Herb Basics: Understand Genus Names Better

| March/April 1998

In Herbs for Health, we include two names in italics after most common plant names. These names are part of a system called binomial nomenclature, which is Latin for “two-name designation,” and they tell you first, the genus, and second, the species of the plant.

We include these names ­because many different plants are called by the same name, such as ginseng, which includes the relatives Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Ginseng can also mean Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus, also called eleuthero), which has comparable uses to Asian ginseng, but which, as the Latin name indicates, is a completely different genus and species.

Taking the wrong herb means that you may not get the effect you’re looking for: Asian ginseng is considered “warming and invigorating” and effective for boosting energy, athletic performance, and mental sharpness; American ginseng is considered more “cooling” and better for supporting the adrenal glands, regulating metabolism, and increasing fluids. (For more information, see “Ginseng: Facts and Folklore” on page 34 of the March/April 1997 Herbs for Health.)

Another reason we use Latin botanical names is that a single plant can have many common names. Did you know, for example, that Echinacea pallida has also gone by the names purple coneflower, Kansas snakeroot, red-sunflower, hedgehog coneflower, and droops?

Source: Coffey, Timothy. The History and Folklore of North American Wildflowers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds