Plant Cuttings

Whither botanical accuracy? ***

The Botanical Accuracy weblog, curated by Lena Struwe (Botanist of New Jersey (USA) is a phenomenon, and a revelation!
By Rkitko – cobbled together by User:Rkitko from images available on Wikimedia Commons., GFDL,

Ever-mindful of the pernicious malaise that is ‘plant-blindness’, we at Cuttings HQ are passionate about spreading the word that plants are important, etc. And we rightly applaud attempts that others – non-botanists but generally well-meaning entities such as newspapers or purveyors of plant products, etc. – make to disabuse people of the notion that plants are boring, and unimportant. However, it is as important to get the message right as it is to spread the word in the first place. You can surely imagine my joy when I stumbled upon the botanical accuracy website, a cyberportal devoted to, well, botanical accuracy.

Curated by Lena Struwe (Botanist of New Jersey (USA), and, yes, the same award-winning, joint-namer of the amber-encased Strychnos electri mentioned in my previous blog entry of the 24th May), it is a phenomenon, and a revelation!

Recognising that mistakes are made in dealing with plant matters, the “Better Botanical Business Bureau” showcases botanical mistakes – e.g. wrong common names, wrong scientific names, wrong ingredients – in commercial and public venues and products and – importantly! – corrects them*.

In this way it is hoped to provide scientific and educational information as part of a global effort to increase botanical knowledge. One of the site’s most interesting items concerns the desire to get newspapers (etc….) to get scientific names set out correctly in their pages. Entitled “Dear New York Times, when will you start to care about taxonomic accuracy?”, it deserves to be read – and acted upon! ** – by all text-based media that attempt to inform or educate the public. Small things, like getting names right, do matter, so more power to the BBBB in its noble nomenclatural quest!

* With suitable humility, Lena recognises that sometimes her blog may get things wrong and readers are invited to contact her about any such items so they may be corrected.

** Particularly so since the NY Times was quick enough to be a stylistic trend-setter in  ‘downsizing’ the Internet!

*** And to deal with the punorhetorical interrogatory title to this piece, the ‘answer’ is “Botanical accuracy mustn’t be allowed to wither…”