You might have noticed that at Wit’s End Gardens, we use the botanical name of plants. It’s true that more people know daylilies by the common name instead of Hemerocallis, but many common names vary by region or apply to more than one species. Botanical designations are more precise, at least until the powers that be change them. (Asters are now officially called Symphyotrichum, but Aster is a whole lot easier to say!).
Using the botanical name is one thing, pronouncing it correctly is yet another. Sometimes I’m afraid we sound a lot like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter: "It’s lev-i-O-sa, not lev-i-o-SAR".
There are many books, web sites, magazines and self-important botanists to tell you exactly how to pronounce a botanical name. Chances are they’ll even disagree! Still, gardeners often feel unsure about pronouncing botanical names, fearing that they might sound silly or uneducated if they say it wrong.
Thankfully there are a number of names that are well known and roll off the tongue easily (and correctly!)
Names that tend to trip people up:
Agastache ag-ah-STAK-ee, a-GAH-stak-ee
Liatris lee-AH-tris, lie-A-tris
If you’re up for some tongue-twisters, check out this list:
You can practice pronunciations, learn some of the rules (i = ee, e = eh, ch = k) and count syllables looking for where the accent goes. Or you can chill, and say it as comfortably. In the end whether you say as-KLEH-pee-us or as-KLEE-pee-us, the monarchs love it all the same.