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L-R: Echinocereus engelmannii (Hedgehog cactus), Allium lacunosum var. davisiae (Davis's pitted onion), Viola douglasii (Douglas's violet), Gilia leptantha ssp. leptantha (Fine flower gilia), Cryptantha cinerea var. abortiva (Bownut cryptantha)

California Plant Names:
Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations
A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology

  • uechtritzia'na: named for Rudolf Friedrich Karl von Üchtritz (1838-1886), German botanist and entomologist. His
      father, Max von Üchtritz, conducted entomological and botanical studies, and no doubt this is where the young Rudolf’s interests began. He received his early education in Wrocław (Breslau) at the María Magdalena Lyceum and the Matthias Gymnasium, and then studied natural sciences at the University of Breslau from 1858 to 1863, where his botanical classes were mainly in systematics, plant geography and native flora, but terminated them in 1863 due to heart ailments, working subsequently as a private scholar in Breslau. He was largely known
    for his investigations of plants native to Silesia, although he also conducted botanical research in excursions to southern Moravia (1855), the central Carpathians (1856), Tyrol and neighboring areas of Bavaria, Switzerland and northern Italy (1858) as well as to Thuringia, Franconia and Saxony (1860/61). At the age of 23 he began to be afflicted with rheumatism and curtailed his travels in favor of communication. He corresponded with many other botanists in Europe such as Pierre Edmond Boissier, Alexander Braun, Elias Magnus Fries, August Grisebach, Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach, Veit Brecher Wittrock, Anton Joseph Kerner von Marilaun, George August Schweinfurth and Christian August Friedrich Garcke, and was described by them as 'the man with the long letters.’ He suffered more ill health throughout his lifetime which limited his writings, but he was the author of Botanische Excursion in die Central-Karpathen, Bemerkungen über einige Pflanzen der ungarischen Flora, and Zur Flora Ungarns. He gave valuable materials for Emil Fiek's Flora of Silesia, and made significant contributions to Plantae Romaniae by Ágost Kanitz. Adolf Engler purchased his rxtensive herbarium after his death and donated it to the University of Breslau, which also acquired his beautiful botanical library and manuscripts. He was honored with the genus name Uechtritzia. He was both born and died in Breslau.
  • uh'dei: named for Carl Adolph Uhde (1795-1856), German merchant and plant collector who travelled through Texas and northern Mexico 1849-1855 and wrote about natural features, Mexican political affairs and the history of Europeans in that area. He was born in Brandenburg into an old merchant family, and his father was the first Lord Mayor of Brandenburg. His younger brother was a merchant in Hamburg beginning his career in 1814, and his sister was married to a Consul in Buenos Aires. Uhde was married in London where he became established as a merchant, and his first four children were born there. From 1823 to 1835 he conducted business in Mexico. After moving back to the Stuttgart area where his youngest son was born, he established a museum for his collections acquired in Central and South America.
  • -ulentum/ulentus: a Latin adjectival suffix used to indicate an abundance of or a full or marked development of (e.g. succulentus, "full of juice" from succus, "juice").
  • Ul'ex: the ancient name of this or some similar plant. The genus Ulex was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
  • uligino'sum/uligino'sus: of swamps and wet places.
  • ulmifo'lius: with leaves like genus Ulmus.
  • Ul'mus: the classical Latin name for the elm. The genus Ulmus was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
  • -ulosa: this is a suffix which on some names does not seem to covey much difference from the same names with the -osa suffix, e.g. ramosa and ramulosa, "with many branches." More often though there does seem to be a slight difference as with strigosa, "bearing straight, stiff, appressed hairs" and strigulosa, "minutely strigose;" fruticosa, "shrubby," and fruticulosa, "somewhat shrubby and small;" lanosa, "woolly," and lanulosa, "minutely woolly;" spinosa, "spiny," and spinulosa, "minutely spiny;" and tomentosa, "covered with matted, woolly hair," and tomentulosa, "slightly tomentose." So perhaps the sense of this suffix is usually that of "slightly" or "minutely" or "somewhat." Most commonly there are names for which there appear to be only a single form of the name, like glandulosa, maculosa, villosa, tubulosa, dumosa, tuberosa, corymbosa, racemosa, tumulosa and many other examples.
