Hostas for late season leaf color
Four plant books from Timber Press: Dahlias, Snowdrops, Salvias and Sedums

Spoons for Escargot and more crazy plant names

Hemerocallis 'Spoons For Escargots' Image © Strictly Daylilies’ve been working on a piece for Amateur Gardening, Britain’s long established weekly magazine (Yes, Britain has two weekly gardeing magazines), about plants with names suited to special occasions. You know… ‘Golden Wedding’ rose, that sort of thing. There are plants for birthdays, plants for anniversaries, plants for retirements and… and plants for bereavements.

So, when your beloved terrier or retriever finally passes away, you can plant a rose called ‘In Memory of My Dog’ on its grave. Yes, really! And if yours is a cat household, there’s ‘In Memory of My Cat’! No sign yet of roses called ‘In Memory Of My Goldfish’ or ‘In Memory Of My Stick Insect’ let alone ‘In Memory of My Waistline’.

Of course, you know how I love the oddities of plant names and nothing beats the communist lilacs. But looking through the new plants that are being introduced this year there are some interesting curiosities amongst the names.

There’s a new abutilon rather oddly called 'Eric's Wotsit' and a clivia called, yes, 'Sweet Undress'… hmmm. Of course, as usual, daylilies and hostas excel with 'Romeo is Bleeding' and 'Spoons for Escargot' (above, click to enlarge) daylilies along with 'Tokyo Smog' and 'Rosedale Tractor Seat' hostas. And Americans will be horrified by the pulmonaria called 'Spotted Dick'… (It’s a traditional British baked desert, spotted with raisins).... I'll say no more.

Got any more?

Thank you to Strictly Daylilies for permission to use their picture of Hemerocallis 'Spoons for Escargot'.


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Chad Turner

Hosta Outhouse Door - it must have been growing by an outhouse somewhere. I think there might also be one called Elvis Lives.

Graham Rice

Actually, it's 'Outhouse Delight' and it was raised by Tony Avent at Plant Delights nursery. He described it as "the ugliest hosta in the history of hostas" and it did indeed once grow by the outhouse. It has strange white, green-veined leaves and is generally noted as being a "collectors' plant"!

'Elvis Lives' comes from the same source, but is more widely appreciated for its rippled blue leaves and vase-like shape.

Mike Grant

Here's a few:
Rhododendron occidentale 'Pistil Packin Mama' (a mutant with no corolla or stamens, so flower consists of pistil with elongated style)
Scrophularia auriculata 'Burdung' (variegated, looks like it's splashed with bird droppings)
Hemerocallis 'Four Play' (tetraploid)
Lilium 'Bums' (A Latvian word, might mean boom)
Paphiopedilum Greenteaicecreamandraspberries (30 letters, the maximum permissible for an orchid hybrid name)
And a couple that have always puzzled me:
Iris 'Social Register'
Iris 'Wisteria Sachet' (I know it's wisteria coloured)

Graham Rice

Someone once told me that Burdung was the province in Tibet where the plant was found! In fact it turns out to be one of nurseryman Joe Sharman's little jokes. He also used to sell a plant called Cardamine pratensis 'Improperly Dressed' - named because it has no petals.

That Paphiopedilum is great - another long one that I like is the daylily 'How Beautiful Heaven Must Be' with 28 characters, including spaces. Do the spaces count?


I've always liked Ranunculus 'Brazen Hussy' myself.

Graham Rice

Yes, and there's also 'Brazen Child' and 'Brazen Daughter' but they don't have the same to them do they. There was also once a variety of Ranunculus ficaria that was named because it has especially small (yes, small) flowers. If only I could remember what the name was...

Ranunculus ficaria is now Ficaria verna, by the way...

Graham Rice

And here's a whole load of daylilies I just come across: 'Lavender Panties', 'Pink Panties', 'Pantie Raid', 'Panties in a Knot', 'Panties in the Wind', 'Don't Touch Me There', 'Long Legged Lap Dancer', 'Nude Yoga', 'We Dare to Bare'. Hmmm... All, apparently, introduced by Curt Hansen from Ohio...

Mazy Childs

Do I remember a hosta called Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Food names seem to be popular, am I right there's a hydrangea called Cheesecake? What happened to the old names like Lemon Beauty and Orange Queen?

Martyn Cox

It's not just Americans who find spotted dick amusing. My two children can't pass the chilled pudding aisle in the supermarket without sniggering at the name.

Graham Rice

Thanks, Martyn. When my American relatives first visited us in England, there was a certain amount of hilarity at the sight of a pack in the supermarket freezer labeled "Faggots". A faggot is "traditionally made from pig's heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavoring and sometimes bread crumbs" says Wikipedia. Sounds ghastly, doesn't it!

Meanwhile, back in the world of plants, here's a couple more odd variety names from my ever-lengthening list. There's a rose called 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine', a well scented, lemony pink Tea rose imported from China in the 1980s, and there's a pale pink rhododendron with the baffling name of 'Woody's Friggin Riggin'!

Carolyn Wylie

Hoptoit, Osay Canuc (pronounced "oh say, can you see"), and many other bearded irises hybridized by Texan Tom Burseen

Paula Dyason

Thanks Graham for such an informative piece. As a hemerocallis grower the craziest name I have run across is H. Nekkid Woman Frying if?! Loosely translated this means 'A Really Bad Idea'. As an American, I agree that naming a plant 'Spotted Dick' WOULD be a problem for most.

Graham Rice

I see what you mean about Tom Burseen's irises, Carolyn. Some of their names are just, well, strange... Here's a selection: ‘And Kyler Too’, ‘Awful Purdy’, ‘Bad Bob’ Judy’ (yes, with the single quote in the middle), ‘Bingo Bango Bongo’, 'Cause For Pause', ‘Clearly Dearly Done’, ‘Coalignition’, ‘Cuz Ur Myon’, ‘Dewuc Whatic’ and then comes the very traditional ‘ Dorothy Parker’! You can see a huge range, and some are simply gorgeous, at

Graham Rice

So, Paula, are you implying that it's a really bad idea to grow 'Nekkid Woman Frying Bacon' because it's not a very good variety? Or just remarking on the inadvisability of breakfast culinary nudity? It certainly looks extraordinary (the daylily, that is)...

TPP Kalani

Urtica dioica 'Dainty Danglers' is Threatened in Cultivation: Critical in Cultivation, only being listed in the Plant Finder in 2001 and 2002, and not known to be growing anywhere - although Wisley has a herbarium specimen. Rhododendron occidentale 'Pistil Packin Mama' is also Threatened in Cultivation: Endangered in Cultivation, only growing at one botanic garden, but hasn't yet made it onto our threatened list online

Graham Rice

'Dainty Danglers', that's a great one! And thank you so much, Kalani, for the link to the Plant Heritage Threatened Plants Project. I'll be taking a look at this excellent scheme soon.

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