University of Florida

Misleading Plant Names

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Sometimes the names that we use for plants can be somewhat misleading. For example, the name "sage" can actually refer to several distinct plants, including those in the genus Salvia.

In some cases, the name we commonly use for a plant is botanically incorrect. A sago palm isn't a palm at all, but instead is a cycad—a type of primitive plant that's been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Another example is the common houseplant known as Swedish ivy, which is neither from Sweden, nor is it an ivy.

When in doubt, you can always refer to a plant by its Latin name. This is generally a good way to ensure you're talking about the right plant.