A Lamprocapnos by another name….


A recent post on Veg Plotting has sent me in a tizzy over plant names…I’m sure that wasn’t the desired effect, but regardless…. 🙂

It turns out that bleeding hearts haven’t been Dicentra spectabilis for a few years now.  (I must have missed that memo).  They’re now Lamprocapnos spectabilis, which is pronounced sort of like you have marbles in your mouth.  Dicentra was too easy to say, apparently.  At any rate, you’re not likely to find bleeding hearts labelled with the new name at your garden centre, as most growers are still using Dicentra (it saves ink on the labels, perhaps!).  And many magazines and other publications are still referring to the old moniker, too, so please don’t go writing in to the editors all up-in-arms.

Oh, and are you still using the botanical name Coleus blumei for coleus?  It’s actually Solenostemon scutellarioides.  (My tongue seriously won’t go there, and it strains the limits of my ability to spell).

So, why do these name changes occur – especially as they don’t seem to be for the better, at least as far as pronounciation is concerned?  It often happens when new information about the origins (and evolution) of plants comes to light, which necessitates a reclassification.  This means that genera are often juggled around, or species names are bumped up to form new genera.   Sometimes, a name overhaul has to be undertaken when a plant is misidentified.   It’s all about refining and recategorizing, not about giving gardeners a hard time.  Honestly.  For the most part, anyway.  😉

Well, I’m off to water my bleeding heart.  I think, from this day forward, his name shall be George.  (Oh, one of the plant’s common names is “LADY in the bath,” you say?  Hmmm.  I’ll need to reclassify).

What are your favourite taxonomic hits and misses? 


  1. Personally, I am going to stick with the name Coleus which sounds better to me anyway, and not as lengthy. Also, Bleeding Hearts are Bleeding Hearts, no matter what their technical name is. Thanks for the write-up, and like you, I am sticking to what I know.

  2. I recently found out that Corydalis lutea has been to moved to a new genera and has the wonderful(!) name “Pseudofumaria lutea” now! Another improvement? 😉

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