Ever since my parents started dating, they’ve called each other, “Buddy.” Whenever my dad was in his home office and my mom needed his attention, she’d yell up the stairs, “Hey, Buddy.” One day, when I called home to talk to Mom, Dad went to find her in the backyard garden and yelled from the porch, “Hey, Buddy.” I know this because I could hear it through the receiver.

Cards will be addressed to “Buddy,” and the two of them will even say, “I love you, Buddy,” before leaning in for a kiss.

The thing is, no one else calls either one of them Buddy. Since I’m an only child, I call them plain ol’ Mom and Dad, and no one else does that either (except for Mom’s adopted aroma-kids!).

I share this odd and personal tidbit to emphasize that we do the same thing with plants—give them names that we know them by—even when they have proper names.

What’s important to understand here is that every essential oil you work with comes from a plant that has an official Latin binomial. Also known as a botanical name, these identifications help us know exactly what plant we’re dealing with.

It’s like the difference between asking to talk to “Buddy,” which could refer to either one of my parents (or the millions of other people out there known as “Buddy”) and asking for Sylla Sheppard-Hanger (Latin for amazing aromatherapist and Mom to Nyssa).

Now, you might think each plant has a Latin name, like our first and last names, and possibly one or more common names, right?

Well, not exactly. Sometimes plants have more than one Latin name.

Before you think plants are just trying to keep us on our toes, keep this in mind: we’ve only been officially classifying plants since about the 1700’s. And since Carl Linnaeus laid the foundations of binomial nomenclature, we’ve learned a lot more about how to study plants and better classify them. So plant names may change species, genus, or much less often, family, and it takes time for everyone to catch on. That’s why many resources (like your books) will list several names if present.

Watch Sylla and Nyssa explain why they love Latin names in the video below.

Now we want to know, what’s your favorite botanical name?

Which one do you just love to say?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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