Scientific names explained a selection of plants and birds whose common name begins with L.  { The letter L image used on this page is Public domain and courtesy of Fae at  WikiCommons}

oosestrife ,yellow. Lysimachia vulgaris

Loosestrife the common derives from two possibilities. Stories from ancient Greece have been cited to explain the name. According to one account bunches of yellow loosestrife were tied around the necks of draught animals to make them more docile by repelling insects that would otherwise irritate them,and unsettle the beast.

Lysimachia-the genus name derives from two Greek words that together mean 'to loosen strife'. other sources such as the Roman writer Pliny the Elder,says that the plant was named after Lysimachuis,an ancient King of Thrace,who was reputed to have used the plant medicinally. 

Vulgairs the specific name indicates the plant is common.


Lousewort. Pedicularis sylvatica.

The common name of lousewort derives from the long-held belief that the plant was so called because it infested sheep and other animals with lice. 

Pedicularis the genus name derives also from the belief, pedis being Latin for louse. This appears more probable than the alternative explanation that lousewort was used to prevent infestation by the insect.Whether the plant does spread lice is unproven.

sylvatica the genus name means pertaining to woods.


Lettuce Wild. Lactuca virosa.

Lettuce and Lactuca derive from the Latin lac,indicating milk,and refers to the white juice that flows from the stems when broken.

The specific name virosa indicates poisonous and again refers to the juice which has a hot bitter taster.This gave rise to the country name of acrid lettuce. 

Iiquorice,  Gllycyrrhiza glabra.  Courtesy of Pharaoh han CC BY -SA 3.0 unported license

iquorice   Glyrrhiza glabra

Liquorice derives from the Latin name for the plant Liquirtia,which, in the thirteenth century was written as lycorys. other countries had various spellings but have the same origin.  

The genus name of Glyrrhiza  was named by Dioscorides from Glukos meaning sweet+rhiza meaning root-sweet root.

The specific name glabra  derives fron one of two origins. 1-from glaeba indicating earth,sweet root of the earth, 2- from glabra meaning smooth referring to the seed pods.


Lavender and Lavandula. Lavendula angustifolia spica officinalis

Lavender and Lavendula derive from the Latin lavare meaning to wash. Romans used lavender in their bath water.

angustifolia  indicates narrow leaved.

spica from Latin meaning point,also refers to leaf shape

officinalis,sold as a drug at the Apothercary.


Lungwort Pumanaria officinalis

Lungwort -the blotched markings on the leaves were though to resemble diseased lungs,and through the Doctrine of signatures they were used medicinally against lung ailments. 

Pumonaria derives from pulmo meaning lung.

Alternative names for the plant. The white marks on the leaves were once attributed to the Virgin Mary's Milk or tears,giving rise to country names such as Mary's tears.Spotted mary and Mary Bedlam.

Officinalis -sold as a drug at the Apothecary. 

apland Bunting . Calcaria lapponicus

Calcaria derives from Latin meaning spur alludes to long claw and the rear of the foot.

The specific and common name of lapponicus is named after Lapland in northern Scandinavia.


Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

The common name derives from the way the bird claps its wings when in flight. Because of its colouring it is sometimes referred to as the Green Plover.

The scientific name of Vanellus also refers to the birds wings derives from  Latin vannus meaning a winnowing fan.


Lesser spotted woodpecker.Dendrocopos minor .

Denrocopos derives from the Greek dendron meaning a tree + kopos =cutter

minor the specific name means in this context-lesser .Image of Lapwing Public domain

ittle Grebe. Tachybaptus ruficollis.

Little Grebe indicates its small size. Often referred to as the Dabchick.

Tachybaptus,the genus name derives from Greek takos indicating fast+bapto -to sink under.

The specific name of ruficollis derives from Latin rufus meaning reddish + collus=neck


Long-eared Owl. Asio otus

The common name derives from the two tufts that the bird can erect at will  at appear to be ears {which in fact they are not}

Asio is after a Horned Owl described by Pliny.

The specific name  otus,derives from the Greek word for the ear and indicates an eared owl.


Long-tailed Tit. Aegithalos caudatus.

The genus name of Aegithalos derives from the Greek aegithalos meaning a tit.

The specific name of caudatus is from Latin cauda -a tail. Little Grebe courtesy of Charlesjsharp  CC BY-SA 4.0 International license.

Other useful Latin names you may come across in plant and bird books. 

laureola-Little laurel crown.              Lac- milk                             lagaros-narrow

lagenos-flask                                 labiata -with a lip                  laevigata-smooth

leukos leucos-white                       lept-slender                          leptopus-slender stalked

littoralis-growing by the sea            luna-moon                            lutea-yellow

ludridum-pale yellow                      leucotricha-white haired         lacustris-of lakes

lupulus-small wolf                          lyatra-fiddle shaped.              liliputiana-very small

lutetia Paris{ a Roman name}         liliacinia -lilac coloured           lavo -to wash

lactiflora-milky flowered                  laciniata-deeply cut               lagos-a hare

laxa-loose                                    lanosa woolly                        lanatus-woolly

lepis- a scale                               leimon-a meadow                   lithos-a stone 

longifolia-long leaved                     lysis-releasing                       lucida-glossy/bright

lividus-lead coloured                     leauconeura-white veined        longipipes-long stalked

lancifer -lance bearing                  latifolium-broad leaved            latispinus -broad spines

lasiocarpa-woolly fruits                lateralis-side                           latus -flank

lepus-a hare                               luteus-yellow saffron coloured.

liveus-blusih grey                        lepton-light                             lanius -a butcher 

legere -indicating to lift                lamina-a thin plate                 lamellicorn -aplate horned

lanceolate-narrowing and tapering at each end { lance shaped}

lanceolata-lance shaped. 


Associated pages. Click on the relevant content banner at the top  of this page.

Scientific names- A

Scientific names -B

Scientific names -C

Scientific names -E

Scientific names -F

Scientific names -G

Scientific names -H

Scientific names- I

Scientific names-J&K

Full A-z In this series now available


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