After I produced this episode we were driving in the desert outside Bisbee, AZ marveling the silhouettes of viscid acacia and I realized I had written and jabbered about the winter silhouettes of deciduous trees and shrubs several times in the past… like every winter for 30 years. Oh well, the outlines of naked branches against our huge borderlands sky are glorious.
The photos are mine and taken of desert willows very near our home.
Oh, my pronunciation of the genus Chilopsis got me thinking; botanical Latin is not the language of the Roman Empire, the Latin that I endured for 2 years in middle school. The Latin that’s used to name organisms has been used in science since the middle ages…I know, science was studied in the middle ages?… Latin was the common language shared, the linqua franca and the organisms’ names were long rambling descriptions in Latin. Then a few hundred years later along comes Carl Linnaeus and the binomial system…2 names, a genus and a species for each organism. Thank you, Carl!
A couple more things; folks tend to pronounce Latinized names in their own language or vernacular. I swear I can tell if someone attended catholic church by the way they pronounce Latinized scientific names…they sound like they’re singing in Italian. And one last thing; there are a bunch of books about all of this. If you’re crazy serious then there is William Stearn’s Botanical Latin. Learn about reformed academic or traditional English pronunciations among other things and good luck to you! But for considerably more fun I recommend The Naming of the Shrew by John Wright. It’s really a fun read.
Now, aren’t you glad I mispronounced Chilopsis?