“The Naming of Names”, by Anna Pavord – Book review

The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants by Anna Pavord is a great book with amazing illustrations.

The author is very good at telling the long history of over 2000 years on how the modern standard taxonomy was created for all plants and all living things. For some reason, Anna Pavord likes to divide all the historical characters into two groups: “good guys” and “bad guys”. This simplification might be true, but sometimes reading the book I had the impression of watching a Hollywood movie. But don’t worry, as in every respectable Hollywood film, the good guys at the end will prevail.

We don’t have to forget that the battle to establish a set of universal conventions to name plants is not yet over! For example, take a look at Wikipedia (the English version) and you will see that the scientific notation is not yet used as a standard way to name plants. For reason I completely ignore, many Americans still prefer the ambiguous local notation over the scientific one (not surprising, they still discussing creationism).

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