L-R: Bahia dissecta (Ragged-leaf bahia), Erigeron breweri var. breweri (Brewer's fleabane), Heuchera caespitosa (Urnflower alumroot), Packera ionophylla (Tehachapi ragwort), Mohavea confertiflora (Ghostflower)

California Plant Names:
Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations
An Annotated Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology
Compiled by Michael L. Charters

  • zacaen'sis: of or from the area of Zaca Lake in Santa Barbara Co. This taxon was named by Alice Eastwood from a collection made there.
  • zaleuc'us: very white.
  • Zannichel'lia: named for Giovanni Girolamo Zannichelli (Gian Girolamo, Giovanni Gerolamo) (1662-1729), Italian botanist, physician and pharmacist. He was born in Venice. After his first training in Modena, he went to further studies in Venice and in 1684 was at the Collegio degli Speziali, a well-known educational institution of pharmacy. Beginning in 1686 he built a successful apothecary business in Venice, and In 1702 was awarded a medical degree. He made many trips to explore the natural history around the Adriatic Sea, building an important natural history cabinet in Venice. Among his works are Istoria delle plante. He was in contact with prestigious scholars of the time, such as the famous Florentine botanist Pier Andrea Micheli, naturalist Antonio Vallisnieri, Italian anatomist Giovanni Battista Morgagni, and Veronese pharmacist Bartolomeo Martini. In 1701, Zannichelli published Remediorum Chymicorum, a compilation of more than 100 remedies of animal, vegetable and mineral components. Aside from botany, he was also very interested in paleontology and minerology. In 1710 he made excursions to the mountains of Vicenza and Verona, collecting numerous fossil shells, plants and fish. A year later, he presented these findings together with other pieces from Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Savoy and other provinces of Italy for the first time publicly. This was followed in 1712 by another exhibition in which the focus was on crystals, stones and minerals, which came from Saxony and other parts of Germany, from Bohemia, Hungary, Norway, from the islands of Corsica and Elba and from Tyrol and Italy. He was the leading scholar of his time of the flora of the Venice region. The genus Zannichellia was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus.
  • Zantedesch'ia: there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the person for whom this genus is named. Many internet sources like PlantzAfrica, FloralArtMall, University of Vermont, Pacific Bulb Society, Whatcom Horticultural Society, University of Florida, Cornell University, Wikipedia, David Hollombe and so on, report that it honors Dr. Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773-1846), an Italian physician and botanist from Verona, and author of Descrizione dei funghi della provincia di Brescia (Description of the Fungi of the Province of Brescia). Other internet sources and published references including my Sicilian friend Umberto Quattrocchi, Philip Munz's Flora of Southern California and Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names, list it as being named for priest and physicist Francesco Zantedeschi (1798-1873), Professor of Physics at Padua and a person who conducted electrical and light experiments, but this does not appear to be the case. One website and the Jepson Manual even list Francesco Zantedeschi with the birth and death dates of Giovanni Zantedeschi. David Hollombe has uncovered the fact that the earliest papers published by Francesco Zantedeschi date from 1829, whereas Giovanni Zantedeschi's published papers date from 1814-1829. This is possibly significant because the name Zantedeschia was given in 1826 by Kurt Polykarp Joachim Sprengel (1766-1833) at a time obviously before Francesco Zantedeschi had published any papers, although this is far from conclusive. Another clue I have uncovered that may be revealing is that Sprengel was the author in 1807 of An Introduction to Cryptogamous Plants (a group which would include the bryophytes and fungi), and as the above reference to Giovanni Zantedeschi's work indicates, he also was interested in fungi, and this may have been a connection between them. Another factor is that when the genus was published in 1826, Giovanni was around 53 while Francesco was only around 28, so that weighs in for Giovanni. Giovanni Zantedeschi was an important Italian physician and botanist, born in Molina and educated in Verona and Padua, where he graduated with honors, in medicine and surgery. He completed his training in Verona, and practiced his profession for some time in Tremosine (Province of Brescia) and subsequently in Bovegno, until his death in 1846. He published ten works on the flora of the province of Brescia and maintained a correspondence with Kurt Sprengel who apparently named the genus in his honor.
  • Zappan'ia: named for Paolo Antonio Zappa, 19th century Italian merchant of Milan and owner of a botanical garden with exotic plants. The genus Zappania was published by Joannes Antonius Scopoli in 1786.
  • Zauschner'ia: named for Johann Baptista Josef Zauschner (1737-1799), a professor of medicine and botany at Prague. The genus Zauschneria was published by Carl Bořivoj Presl in 1831.
  • zebrin'us: striped.
  • Zelt'nera: named for Louis Zeltner (1938- ) and Nicole Zeltner (1934- ), Swiss botanists, biosystematists and evolutionary biologists who specialize in plants of the gentian family and have greatly contributed to the systematics of the genus Centaurium and related genera. The genus Zeltnera was published by Guilhem Mansion in 2004.
