How do we know we are all talking about the same plant? Early records of observers of Native American use of plants for healing and other practices was done by people who were not steeped in technical learning. They appreciated what they observed and wanted to preserve anything they thought important or interesting. They recorded what the Indians hunted with, what they ate and how they observed them using plants in various ways. These early observers used everyday language inspired from nature and left reflections on the things they were learning about. We love to read these records because they tell interesting things in a way that can be understood.
Nature lovers, the first casual observers still exist and are enjoyed by other nature lovers.
Early records often pointed another class of nature students in directions to investigate. These people invented instruments to measure and test new methods of study. They looked at things through microscopes and invented new language words to describe more specifically construction, relationships and how things worked.
These studies of nature were dry and tedious with attention to minute detail. The writings created began to record all the observation in the precise languages of botany and chemistry.
It is not the work that attracts a lot of interest by the general public. These tests and experiments were devised to help us grasp the fundamental principles of life.
However when something goes wrong and our bodies are attacked by disease, the laboratory scientist is sought for solutions. Laboratory students have learned that the methods of study about cause and effect in nature is complex, so subjects have to be broken down into smaller parts and studied individually. Medicinal Botany is an example.
It was observed that plant products can be made to support and heal us, our plants began to be studied for medicinal qualities observed by early nature writers. A problem arises when we realize names we use to designate what we are studying are not always the same words used in different countries or even in different parts of the countries. Languages and the time things were observed also make it difficult to identify the specific plant we are attempting to discuss.
Plants have Latin names due to the genus and species system of naming plants developed by famed Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus. His system is used and expanded upon to this day. Now it is possible for people speaking different languages or studying text written at different times to know they are talking or writing about the same plant.
Continue reading nature lovers who write observations but when wanting explicit information about particular medical plants, learn Latin names to be sure.