  • ultraal'sa: from the Latin alsus, "cold, chilly," and ultra, "beyond, in excess." Michael Windham in Harvard Papers in Botany Vol. 11 Issue 1 (July 2006) says: "It is a strikingly distinct species that, when first encountered, elicited a response ("beyond cool") that we Latinized to form the specific epithet. Alternatively the name also reflects the geography on the 'SW side (beyond) of Snow Mt. (a cool place)'."
  • ultrama'fica: the word 'mafic' means 'of or pertaining to rocks rich in dark, ferromagnesian minerals,' so this name may imply that the species which bears it inhabits soils that derive from these kinds of rocks or are rich in these kinds of minerals.
  • ultramonta'na: possibly for high mountains.
  • -ulum/-ulus: either (1) a Latin adjectival suffix used as a diminutive (e.g. patulum, "somewhat spreading," hispidulus, "minutely or somewhat hispid"; dracunculus, "a small dragon," from draco, "dragon"; cardunculus, "a small thistle," from carduus, "thistle"), or (2) a suffix which indicates a tendency or action (e.g. pendulus, "hanging down," from pendere, "to hang"; convolvulus, "twining around," from convolvere, "to roll up, coil up, intertwine").
  • umbella'ta/umbella'tum: refers to the arrangement of the flowers in the inflorescence which arise in a head from a central point, i.e. bearing an umbel. Name derives from the Latin umbel, meaning "umbrella," or umbellatus meaning "equipped with parasols."
  • umbellif'erum: bearing an umbel.
  • Umbellular'ia: pertaining to umbels. The genus Umbellularia was published by Thomas Nuttall in 1842.
  • umbraculor'um: from the Latin umbraculum, "a shady place, bower, arbor," thus meaning "of shady places, bowers, arbors."
  • umbrat'icus: from the Latin umbratus, "shading, spreading over" from umbro, "to shade," and the suffix -icus, a Greek adjectival suffix indicating a state of belonging to, thus according to Jaeger's Source-Book of Botanical Names and Terms meaning "belonging to shade, belonging to seclusion."
  • umbrinel'la: from the Latin umbrinus, "darkened, shady," and the adjectival suffix -ella, which is a diminutive, thus meaning "slightly darkened."
  • umbro'sa: shade-loving.
  • unalascen'sis: refers to Aleutian Islands (Unalaska) where species was first found.
  • uncia'lis: one-twelfth, an inch, from Latin uncia, a twelfth, of unknown application.
  • unda'tus: waved, wavy.
  • underwoodia'na/underwood'ii: named for Lucien Marcus Underwood (1853-1907), American botanist and mycologist.
      The following is quoted from a website of the New York Botanical Garden: “Lucien Marcus Underwood was a botanist, educator, and founding member of the Board of Scientific Directors of the New York Botanical Garden. Underwood was born in New Woodstock, New York 26 October 1853. He obtained his M.S. (1878) and Ph.D. (1879) at Syracuse University. His doctoral thesis, later published, was The Geological Formations Crossed by the Syracuse and Chenango Valley Rail Road. During his graduate education he grew interested in the study of ferns (pteridology). In 1881
    he published Our Native Ferns and How to Study Them, the first manual of North American ferns. This, as well as Moulds, Mildews, and Mushrooms (1899), achieved a popularity beyond the audience of professional botany. Through the 1880s Underwood taught geology, botany, and natural science at several colleges and universities. Two notable appointments were Syracuse University (1883; 1887-1890) and DePauw University (1890-1895). At Syracuse he began to study the full scope of cryptogamic flora - the mosses, hepatics (liverworts), and fungi. With a Morgan Fellowship at Harvard University (1890) he studied the Sullivant and Taylor hepatic collections. Underwood’s authoritative publications on the hepaticae inspired an exhaustive study of the flora of North America, The Systematic Botany of North America (later known as North American Flora), that evolved into a major collaboration with Nathaniel Lord Britton and many American botanists. Beginning in 1892 Underwood served on the Committee on Nomenclature of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that drafted the "Rochester Code" of botanic nomenclature. The committee elected Underwood as the American delegate to the International Botanic Congress in Genoa, Italy, where he took part in the decision to set 1753 as the date for officially establishing botanical names. In 1896 Underwood succeeded Britton as Professor of Botany at Columbia University and joined the staff of the NYBG. He participated in botanical expeditions to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Rocky Mountains and was elected to the NYBG Board of Scientific Directors, and served as chairman (1901-07). He contributed a section on pteridophyta to the Britton & Brown Illustrated Flora, was editor of the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, and assisted in the founding of the Botanical Society of America. Underwood's life ended in tragedy when he took his life in 1907. His sudden death dealt Britton a personal and professional blow, leaving a void in the NYBG directorship. Despite this misfortune, Lucien Underwood is rightly remembered for his scientific accomplishments, his dedication as an educator, and his critical role as a founding member of the NYBG.”
