Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Botany A to Z: Gutierrezia

G is for Gutierrezia

This genera in the Asteraceae or sunflower family is one of the more difficult to pronounce. The name is based on the ancient and honorable appellation of Gutierrez (a Spanish botanist, in this instance), but you would never know that by hearing it bandied about by botanists. You might think it should be Goo-tyAIR-ess-eea, following the principle of simply tacking an “ia” onto a proper name. However, most botanists in our area say “Goot-ur-EEZ-eea,” or “Goot-ur-EET-zia.” Ranchers pronounce it “snakeweed.”

Gutierrezia sarothrae in full bloom. We have found they don't come when you call, regardless of how you pronounce the name.

It turns out to be difficult to preserve the regular pronunciation of a proper name in day-to-day use of botanical Latin. A generally accepted rule of thumb is: pronounce it the way you learned it from someone else, but with confidence.
A group of pronghorn hanging out with the snakeweed.
To be fair, the pronghorn don't come when you call, either.
CNHP tracks one species in this genera: Gutierrezia elegans, the Lone Mesa snakeweed, discovered by CNHP botanist Peggy Lyon.

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