Saturday, August 13, 2016

Phylloxera vastatrix, meaning “devastator of vines”

Literally, Phylloxera vastatrix means dry-leaf devastator. The binomial term is composed of three words of the following origins: the Greek noun phyllon for leaf; the Greek/Hebrew adjective xeros for dry; and the Latin noun vastatrix for waster, ravager or devastator [1-3].

Phylloxera vastatrix refers to an observation made in the late 19th century in vineyards in France and other parts of vine-growing Europe. Healthy green leaves of vine plants suddenly turned red in midsummer, followed by the plant's drying and dying. In the 1860s la nouvelle maladie de la vigne was studied in affected vineyards in southern France. The French botanist Jules Émile Planchon and two other agricultural examiners unearthed dead vines, but couldn't find anything. Next, they inspected the roots of still healthy looking vines growing in neighborhood to the dead ones. They found those roots infected by pale-yellow bugs resembling winged termites. Maximillian Potter describes the then shocking news—of what the Planchon team found when they scanned the roots with magnifying glasses—as follows [4]:
As the team filed in their report, beneath the [magnifying] glass they found “not one, not ten, but hundreds, thousands” of tiny yellowish louses on the wood sucking the sap. Over the course of three days, every affected vineyard they visitied, in St.-Rémy, at Graveson, at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, among others, they found these insects, pucerons, which Planchon named Phylloxera vastatrix, meaning  “devastator of vines.”
This grapevine pest is today commonly called phylloxera or grape phylloxera. Its current scientific name is Daktulosphaira vitifoliae. Since its emergence as Phylloxera vastatrix it has been of considerable scientific interest and importance to viticultural enterprises [5].

Keywords: viticulture, entomolgy, insects, phylloxera plague, grapevine.

References and moreto explore
[1] phyllon [].
[2] xeros []
[3] vastatrix [ ].
[4] Maximillian Potter: Shadows in the Vineyard. Twelve, New York, first trade edition, July 2015; page 107.
[5] Astrid Forneck and Lars Huber: (A)sexual reproduction - a review of life cycles of grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifolia. Entomologica Experimentalis et Applicata, 2009, 131 , pp. 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2008.00811.x.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

VINE and WINE, a word pair with differences in pronunciation and meaning

The nouns vine and wine look similar and sound similar—they rhyme. Yet, the two words differ in pronunciation and meaning.  The beginning consonant in vine sounds like the one in the word violet. And the noun wine begins like the word white.

The semantic difference: Vine is the plant that produces grapes (vine berries). Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grape juice. The following sentence illustrates the relation and distinction between the two nouns:
The more a vine struggles, the better the vine and the wine.
Wine chemistry follows vine chemistry follows soil chemistry! The highlighted sentence above has been extracted from a much longer one in Maximillian Potter's “Shadows in the Vineyard,” comparing viticulture in Burgundy (France) and California. Here the complete sentence [1]:

Burgundians believe that some density of planting is good for the vines because it forces them to compete for nutrients; the more a vine struggles, so goes the cliché in Burgundy, the better the vine and the wine. 

Vine, wine and Germans
Germans have the masculine noun Wein for both the plant and the drink—vine and wine. You may have met Germans (like me from northern Germany, where climate & soil is not in favor of viticulture) struggling to say these two English words correctly. But there is help available on the Web [2].
Depending on context, the word vine may variously be translated into German as Weinstock or Rebstock (both masculine) or Weinrebe (feminine) when one wants to refer to the cultivated plant—a vineyard's grape vine, which is the common grape vine (Vitis vinifera).

Keywords: writing, spelling, pronunciation, German-English, grapevine.

References and more
[1] Maximillian Potter: Shadows in the Vineyard. Twelve, New York, first trade edition, July 2015; page 158.
[2] Recommended for German speakers: How to say VINE and WINE - American English Pronunciation Lesson [].