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Common Plant Name Misconceptions

Don't let plant names fool you. Some names have nothing to do with their species or location of origin.

Within the world of gardening, things aren't always as they appear. Many plant names can be misleading.

Here's a short list of some common garden misnomers.

  • Bermuda grass (figure A) is one of the most popular warm-season grasses, but it isn't from Bermuda. It's actually native to Africa.

  • The Boston fern (figure B) hails from the tropics and wouldn't last more than a few seconds outside in a Bostonian winter.

  • Heavenly bamboo (figure C) isn't really bamboo at all—it's actually Nandina domestica.

  • The red cedar evergreen tree (figure D), called such by amateur and professional gardeners alike, isn't a cedar—it's a juniper.

  • Jerusalem artichokes (figure E) are the tasty tubers that add a nice crunch to salads. But they aren't from Jerusalem, and they aren't artichokes. They're actually related to sunflowers.

  • According to a Supreme Court decision rendered in 1893, the tomato is legally a vegetable, even though technically it's still a fruit. The same is true of most nuts, which is to say they aren't really nuts at all, but fruits.

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