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Tip of the Week: Plant Names Show Origins

Sometimes you can guess a plant’s origin by its species name. These lists will help you decode the Latin names of plants to determine to where the plant is native.

These lists will help you decode the Latin names of plants to determine to where the plant is native. The names listed here are the "specific epithet," or the second part of a two-part species name, as in Agave utahensis.

Countries of Europe

anglicus England

austriacus Austria

belgicus Belgium or the Netherlands

bulgaricus Bulgaria

cambricus Wales

croaticus Croatia

gallicus France

germanicus Germany

graecus Greece

hispanicus Spain

italicus Italy

lusitanicus Portugal

scoticus Scotland

suecicus Sweden

Names From Asia

camtschaticus, camtschatcensis, kamtschaticus Kamchatka, Siberia

chinensis, sinensis, sinicus China

coreanus,koreanus, koraiensis Korea

hupehensis Hubei province, China

indicus India (often used more general to mean the Far East)

kansuensis Gansu province, China

kouytchensis Guizhou province, China

mandschuricus, mandshuricus, manshuriensis Manchuria

mongolicus Mongolia

napaulensis, nepalensis Nepal

setchuenensis, szechuanicus Sichuan, China

sibericus, sibiricus Siberia

thibetanus, thibeticus, tibetanus, tibeticus Tibet

Some American Names

alabamensis Alabama

arizonicus Arizona

arkansanus Arkansas

californicus California

carolinianus North Carolina or South Carolina

coloradoensis Colorado

floridanus Florida

georgianus Georgia

idahoensis Idaho

illinoinensis Illinois

kentuckiensis Kentucky

ludovicianus Louisiana

marilandicus Maryland

michiganensis Michigan

missouriensis Missouri or the Missouri River

nevadensis Nevada or the Sierra Nevada (California or Spain)

novae-angliae New England

novi-belgii New York

ohiensis Ohio

oreganos, oregonus Oregon

pensylvanicus Pennsylvania

philadelphicus Philadelphia

tennesseensis Tennessee

texanus, texensis Texas

utahensis Utah

virginianus, virginicus Virginia

Names Derived From Less Obvious Locales

aegypticus, aegyptiacus Egypt

aethiopicus, aethiopis Ethiopia; also used to mean South Africa

afer, afra, afrum; africanus Africa

anatolicus Anatolia, Turkey

asturiensis Asturias, Spain

atticus Attica or Athens, Greece

baeticus Andalucia, Spain

berolinensis Berlin, Germany

bonariensis Buenos Aires, Argentina

bucarius, bucharicus Bokhara, Turkestan

byzantinus Instanbul (formerly Byzantium), Turkey

calabricus Calabria, Italy

canadensis Canada or the northeastern USA

canariensis Gran Canaria or the Canary Islands

cantabricus Cantabria in Spain

capensis the Cape (of Good Hope), meaning South Africa

caucasicus Caucasia, former Soviet Union

cornubiensis Cornwall, England

creticus Crete

cyprius Cyprus

damascenus Damascus, Syria

etruscus Tuscany, Italy

fennicus Finland

florentinus Florence, Italy

fluminensis Rio de Janeiro

formosanus Taiwan (Formosa)

georgicus Georgia (Caucasus)

groenlandicus Greenland

ibericus the Iberian peninsula

illyricus Illyria (the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Dalmatia)

japonicus, niponicus, nipponicus Japan

libani, libanotis, libanoticus Lebanon

lusitanicus Portugal

lutetianus Paris, France

magellanicus the southern tip of South American, around the Straits of Magellan

monacensis Munich, Germany

monspeliensis, monspessulanus Montpellier, France

narbonensis Narbonne, France

norvegicus Norway

novae-zelandiae New Zealand

numiducus Algeria

oxonianus, osoniensis Oxford, England

pedemontanus Piedmont, Italy

pekinensis Beijing, China

ponticus Pontus, Asia Minor

ruthenicus Ruthenia, a region of Russia (and used more generally to mean Russian)

sabatius Savona, on the Ligurian coast of northwest Italy

sarniensis Guernsey, Channel Islands

siculus Sicily

sinensis, sinicus China

sitchensis Sitka, Alaska

syriacus Syria

valentinus Valencia, Spain

tarentinus Taranto, italy

tauricus the Crimea

yedoensis, yesoensis, yezoensis Tokyo

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