Josh’s Foraging Tip #4

Embrace Scientific Names

Knowing how to positively identify a plant is an essential foraging practice, and being able to name a plant precisely is a natural extension of this practice. As the common name of a plant can vary from region to region or even among people in a given area, utilizing the scientific names of plants can greatly assist you when conducting research* or conversing with others about a plant.

Photo of American Trout-lily
Erythronium americanum or American Trout-lily

My go-to source for both scientific and common names is the New England Wild Flower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae (2011) by Arthur HainesGo Botany is essentially a free, online version of this regional plant manual and features photographs of nearly every plant found in New England.

*As taxonomists receive new information about how plants are related, they update scientific names accordingly (e.g., switching a species to a different genus or family, splitting a species into two species, lumping formerly separate species together, etc.). Therefore, some field guides and resources may reference out-dated scientific names.

This post is part of a series of tips for foragers of wild plant foods.  For my core gathering practices, see Josh’s Guidelines for Foraging.

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