Stephen Hodge s.hodge at PADMACHOLING.PLUS.COM
Tue Aug 19 20:42:37 EDT 2008


>There seem to be several Latin designations
>for the same plant in this case.

This is true.  When many plants, especially non-European, were first named, 
sometimes they were inadvertantly named several times by different 
individuals.  Also the allocation of various plants to familes etc has been 
revised over the decades, so they needed to be renamed.  Some may still yet 
be changed with DNA studies.  But, in principle, there is (or should be) 
only one current valid scientific Latin name for each plant which is 
registered.  There is an international database which gives a ful listing 
for the world's entire scientifically known flora -- which also, if memory 
serves me, gives redundant names -- based at Kew Gardens in London.

Depending what your purposes are, you may find it useful to download a copy 
of Hooker's vast Flora Indica, which is very useful as it gives details of 
distribution in the Indian sub-continent.  There are other works available 
for download that are also useful if you are more interested in trees.

Of course, the problem always with many Indian flora (and fauna) names in 
Sanskrit is that one word can often designate several totally separate 
species or lump together distinct members of a family.  Context sometimes 
helps, though.

I too have been having fun and games recently with certain Indian flora in 
texts --- one of mine turned out to be Strychos nux-vomica !  But this, with 
other dats, has helped corroborate evidence for a geographical origin for my 

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge 

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