Scientific names explained---A selection of plants and birds whose common name starts with F. The image of the letter F is from Wikicommons-Public domain and Uploaded to Commons courtesy of Fae

umitory       Fumaria officinalis.'

the common and genus names derive from a Medieval Latin name meaning  'Smoke of the Earth',referring to the acrid smell the roots give off ,or from the smokey appearance of the plant,or according to Pliny because the juice of the plant brings a flow of tears, that the sight becomes dim as with smoke.

officinalis the specific name alludes to it being sold as a drug at the Apothercary.


Figwort;  Scrophularia nodosa. 

The common name derives from  the form of this species roots which have fig-like growths. Or the leaves of some species resembling those of the Fig tree.

Scrophularia-the genus name derives from the fact that medieval herbalist used the common figwort to treat the disease  of scrofula known commonly as the 'Kings evil',a tubercular disease which affects  the neck glands. At one time the plant was known as throatwort.

nodosa--the specific name alludes to the tall flowering stems which are produced annually by the rhizomes. These rhizomes grow small nodes or tubers which give the plant its species name and also the country title of Knotted figwort. 


Fairy flax,  Linum catharticum.

The common name  Its small size led it being linked to the word fairy in its name,however, this connection seems unlikely. In fact the plants name dates back to the middle ages at a time when the belief in fairies was real to them. They were not thought at that time to be dainty little sprites,but redoubtable powerful spirits of the countryside.

Linum the genus name derives from the Greek word linon, meanng flax employed by Theophrastus.

The species name catharticum  means purging. The plant was once used as a purgative. 

ool's watercress. Apium nodiflorum

The common name derives from the fact that this poisonous plant is often mistook for other related harmless species.

The genus name Apium is the Latin name for Celery and Parsnip. 

nodiflroum denotes several kinds of flower-heads, however, this plant was originally named helosciadum which is a Greek name for a marsh plant with an umbellifer flower head.


Fleabane; Pulicaria dysentercia.

The common name is said to allude to when the plant is dried it reputedly drives away fleas. It is a 'bane' to fleas.

Pulicaria the genus name also alludes to fleas derived from the Latin Pulex meaning a flea.

The specific name of dysentercia , alludes to the time when fleabane was used as a medicine against dysentry.


Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare


Fennel and Foeniculum, was the name given to the plant by the Romans and derives from the Latin word foenum,meaning hay,. This was corrupted  during the middle ages to 'fenkel' ,which is an alternative name for the plant. Other names commonly used for the plant include Large fennel, Sweet fennel and Wild fennel.

vulgare  means common. 



 Public domain---Northern Fulmar.



erruginous duck. Aythya nyroca

The genus name of Aythya derives from Greek aithuia, a sea bird described by Aristotle.

The specific name of nyroca derives from Russian nyrock=a type of duck.


Fulmar--Fulmarus glacialis

The common name and the genus name derive from Old Norse fulmar meaning a foul Gull.

The species name of glacialis derives from Latin and indicates icy.


Fea's Petrel.  Pterodoma feae.

The genus name of Pterodroma derives from  the Greel pteros meaning wing+ drommos =running.

The common name and the specific name after Leonaro Fea,an Italian ornithologist

Firecrest Courtesy of Tony Castro CC BY-SA 4.0  license Wikicommons.


irecrest.      Regulus ignicapilla.

The common name alludes to the flame coloured head markings.

The genus name of Regulus derives from the Latin regulus meaning a prince or kinglet

The specific name of igicapilla derives from the Latin ignis meaning fire + capillus =capped.


Foster's tern. Sterna fosteri

the genus name of Sternus derives from the old English stearn meaning a tern

The specific name of fosteri after Johaan Forster a naturalist on Cook's ship.[1729-78}.


Fan-tailed warbler.  Cisticola  juncidis

The genus name of Cisticola is derived from the Greek Kistos meaning a shrub but particularly the Rock rose+ colere to inhabit.

The specific name derives from the Latin juncus =a reed. 


Latin words you may encounter in bird and plant books beginning with F

falcato=sickle shaped                      fastigiata=erect.      fistculasum=hollow stem

fibrosa =fibrous                               flabaletta =fan-shaped        felis =a cat

flammula =Little flame                floribundus =profusely flowering,  frugis = fruit

foetida-unpleasant smelling or scent.                          fraxinus-ash tree

fridgidus-of cold regions.                flos=flower.           flexilis- flexible.

fragrantissima =very fragrant                                      ferox-savage {spines}

fulva =tawny.                           fragillis- brittle {fragile}   fragens sweet {scented}

falco=a hawk or falcon.             feron =spiny               fringilla -a small bird.

florida =flowering.                    fulvus deep yellow or tawny   frons-,brow or forehead  

flavium/flava-yellow                 flavidus =yellow.            fertilise = fertile

filix-mas = male fern               flexua =wavy                  flaccida = drooping

floccosus = woolly                 fontinalis= of fountains.      fulgens =shining

formosum=beautiful               fritillus=dice box.              fusca =brown      

ferrunginea= rusty                  fruticosum= shrubby        ficaria= fig like

filum= thread.                       festuca=straw                  foeneum = hay

falx=sickle                            foliosa=leafy                    flaviramea=yellow shoots

frondosa= leafy.                  familiaris=common            flavus golden or light yellow

fuscus=dark-dark brown.          fuligo=soot 





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Scientific names-A

Scientific names -B 

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Scientific names-D

Scientific names -E

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