Wednesday, November 4th, 2009...12:00 am

Is it an Anthurium or a Spathyphylum?

Anthurium – Arum by Stellas mom

TheGardenLady received this question from Ellen:

I have a peace lily that blooms red instead of white and I wondered how rare this is, as I have never seen anything but the white blooming peace lilies?

Could you possibly have an Anthurium plant that has a red spathe or flower bract? A spathe is a modified leaf that looks like a flower The long-lasting, showy flower bracts come in shades of red, rose, pink, white and some other colors with a protruding pale yellow, tail-like flower spadix.  See here.  The name Anthurium comes from antho- + Greek oura a tail.

Mums spathyphylum - Peace lily by frans schmit

Mum's spathyphylum - Peace lily by frans schmit

The white spathe plant that is generally referred to as the Peace Lily is a Spathyphylum.  See here.  The Latin name Spathyphylum comes from the Greek -spathe- meaning bract and phyllon meaning leaf because the flowers are leaf like in shape.

Scientists and herbalists understood the need for systematic, reliable plant and animal identification and classification. This is so everyone is sure to know exactly the kind of plant or animal you are talking about. Over 300 years ago a scientist by the name of Linneaeus created a system of writing the names of plants and animals in Latin. All scientist around the world have pretty much accepted these Latin names because common names can change depending on where you live. For example, there is a darling plant we grow in the garden that has a common name of Snapdragon because if you were to gently squeeze the flower it has what looks like a mouth. If you were to live in Iran, I was told you would not call it a snapdragon but would call it a monkey mouth.The Latin name for snapdragon is Antirrhinum majus. Thus when scientists in the US and scientists in Iran talk about the Antirrhinum, they know exactly the plant they are talking about. The Latin name Antirrhinum comes from the Greek antirrhinon, from anti- like (from anti against, equivalent to) + rhin-, rhis nose and used in Latin.   See here.

Does this mean one should start learning Latin? It might be fun. And it is a fun challenge to learn the proper name for each plant you have. Go on- impress your friends. Let them know if you have an Anthurium or a Spathyphylum.

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