Botanical Latin Glossary

a project of
V. F. Thomas Co. - P. O. Box 84 - Hulls Cove, Maine  04644
info@vfthomas.com


updated: 8 January 2024)




To “enter” the botanical Latin glossary, click on the letter below that is the first letter of the Latin word you are interested in. Then scroll down the file you are taken to until you reach the word you are looking for. For example, if you want to look up the word flos, click on the letter F below, and after the F file has opened, scroll down to flos.

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z   




The long-term goal of this glossary is to list every Latin word used in a species description or diagnosis that is found in botanical literature. This is clearly unattainable for an individual, but perhaps what has been done here will become a springboard for future researchers. So, an intermediate goal (and the one currently being worked on) is to list every word used in a species description in volumes 1 and 2 of Species Plantarum (1st edition, 1753), the starting point for botanical nomenclature.
   The main entries for the words in this glossary are those found in Latin dictionaries and are presented below in bold face and flush with the left margin. The specific forms of those words are indented and printed in “normal” face. Following each form is a description of that form (e.g., case, number, and gender for adjectives) and then reference(s) to the location(s) in Species Plantarum.
   For some (long-term goal: all) entries, the species name in a reference is also a link to a translation of the description of that species. The species names are the ones given by Linnaeus.
   Work to date on words from Species Plantarum is complete through Orchis ovalibus on page 943 (of 1200 pages through end of volume 2).

Grammatical note. Five cases of nouns and adjectives are recognized here: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative (includes locative).

Thank you to Ian Andrews of the Botanical Latin Facebook Group and Tom Hayward, lecturer emeritus in Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine), for their help when I found myself struggling with a translation. In the end, however, I accept responsibility for any errors in this glossary or in the associated translations (unless I can find some way to blame them on someone else).
   Other sources that I have found valuable are Stern’s Botanical Latin, Wheelock’s Latin, the Oxford Latin Dictionary, Order out of Chaos, and Categorical Glossary for the Flora of North America Project.

Comments and corrections are welcome and should be e-mailed to info@vfthomas.com or sent to the address at the top of this page. Thanks.