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Asimina triloba

david.j.daulton djd at cbnewsg.cb.att.com
Sat Mar 13 17:19:48 EST 1993

While looking up *Asimina triloba* (common pawpaw) in one reference,
I was surprised to see "meaning unknown" beside the generic name *Asimina*.
The species name is evidently "three lobed", but how could Linnaeus (or
whoever) just stick in a genus name that doesn't mean anything?  Or did it mean
something to him and we lost track?  Or was his Latin so bad we can't
figure out what he was trying to get at?

I read through "How Plants Get Their Names" by L.H. Bailey, but found nothing
about this.  (This is not the first time I have encoutered apparent nomenclature
nonsense.  I once found a reference that told me Linnaeus called
nasturtiums "Tropaeolum" because their seeds reminded him of little Roman
helmets.  Seriously?)  Anyway, two question:

1.  Can anyone hazard a guess about where "Asimina" came from?
2.  How can it be that there are Linnaean names for which we have no

Dave Daulton, Columbus, Ohio

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