  • zieg'leri: named for Louis Bence Ziegler, Jr. (1905-1984). The following is quoted from the Sep. 6, 1984, San Jacinto Register: "Louis Ziegler, local botanist, paleo-botanist and former curator of the San Jacinto Museum, died Aug. 31 in Hemet Community Hospital. He was 79. Intensely interested in the flora of this region, Ziegler was concerned about preserving the unusual species found in the area. He worked with the late Dr. Philip A. Munz, Director Emeritus of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont until his [Munz's] death in 1974. Ziegler collected botanical material for Munz, bringing elusive specimens that showed new distribution ranges of plants indigenous to the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains. His help was acknowledged by Munz in his 1974 book, A Flora of Southern California. A number of plants Ziegler discovered were named for him. Listed in Munz's book as having been discovered in the region is the tidy-tip (Layia ziegleri) [now named L. platyglossa], growing in the meadows of Garner Valley. Near Kenworthy, Ziegler found a peculiar form of chia (var. ziegleri now considered part of the taxon Salvia columbariae). Ziegler found the Kenworthy region to be the southernmost station for the box elder (Acer negundo var. californicum). Ziegler and his wife, Nell, moved to Diamond Valley from Sierra Madre in 1939. They have lived in San Jacinto since 1963. Beginning in 1958 as Curator of the museum, Ziegler continued in that capacity until 1981 when illness forced him to resign. He was especially proud of the museum's display of plant fossils he found in ancient lake sediment formations in the Poppet Flats area at the north edge of the Soboba Indian Reservation. Ziegler's discovery was recognized in a book on display at the museum, Pleistocene Soboba Flora of Southern California, written in 1966 by Daniel Axelrod, a paleobotanist from the University of California, Riverside. The display of bird shells in the museum was also collected by Ziegler. 'One of nature's most beautiful forms,' he said of the shells. It was Ziegler who formed the display of tracings of Native American pictographs and petroglyphs he took from originals in areas around the valley. 'Louis was very well versed in the history of the valley and studied in depth all the Indians of California, their culture, language and crafts. He influenced many young people and received letters to prove it,' Mrs. Ziegler said. By occupation, Ziegler was a photographer."
  • zier'ii: named for John Zier (?-1793?).
  • Zigaden'us: derived from the Greek zygon, "yoke," and aden, "gland," referring to the pair of glands on each tepal of the type species. The genus Zigadenus was published by André Michaux in 1803.
  • zi'kae: named for Peter Francis Timothy Zika (1957- ), American botanist and naturalist. He was born in Detroit. His father was an MIT engineer from the Czech Republic and his mother was a Countess from Poland. He received an undergraduate degree in botany from the University of Vermont in 1983. He began his professional work documenting and improving the collections of Vermont flora, in particular that of alpine flora. A genealogical website maintained by Elonka Dunin provides this information: “[Zika] was the first person since Cyrus Pringle in the 19th century to certify the occurrence of many of the rarer species at high altitudes in Vermont, and there are several thousand sheets of mounted Zika material in the Peter F. Zika Collection at the Pringle Herbarium. [He] is currently a botanist at the University of Washington in Seattle, conducting research on how plants lure animals into dispersing their seeds. In the Pacific Northwest he conducts botanical inventories of National Parks and Nature Conservancy preserves, studies interactions between noxious weeds and native wildlife, and teaches wetland plant identification. He also often serves as a ship’s naturalist on various expeditions, which has enabled him to study the plantlife of other regions from Antarctica to the Amazon basin.” He has produced a Flora of Crater Lake National Park.
  • Ziza'nia: from the Greek zizanion, an ancient name for a wild weedy grain that typically grew among wheat crops. Wikipedia adds this: "Wild rice, also called manoomin, mnomen, Canada rice, Indian rice, or water oats, is any of four species of grasses that form the genus Zizania, and the grain that can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in both North America and China, but eaten less in China,where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable. Wild rice is not directly related to domesticated rice (Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima), although they are close cousins, all belonging to the tribe Oryzeae." The genus Zizania was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and is called wild rice.
  • Ziz'iphus: one source says from the Persian name zizfum or zizafun, the reason for its application unknown, and another source says from zizouf, the Arabian name for Zizyphus lotus, a shrubby deciduous tree of the Mediterranean. Pliny apparently used the Latin name Zizyphus for the jujube-tree. The genus Ziziphus was published by Philip Miller in 1754.
  • zizyphoro'ides: like genus Ziziphora, a genus in the Lamiaceae named by Linnaeus in 1753 which was based on a plant the Rev. Hutchinson sent to Robert Morison from Aleppo which had the Arabic name zizifarane.
  • Zollikofer'ia: named for Caspar Tobias Zollikofer (1774-1843), Swiss pharmacist and naturalist. He was born
      in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and studied medicine in Zurich and Halle. In 1794 he received a medical doctorate and became a member of the Swiss Society of Corresponding Physicians and surgeons, continuing his education in Edinburgh. In 1797 he returned to St. Gallen and was appointed secretary-general of the administrative chamber. After the dissolution of this chamber in 1802, he devoted himself to medical duties. He also held offices on the Medical Council as well as the Canton council and the local school board. In his spare time he devoted himself to the natural
    sciences. He was an artist and between 1815 and 1837 he produced more than 950 watercolors and pencil drawings of plants of his immediate vicinity and alpine plants from the Säntis region, as well as more than 200 drawings of insects, with the intention of publishing an Illustrated Swiss Alpine Flora. In 1843 he became a corresponding member of the National Institute for the Advancement of Science in Washington, and he was a member of the internationally famous Leopoldina from 1820. After his death, his will not having the proper legal form, his library was scattered, but his natural history collection was purchased for the Natural History Museum. The genus Zollikoferia was published by Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck in 1825.
  • zona'le: having a band or girdle of some kind or color usually as a distinct characteristic, in the case of this example having a horseshoe-shaped band on the leaves and thus being called "horseshoe geranium."
  • zona'tus: girdled.
  • Zos'tera: from the Greek zoster, meaning "a girdle," and referring to the ribbon-like leaves. The genus Zostera was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
  • zosterifor'mis: having the form or appearance of a girdle.