Scientific names explained. A selection of plants and birds whose common name begins with X Y,or Z.The images of the letters on this page are public domain courtesy of Fae Wiki-Commons.

Xanthoriza--Deives from the Greek xanthos,meaning yellow =rhiza-indicating a root. the roots are yellow.

Xeranhemum -derives from Greek xeros,indicating dry+anthos -a flower.

Xanthoceras.  Derives from Greek xanthos,meaning yellow+keras a horn. alludes to the yellow horn-like appendages,between the petals. 

Xulon=wood.                  Xeros =dry                              xanthos=yellow

xylo=indicating wood.     xyloid relating to,or resembling wood 

ellow Bird's nest. Montropa hypopitys

The Common name Yellow bird's nest is inspired by the tangle of short fleshy branched roots,which bear a fanciful resemblance to a birds nest.

The genus name of Monotropa derives from the Greek mono-meaning single/one+tropa meaning to turn,alluding to the way in which the top of the stem is turned to one side.,or from monotropos ,idicating solitary,perhaps because it is the only plant that grows in dense shade.

The specific name of hypoptiys,derives from Greek and indicates under Pine,indicating the palnts favourite habitat.


Yellow wort. Blackstonia perfoliata.

Wort is another name for a herb.

Blackstonia the genus name commemorates the 18th century London botanist and Apothercary John Blackstone.

perfoliata the specific name indicates 'through leaves'Refers to the way in which the stem appears to pierce the leaves.

Yellow Rattle.  Rhinanthus minor.

Common name- Another name for this bright attractive plant is rattle-box,because of the sound made by the ripe seeds rattling around in their pods. Among Swedish peasants the sound was taken as a signal to mow the hay. A Somerset name for the plant was hayshackle.

The genus name of Rhianthus,alludes to the shape of the petal tube,which resembles a Witch's hooked pendulous nose. From the Greek rhinos-nose+ anthos meaning flower.

The specific name of minor indicates small or  lesser.

Yellow Rattle. Courtesy Anro0002.  CC0 universal license

20150517Rhinanthus minor1.jpg

ellow water lily. Nuphar lutea

The genus name of Nuphar derives from the Arabic name for aquatic plants.

The specific name of lutea is Latin and means yellow.

Country names for the plant include-Brandy bottle and Can dock,  both of which allude to the seed capsules. They form the shape of an old type brandy bottle. Can dock was a name associated with pottery or metal containers that held liquid.


Yellow flag Iris. Iris psuedacorus.

Common name of Yellow flag . According to legend the first person to wear the Iris as an heraldic  device was Clovis,who became king of the Franks in the late 5th century. He drove the Romans out of northern Gaul,and was converted to Christianity. He changed the three toads on his banner for three yellow Iris hence the name of Yellow flag {or banner}.

Six centuries later,the iris was adopted by Louis V11 in the fluer-de-lys,which he wore in crusades against the Saracens-lys is a corruption of Louise,thus the Flower of Louise.

Iris the genus name is Greek for the rainbow.Alludes to the spectrum of colour of the different species. 

The specific name of psuedacorus means false iris.

Its alternative name of Sword Flag refers to the shape of the leaves that have a sharp edge that can easily cut the skin in handled carelessly. 


Yorkshire Fog. Holcus lanatus.

The common name. In North Country dialect 'fog' is any coarse grass that grows after the hay has been cut. The word may have derived from the old Norse word 'Fogg' meaning a long,limp,damp grass which is a good description of the species.

The genus name of Holcus is said to be from the Greek holkos,related to helko indicating  'I draw',alludes to its supposed powers of drawing thorns from the flesh.

The specific name of lanatus,indicates woolly alluding to the appearance of the flower spikes. It is also referred to as the 'soft meadow grass'. 



Yorkshire fog in flower in the foreground. Courtesy of Robin Stott CC BY-SA 2.0 license. geograph.org.uk

ellow legged gull.Larus michahellis.

The genus name of Larus  is from Greek laros meaning a sea bird.

The specific name of michahellis is named after Karl Michahelles,a German Zoologist and  Physician.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Coccyzus americanus.

The genus name of Coccyzus derives from the Greek kokkuzo meaning to cry cuckoo.

The specific name of americanus alludes to America.


Yellow billed sapsucker. Sphyrapicus varius

The genus name of Sphyrapicus derives from the Greek sphura +pikos meaning a woodpecker.

The specific name of varius means variegated. 

Yellow billed Cuckoo. Courtesy of Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren  CC BY-2.0 license

ellow browed warbler. Phylloscopus inornatus

The genus name of Phylloscopus derives from Phullion -a leaf =skopos -a watcher

The specific name of inornatus derives Latin indicating unadorned.


Yellow wagtail. Motacilla flava

The common name derives from the birds habit of flicking its tail up and down habitually = the colouring.

The genus name Motacilla derives from the Greek muttex a bird described by Hesychius.

The specific name of  flava derives from flavus meaning yellow


Yellow breasted bunting. Emberiza aureola

The genus name of Embriza derives from the Old German word embritz meaning a bunting .

The specific name of aureola derives from Latin aureoulus =golden coloured.

Yellow breasted bunting. Public domain courtesy of Martin Vavrik

ingiber. of ancient origin  probably pre Roman srynga meaning a horn=ver =root giving the Latin Zingiber and eventually the English Ginger,which is obtained from the roots


Zigadenus,derives from the Greek Zyglosmeaning a yoke+aden meaning agland alludes to paired glands.

Zygopetalum.  Derives from the Greek Zyglos a yoke + petalon meaning a petal. The callous at the base of the lip seems to be pulling the perianthe segments together.

Zelkova Latin derived from the caucasian name.

Zea an old Greek name possibly from Zea,meaning a kind of corn. Zea are grass-like plants.

Zebrina =strped {Zebra}  Zephyros -the west wind. Zygos=jointed

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This series is in an A-Z format of common names. For example Scientific names A Scientific names B etc. Click on the relevant content banner at the top of this page.

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