The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening Science - the Vegetable Kingdom
Chapter: Chapter 1: Plant Nomenclature

Subvarieties of plants

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996. Subvarieties of plants are accidental modifications of varieties of a very temporary and fluctuating nature. They are generally produced by culture, and are more especially known in garden-fruits, culinary vegetables, and what are called florists' flowers. The differences among Subvarieties are generally so slight, or so difficult to define, as not to admit of the application of scientific names. Botanists, therefore, pay no attention to them; but gardeners, to whom they are of considerable importance, have found it necessary in some way or other to distinguish them ; and the names they give them are occasionally useful as being indicative of their properties ; but they are frequently fanciful, and sometimes absurd. In general the names of culinary vegetables and fruits bear the name of the person who raised them, with the place where they were raised, with or without the addition of some adjective expressing their properties, as Forest's Large Upsal Cabbage, Reid's New Golden Pippin, &c. The names applied to varieties of gooseberries, florists' flowers, and roses, are for the most part given in honour of individuals; sometimes they indicate a quality, as Brown's Scarlet Verbena; and sometimes they imply a superiority, or a challenge, as the Top-Sawyer gooseberry, or Cox's Defiance Dahlia. The Dutch give their florists' flowers many high-sounding titles, which appear at first sight ridiculous ; but in giving them they intend at once to compliment their patrons, and to describe something of the nature of the flower, thus:- the letters W., Y., O., R., C., P., V., B., &c., when capitals, are understood to mean white, yellow, orange, red, crimson, purple, violet, and blue; and hence, when a flower is named William the Conqueror, or Wonder of Constantinople, its colours are understood to be white and crimson ; Charming Phillis, crimson and purple; British Rover, blue and red, &c.