Ever wonder what goes into the thinking of plant namers when they're deciding upon a name? Some plant names derive from physical characteristics: For instance, the "Cherry Parfait" rose has a cherry-colored petal. But names aren't always based on a plant's qualities. They can simply be named for people, too.
If the eponymous person's name lends itself to easy pronunciation as a plant name, that's fine. For example, Kerria is named after William Kerr, and the pronunciation of this plant name is about as easy as it gets: namely, KER-ee-uh.
But that isn't always the case, as I discuss in this article on bougainvillea, which was named after a person with a name whose pronunciation is hardly straightforward.
There's a similar problem with another South American native, the fuchsia. Only in this case, it's the spelling, not the pronunciation, that's a nightmare. "Fuchsia" was so named in 1693 after a botanist named "Fuchs." The vine is so commonly misspelled "fuschia" that many who should know better think that's the right spelling. But once you learn the derivation, you should always be able to spell the name correctly.
And don't get me going on "poinsettia."
You plant namers out there, I beseech you: Next time you consider naming a plant after a person, weigh carefully how well the projected plant name rolls off the tongue!
Read article: Bougainvillea