  • undo'sus: same as previous entry, referring to the lower stem leaves which are said to be wavy on the margins.
  • undula'ta/undula'tum/undula'tus: wavy-margined.
  • un'geri: named for Franz Joseph Andreas Nicolas (Nicolaus) Unger (1800-1870), Austrian botanist, paleontologist
      and plant physiologist. He was born in Gut Amthof near the village of Leutschach in Styria, Austria. He began studying law at the University of Graz but in 1820 moved to Vienna to study medicine. In 1822 he was enrolled at the Charles University in Prague, but the following year he returned to Vienna and completed his medical studies in 1827. He practiced as a physician near Vienna and from 1830 as a court physician in Tyrol. He was named a professor of botany at the University of Graz in 1836 and also taught at the Joanneum (which became the
    Universalmuseum Joanneum and the Graz University of Technology). By 1850 he was professor of plant physiology in Vienna, and travelled in 1852 to Northern Europe and to the Orient. He retired in 1866 and lived the remainder of his life on a farm near Graz.  Wikipedia says: “Unger was one of the major contributors to the field of paleontology, later turning to plant physiology and phytotomy. He hypothesized that (then unknown) combinations of simple elements inside a plant cell determine plant heredity and greatly influenced the experiments of his student Gregor Johann Mendel. Unger was a pioneer in documenting the relationships between soil and plants (1836). Unger is notable for proposing a theory of evolution before Charles Darwin. Unger accepted the transmutation of species. During his time his ideas were widely criticized by those who held religious views. In his book Attempt of a History of the Plant World (1852) he devoted a chapter to the evolution of plants.” He died at Graz.
  • unguicula'ta: Latin for "little red nail or claw" referring to the unusual claw at the base of the petals.
  • uniarista'ta: from the roots uni, "one, single," and aristata, "bearded or furnished with an awn."
  • uniflor'a/uniflor'um: single-flowered.
  • unifo'lium: single-leaved.
  • unilatera'lis: one-sided.
  • uniner'via: with a single nerve.
  • unispica'ta: with a single spike.
  • urceola'ta: urn-shaped.
  • ur'ens: stinging, burning.
  • Urochlo'a: from the Greek oura, "a tail," and chloe or chloa, "grass," in reference to the awns. The genus Urochloa was published by Ambroise Marie François Joseph Palisot de Beauvois in 1812.
  • Uropap'pus: with the pappus having a long tail-like dip. The genus Uropappus was published by Thomas Nuttall in 1841.
  • Urosper'mum: from the Greek oura, "a tail," and sperma, "a seed," alluding to the tail-like beak of the seeds. The genus Urospermum was published by Joannes Antonius Scopoli in 1777.)
  • ursin'a/ursin'um/ursin'us: from the Latin ursus, "a bear," referring to one of a bear's favorite foods, or possibly a reference to being northern, i.e. under the northern constellation called the Great Bear.
  • Ur'tica: from uro, "I burn," alluding to the nettle's sting. The genus Urtica was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
  • urticifo'lia: having nettle-like leaves.
  • uruguayen'sis: of or from Uruguay.
