Naming hedging plants

Naming hedging plants follows the rules laid down by Linnaeus binomial system. Their botanical names reveal hidden details about its history and biology:

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Naming Hedging Plants

While the rules for naming Hedging Plants are generally straightforward, the information those names can reveal is varied. They can tell of its discovery and origins; its biology; the botanists who may (or may not) be associated with its discovery or creation; its preferred location or something as banal as the colour of its flowers.
The following lists decode the names of our most popular hedging plants and contain examples of all types. Of course, many of the descriptors can be found in the names of many other plants…
• Buxus sempervirens – the Common Box is always green
• Carpinus betulus – Hornbeam is like the beech tree
• Escallonia macrantha – this Escallonia has large flowers
• Fagus sylvatica – the Beech (Fagus) found in the woods or forest
• Griselinia littoralis – a shore growing Griselinia
• Ligustrum ovalifolium – the Privet with oval leaves
• Lonicera nitida – The genus Lonicera includes all the honeysuckles and is named after the German Renaissance botanist Adam Lonicer. This variety has sleek, shiny leaves (nitida)
• Pittosporum tenuifolium  – Pittosporum are known for their sticky (like tar or pitch pitta) seeds (spora) and this species has slender (tenu) leaves (foli)
• Taxus baccata  – this Yew (Pictured top) bears red berries


• × Cuprocyparis leylandii – named after Christopher Leyland, the previous owner of the Powys Estate where this naturally occurring hybrid was discovered in 1888
• Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ – This is a hybrid of Photinia glabra and Photinia serratifolia. Photinia comes from the Greek for shining (photeinos) and references their glossy leaves; fraseri is self-acknowledgement (and why not) by Fraser’s Nursery in Birmingham, America where the plant originated. ‘Red Robin’, of course, aptly describes the colour of its new growth.


• Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ – the Dwarf  Box is always green and shrub-like
• Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ – Fortunei honours Robert Fortune, the 19th century Scottish botanist who brought many plants back from China and India. Euonymus is ancient Greek for good name
• Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ – the Purple Copper Beech
• Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’ – the ‘blue spire’ is modestly self-evident. The genus Perovskia is named after Count Vasily Alekseevich Perovsky (1794–1857), a Russian general and statesman while atriplicifolia identifies this species as having leaves (folia) like Atriplex (atriplici), an unrelated genus commonly called saltbush or orach
• Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’; ‘Variegata’ and ‘Garnettii’  – These three  cultivars take their names respectively from: an unknown Elizabeth; its variegated foliage and either another unknown person or from its dark red, garnet-like berries
• Prunus laurocerasus ‘Rotundifolia’ – this evergreen species of the Cherry (Prunus) looks similar to the unrelated bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). The cultivar has round (rotundus) leaves (folia)
• Thuja plicata ‘Atrovirens’ – the Western Red Cedar is not related to the true Cedar (Cedrus) which is why, in is native North America, its common name is generally spelt Redcedar. Thuja comes from the Greek thyia meaning an African tree while plicata derives from the Latin plicare meaning folded in plaits or braided referring to its foliage. The cultivar name gives further clues to its foliage: black/dark (attro) green (virens)