What Local Native Plant Is That?

In Bushland Near Your School



The plants shown opposite already have their names written on them so they are easy to look up in a book or on the web.  Here is how their names are broken up:  




Botanical Name:    Acacia leiocalyx

Genus:   Acacia
from the Greek word akakia - to sharpen  (first species described had short, pointed leaves)

Species:   leiocalyx
from the Greek word leios - smooth, and calyx - the outer whorl of the flower consisting of individual sepals.
Common Name:  Lamb's Tail Wattle.
All true wattles belong to the family MIMOSACEAE but some plants with 'wattle' in their common name do not belong to this family.  Common names can be misleading.





Botanical Name:    Archirhodomyrtus becklerii 

Genus:  Ararchirodomyrtus 

from Greek archi - first, rhodo - a rose and the genus Myrtus, referring to the appearance of the flowers.

Species:   becklerii

After Dr. Herman Beckler, a botanist with the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition.

Common Name:    Rose Myrtle.  Well, it certainly isn't a rose. 

It belongs to the same family as the wattle - MYRTACEAE.

True roses are in the family ROSACEAE. 

Common names can be misleading.





Botanical Name:   Syzygium oleosum

Genus:  Syzygium

from the Greek syzygos - yoking.   from syn - together   zygon - yoke.  In some species petals join to form a calyptra (cap, hood, cape) which is shed as flower expands.

Another reference suggests:

from Greek


, joined, referring to paired leaves and branchlets of a Jamacian species.

Species:   oleosum 

From Latin


, oil and the suffix -


, plenitude of, referring to the large number of oil glands on the leaves.

Common Name:    Blue Lillypilly   (seems pretty appropriate)





Botanical Name:     Petrophile shirleyae

Genus:  Petrophile

from the Greek petra - rock + phileo - to love.  Refers to rock-loving habitat.

Species:   shirleyae 

Common Name:   Conesticks

This plant comes from the family PROTEACEAE which means it is related to the Banksias.





Botanical Name:    Austromyrtus dulcis  

Genus:   Austromyrtus

Latin australis - southern + myrtle(southern myrtle)

Species:  dulcis

Latin for sweet - refers to the berry

Common Name:    Midyim.  This common name is also the Aboriginal name for this plant.   






Don’t be afraid of botanical names.  They are just new words that describe very specific things and make it easy to find out what is known about them.  It is hard to get information about anything if you don’t know its name.




Botanical names

A botanical name is the special scientific name for that one particular plant and it describes that plant all over the world, following Carl Linnaeus' binomial ("two names") system of naming.  


Family  (relatives)       Groups of plants that are related.

Genus (group)

Species (specific or special to one plant only)



Common names

are made up by local people.  Names such as “Prickly Moses” “Blue Gum” and "Christmas Bush" can apply to different plants.

To make sure you are getting information about the right plant, you need to use the botanical name when you are searching. 





Aboriginal names

Aboriginal people had names for these plants long before the system we use now.   Unfortunately many of these local names have been lost or forgotten.    Where they are known, you will find them listed along with the common names.   Another thing to remember is that  Aboriginal people in a different part of the country may have a different name for the same plant 






Local EXPERTS will give you the correct botanical names of plants near your school so you can find out what is known about them  and make a list so other people know what plants  grow in bushland near your school.   Try to find out the meaning of these botanical names - they will describe the plant.

The study of plant names is called TAXONOMY.   








Web References: 

Noosa's Native Plants

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants

Australian plant common names database

Reference Books

Stephanie Haslam, 2004. Noosa's Native Plants. Illustrations by Janet Hauser. Published by Noosa Integrated Catchment Assoc.

Curriculum Links

Unit 2.1:  How plants get their names? (PDF 50 kb) 

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