Monday, April 23, 2012

Sarcodes sanguinea: scientific name for snow plant referring to texture and color

Sarcodes sanguinea is the scientific name for the snow plant or snow flower, which is a parasitic plant in the heath family (Ericaceae), found in Oregon, California and northwest Nevada. The genus name Sarcodes derives from the Greek word sarx for “flesh” and oeides for “like,” describing the snow plant's flesh-like texture. Its deep red color is denoted by the Latin word sanguinea, meaning “blood-red.” The brilliant red makes the snow flower unforgettable, once seen on the forest floor between coniferous trees, through which the rays of sunlight may break their path to the plant that is unable to use them for photosynthesis.  

Since the snow plant is the only member of  the genus Sarcodes, it is sometimes simply mentioned by its genus name, especially in foreign languages. Species and genus was first described by John Torrey in 1853; hence the extended scientific name Sarcodes sanguinea Torr. John Torrey (1796-1873) was an American botanist.

More about the snow plant
In English: Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea).
In German: Schneepflanze (Sarcodes sanguinea).

Nomenclature references
Sarcodes: Sarc'odes.
sanguinea: sanguin'ea/sanguin'eum/sanguin'eus.
John Torrey:  Encyclopedia Britannica: Torrey, John.

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