Flowers and the Female

photo 2

I’ve been very much enjoying having some Cerinthe in the house (or Honeywort – as they’re beloved by bees) – a present from my friend Susie, grown in her beautiful Allendale garden. Although only an annual, it is has survived all through this winter.  I have a new plant of my own, with no flowers just yet, but it’s looking happy enough.


I was pleased to learn that the name Cerinthe comes from the Greek – keros, for ‘wax’, after the almost fleshy texture of the leaves and bracts;  anthos means ‘flower’ (which gives us the word ‘anthology’).  To my ear it still sounds like a woman’s name.

Why is it girls are often named after flowers but no one thinks to name a boy after one?  I can only summon up Rowan Atkinson (strictly speaking a tree, for which there might be different rules) and Lupin in The Diary of a Nobody.  Anybody know any more?

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10 thoughts on “Flowers and the Female

  1. Deborah Buchan says:

    I thought about Ash but that’s a tree, so not quite there (yet) X

  2. Candia says:

    Thanks- I did not know what these flowers were called.

  3. Bill Herbert says:

    There’s Cherry Lee Lewis, of course.

  4. Rosie Hudson says:

    Basil is the only one I can come up with….

  5. Pauline says:

    William as from Sweet William!

  6. Judith Bush says:

    I suspect Lupin is more from the wolf than from the flower.

    Not a contemporary name but Narcissus was, in Greek myth, a hunter, and then it was an apparently a common Roman name.

    And … well, does the Scarlet Pimpernel count?

    • Thanks for this, Judith. I never knew that about Lupin – very interesting. It makes me wonder if the flower and the wolf are connected. If Sweet William counts, then so should the Scarlet pimpernel!

      • Lupins got their name from the latin for wolf because, in observing the poor soils they grew in, observers mistook correlation for cause and thought the lupins robbed the soil of nutrients. Ah, Random House dictionary etymology, “Origin:
        1350–1400; Middle English < Latin lupīnus, lupīnum, apparently noun use of lupīnus lupine2 ; compare German wolfsbohne lupine, literally, wolf bean"

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