or local area. That’s why horticulturists use botanical (scientific) names, which are recognized by gardeners and professionals around the world.  Botanical names also can tell you something about the plant. For instance, Nigella comes from the Latin word “niger”, which means “black”, referring to the plant’s black seeds. Damascena means “of Damascus”, indicating the plant’s Mediterranean origin.


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