Friday, 17 November 2017

Scientific Names - All that Glistens is not Gold

While exploring local nature reserves and beauty spots, I like to identify and record the plants and creatures that I find. To do this properly, I need to understand more about the scientific names. As the golden autumn afternoons fade into winter, I've decided that gold is a good place to start.

Scientific nameOriginEnglish meaning
aur- (root word)latingold 
chrys- (root word)greekgold
chrysanthemumgreekgold flower
I wish I could include an example of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) but you don't get many of those in Uckfield. Instead, my first example is a tiny moth that, during the summer, I often find in the garden. Some people call it Small Gold and Purple and other, Mint Moth. This type of confusion is one of the reasons that recorders use scientific names.
Small Purple and Gold (Pyrausta aurata), garden
The next one isn't gold at all but I think that the name is referring to its shiny wing-cases.
Rose Beetle (Cetonia aurata), garden
Now turning to the plant word, the scientific name of Goldilocks buttercup is auricomus, which means golden-haired.
Goldilocks (Ranunculus auricomus), Boothland Wood.
Aurantiaca means orange-coloured. In autumn, I sometimes find light orange False Chanterelle fungi in Views (Williams) wood near Manor Park.
False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) in View (Williams) Wood.
 Finally, auricollis means golden collared. The little pollinator in the photo below is a hoverfly. It doesn't sting but the gold and black rings deters predators by mimicking a bee or a wasp.

Meliscaeva auricollis, garden.
So, from now on, if I see aur in a scientific name, there is a reasonable chance that I have struck gold.



  1. Hallo! It is the Mongoose. I don't have your e-mail address anywhere. Please could you get in touch at baroque.mongoose [at]

    Many thanks!

  2. I've mailed you - hope it got to you OK.