Scientific names explained. A selection of plants and birds whose common name name starts with J or K

The letter J that appears on this page is in the public domain courtesy of Fae on WikiCommons.

Jacob's ladder. Polemonium caeruleum.

The common name of Jacob's ladder derives from the leaf arrangement formed in successive pairs of leaflets. 

The genus name Polemonium Is the Greek name for the plant but the origin is obscure but it apparently derived from the Greek  polemos meaning war,but its significance has been lost in time.

The specific name of caerulem indicates deep blue and alludes to the flower.


Jasmine.  Jasminium officinalis 

Jasminium and Jasmine derive from the Persian word Yasmin.

officinalis- indicates it was sold as a drug at the apothercary.


Juniper,common.  Juniperus communis.

Both the generic and common name derive from the Latin Juniperus of obscure origin.

The specific name of communis means either common or grows communally. 

Jacob's Ladder . Public domain courtesy of Matti Virtala Wikimediacommons.

Other names beginning with J you may come across while reading plant books.

Junceum-means rush like.            Japonica of Japan         jubata =like a mane

Juncus-a rush from Latin jungo,indicating ' I join ' alludes to their use for tying.



Jack Snipe. Lymnocryptes minimus.

This bird is also referred to as the Half Snipe.

The genus name of Lymnocryptes  from the Greek limne -a maesh +Krupto=to hide.

The specific name of minimus Latin =smallest. 


Jay,European, Garrulus glandarius

The common name  of jay derives from the Old English jai probably of middle french origin.

The species name of Garrulusfrom Latin garrulus  indicating chattering.

The specific name glandarius  derives from the same Latin name meaning producing acorns from the Latin glandis=acorn one of the birds favourite morsels in autumn.




The letter K image that appear on this page are public domain and uploaded to Commons by Fae

napweed, Common. Centaurea nigra

The common name derives from the knob like flower heads and also its country title of hard heads. Knap is an old English name for knob.

The genus name of Cetaurea,is named after the Centaur ,Chiron who was famous in Greek mythology as being an expert with herbs.

nigra,  the specific name is Latin and indicates black alludes to the bracts of the flower heads. 


Knotgrass, Polygonum aviculare

Both the common and genus name alludes to the knotty swellings where each leaf joint meets the stem. In some cases the stems bend at the joint like a knee,hence Polygonum,which is derived from two Greek words Poly=many + gony -knee

aviculare, the specific name is from Latin and indicates a small bird. Alludes to the fact that birds such as sparrows and finches often eat the seeds.




not.  Calidris canutus

The genus name of Calidris derives  from the Greek Kalidris,a grey waterside bird described by Aristotle and others.

The specific name of canutus,alludes to Canute the king of England { 995-1035 } 


Kittywake,  Rissa tridactyla

The common name is of imitative origin after the birds cry.

The genus name of Rissa comes from the Icelandic rita their name for the bird.

The specific name derives from the Greek tridactulos =three toed.


Kingfisher. Alcedo atthis

The genus name of Alcedo derives from  from the Greek alkuon the greek name for the bird .

The specific name of Atthis is after a beautiful young women of Lebos,and a favourite of Sappho 


Kingfisher.  Courtesy of Karunaka Raker from India  CC BY 2.0 Generic license

Other words you may come across when reading plant or bird books beginning with k

kardia= heart {Latin} cardia.         kapto-to bite {Latin} capto    Keras=horn { Latin}-ceras

Kalypto=to cover {Latin} calypto                       Karyon=nut {Latin} caryon

kathoaros-basket      {Latin} calathus                Keleos=burning { Latin}  celeus.

kentron=a spur { Latin} =centron                       kephale =head  {Latin]-cephale

kerox=wax {Latin} ceros                                  kewinis=of Kew {gardens } {Latin}=cewinis

klados=branch {Latin}-cladus                           Kion=column {Latin}-cion

kissos =ivy {Latin}- cissus.                              kodion=wool {Latin}-codion

kome=hair {Latin]-codion                                 kokkos=berry { Latin} -coccus.

kleis =key {Latin}= cleis                                  klieistos= closed {Latin}-clieiestus 

klethra=alder {Latin}-clethra                             konos=cone {Latin}-conus

koden=bell {latin} -codon                                 kortula=Small cup {Latin} cortula

kratos=strength {Latin} cratus                         krepis=boot {Latin}-crepis

kordyle=club {Latin}-cordyle                            kopros=dung {Latin]-coprus

kytos=bladder {latin]-cytus.                             kyon=dry {Latin}-cyon

krokos=saffron {Latin}-crocus.                        krossos=a fringe {Latin}-croossus

krypto=to hide {cover} {latin}-crypto                 kyphos=curved {Latin]-cyphus

kyanos =blue {Latin}-cyanus                          kymblaon=cymbal {Latin}-cymbalon

kyme=a boat {Latin]-cyne                              kyrtos=arched {Latin]-cyrtus.

kuklos=ring {latin}-cuclos-cuclus                          





Associated pages  Scientific names explained.

Scientific names -A                                  Scientific names-G

Scientific names -B                                  Scientific names-H

Scientific names -C                                  Scientific names -I


Scientific names D                                   Scientific names -J&K

Scientific names -E                     Full A-Z in this series now available.


Many of the species featured on this page have pages of their own on this site or via the links.