There are several common names in use for houseplants, usually based on one of the plants distinguishing features and also occasionally very amusing.
There is one that stands out in my mind in particular and that is “mind your own business”, Helxine Soleirolii. As you can imagine I have to be very careful how I answer the question “Is there a common name for this plant?”
Several succulents have very descriptive common names, “Turkish Temple”, a member of the Euphorbia family, literally looks like a temple dome. Among the Sedum’s you will find the “Jelly Bean Plant”.
A plant, which unfortunately has lost its popularity, is Beloperone Guttata. This is known as the “Shrimp Plant”, due to the shape of its salmon coloured flower heads.
Other indoor plants with common names related to their flower shape include Hypocyrta Glabra, “Clog Plant”, Columnea Gloriosa, “Goldfish Plant”, Aeschynanthus Lobbianus, “Lipstick Vine” and Strelitzia Reginae, the “Bird of Paradise Flower”.
Leaf shape and markings also lead to common names such as the “Iron cross Begonia” with its distinctive dark cross shape in the leaf centre. Another member of the Begonia Rex family is the “Eyelash Begonia” with its attractive hairy leaf margins.
Leaf colour too has a part to play in the naming of plants. One such plant is the colourful Croton, referred to as “Joseph’s Coat”. Similarly, within the Draceana group, is the “Flaming Dragon Tree” with its bright red-edged leaves.
I am occasionally asked for plants by a common name that is often restricted to a certain region. Needless to say these take a bit of detective work to sort out.
Until next time, look after your “Fingernail” ferns and “Fiddle-leaf” figs and remember that your “Beefsteak” plant is for admiring and not adding a pepper sauce to.