  • urvillea'num: named for French navigator, naval officer, geographer and botanist Jules Sébastien César Dumont
      D'Urville (1790-1842). Dumont was born in Normandy and as a child he was often weak and sickly. His father died when he was only six, and his uncle, the Abbot of Croisilles, became his pseudo father and took charge of his education. Wikipedia says: “The Abbot taught him Latin, Greek, rhetoric and philosophy. From 1804 Dumont studied at the lycée Impérial in Caen. In Caen’s library he began to read the Encyclopédistes and the reports of travel of Bougainville, Cook and Anson, and he became deeply passionate about these matters. At the age of 17 years he failed the physical
    tests of the entrance exam to the École Polytechnique and he therefore decided to enlist in the navy.” He enrolled in the Naval Academy at Brest. At this time the French navy was blockaded in ports by the British. In 1812 he was promoted to ensign. He used this time to study languages and in addition to the Latin and Greek he already knew, he learned English, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Hebrew, and while taking long excursions into the hills above Toulon he learned about botany and entomology. In 1819 he sailed on a hydrographic survey of the Greek islands. The Columbia Encyclopedia entry on D'Urville reads as follows: "While on duty (1819-20) in the E. Mediterranean, he saw and recognized the importance of the newly discovered Venus of Milo and was influential in having the Louvre secure it. In 1822-1825, while serving on the Coquille, he surveyed the Falklands, Tahiti and other Pacific islands, and New Holland (W. Australia). In 1826-1829 he commanded the Astrolabe in a voyage around the world; searching for the ill-fated La Pérouse expedition, he explored Fiji and many other islands of Oceania, the New Zealand coast, and the Moluccas. With the Astrolabe and the Zelée he made a second circumnavigation in 1837-1840, and in 1840 he penetrated the ice pack south of New Zealand and discovered the Adélie Coast region in Antarctica." He brought back to France a very fine collection of animals and plants from one of his round the world voyages. He was eventually promoted to the rank of rear admiral and the Geographical Society awarded him their highest honor, the Gold Medallion. He was killed along with his wife and son in a train accident in 1842 near Versailles. One of the reasons for this tragedy was the French practice of locking people into their train compartments, a practice which after this was discontinued. A number of geographic localities are named after him and he named Adélie land after his wife, Adèle Pepin, the daughter of a clockmaker.
  • urvil'lei: see previous entry.
  • usitatis'simum: from the Latin usitatus, "customary, common, familiar," from usitor, "to use often, to be in the habit of using," and the -issimum suffix which conveys the sense of "most or very," thus this would be "most or very customary, common or familiar." Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names gives "most useful" as the meaning, but "most used" and "most useful" don't exactly have the same sense so I'm not sure about this.
  • usita'tus: see previous entry.
  • Uster'ia: named for Paul Usteri (1768-1831), Swiss physician, botanist, publicist and politician. He was born in Zurich
      and received his medical doctorate from the University of Göttingen. From 1789 to 1798 he worked as an instructor at the Zurich medical institute, and he was also overseer of the botanical garden for the Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Zürich (Society of Natural Sciences in Zurich). In 1787, with Johann Jakob Römer, he founded the botanical journal "Magazin für die Botanik". In 1790 he published the treatise "Delectus opusculorum botanicorum". As a taxonomist he circumscribed the plant genus Biondea (family Elaeocarpaceae). In 1793, the genus Usteria (family Scrophulariaceae)
    was named in his honor by Antonio José Cavanilles, but this name was considered illegitimate because of a previous publication. Following his botanical period and during the French Revolution, he turned his attention to politics and held various government positions in Switzerland until his death in 1831. In 1801 he was named president of the Helvetian legislative council, and he was also involved with the newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung which led progressive papers in demanding press freedom. In the latter part of the 18th century, Usteri tried to connect medical anthropology and popular medicine in a way that would make it interesting for the educated medical laymen. He died in Zurich. The genus Usteria was published by Carl Ludwig von Willdenow in 1790.
  • ustula'ta: burned, scorched, sere.
  • utahen'se/utahen'sis: of or from Utah.
  • uti'lis: useful.
  • Utricular'ia: from the Latin utriculus, "a small bag or bladder," the common name of which is bladderwort. The genus Utricularia was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
  • utricula'ta/utricula'tum: with a small bladdery one-seeded fruit, bladder-like.
  • -utum/-utus: a Latin adjectival suffix used to indicate possession (e.g. argutum, "sharply-toothed, possessed of teeth or notches"; cornutus, "horned, possessed of horns," from cornu, "horn"; acutus, "possessed of a sharp point").
  • u'va-ur'si: from Latin uva, "grape," and ursus, "bear," literally "bear's grape" referring to the fruit and to the fruits serving in the wild as bear food.
  • uvar'ia: from the Latin uva for a bunch of grapes.

Mission Creek Preserve, Morongo Valley
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