University of Illinois Extension
A Word on Common Names - Perennial Selection - Stepping Stones to Perennial Garden Design - University of Illinois Extension

A Word on Common Names

Using common names for plant material is a nightmare. What one reference lists as Grandma's Sunbonnets, another calls Ozark Sundrop (Oenothera missouriensis). Even Latin names have become more confusing due to botanists changing their classifications. However, to insure you receive what you desire, use the Latin name when purchasing. Use the Latin name when asking for cultural information. You may not use the name everyday, but you should keep a record of what it is. For most gardeners the common name is easier. All botanical names used in this website are taken from Manual of Herbaceous Ornamental Plants by Steven Still, 1994 printing.

I love to hear Real gardeners talking, Latin names rolling off their tongue, sonorous and beautiful. I feel abashed when I take a sleeve and say, 'Do come and see that pink thing over there.'
'Ah, Centaurea hypolucea. Very nice,' they say. Never mind. It smiles the same for both of us."
-- Pam Brown, b. 1928