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Saturday, 18 August 2012

And in first place...Pinus Sylvestris!

In my ongoing quest to do interesting things at the weekend, we took a trip to the Botanic Gardens today.

We collected fallen leaves to take home and identify them, pretended to be explorers traipsing through a wilderness, created a bed for passing fairies, and then Josie and Lori insisted we sat at a table for lunch because it had a plaque on it in memory of someone called Andrew Lindsay (Andrew being their Dad, if you didn't know, and me, Lindsay, being their Mum, obviously). They were both very eager to know what each tree was, but because the Botanic Gardens label their trees only with the Latin names, it's not so easy to work out what they're actually called.

Here's a handy interactive site for identifying UK trees from their leaves.

Because of a recurring theme in my book, I am absolutely obsessed with the Latin names for animals, birds and fish right now. I find them fascinating, and I'm trying to remember as many as possible. Cedrus was pretty easy to remember (cedar of various varieties). Acer also seemed to recur quite a lot. My Higher Latin completely failed me, because all I could think of was the computer brand. Turned out they were varieties of sycamore or maple.

I particularly liked the Latin name for Scots Pine. It's English name, which suggests it's somehow unique to Scotland, is particularly misleading. This its range:
The SNP had slightly larger ambitions for the independent state of Scotland than they admitted to the media.
As you can can see, Scotland probably makes up less than 1% of its range.

So, would they continue this blatant misdirection in the Latin name? If they did, then I would have expected Pinus Caledonius, or Pinus Scotius, or something of that ilk. Apparently they decided to go in the other direction and give it a name that couldn't possibly give you any idea of any of its characteristics. In Latin, a Scots Pine is Pinus Sylvestris, which basically means Pine of the forest or woods. And really, aren't they all?

The Pinus Sylvestris was pleased to provide 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize in this year's Obvious, But Surprisingly Unhelpful Names Awards.

Anyway, the name sparked a little idea in my head. and I'm very much looking forward to getting back to redrafting, editing, and extending from next Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? Because I go back to Burlesque classes at Dancebase on Tuesday night, which means I'll have three free hours beforehand to scribble, type, and generally do an impression of Jo March in her garret (sans little black hat to wipe ink on) on the second floor of Fettes Row.

Oh, and finally...if you have children who are 8+, and live in the Edinburgh area, then you might want to head down to the Botanics tomorrow for an Olympic/Brave inspired activity: archery!

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