singletail (and flowertail)

The Three Seasons restaurant (which I’ve mentioned here on other occasions) always has a vase of spectacular flowers on its bar. The current arrangement features eremurus. Giant eremurus, very pale pink. Here are some white eremurus in the garden, and an assortment of eremurus in mixed colors:

From the Wikipedia entry:

Eremurus … is a genus of 35-40 deciduous perennial flowers, also known as the foxtail lilies or desert candles. The inflorescence looks similar to a long spike or a bottlebrush. It consists of many flowers in copper, bright yellow, snow white, pastel pink, orange or any combination of those colors.

Each plant has a single spike. (The spikes are notably tall, reaching 10 feet in some species.) Hence the botanical name, roughly ‘singletail’; from OED2:

Etymology:  modern Latin (F. A. Marschall von Bieberstein Centuria Plantarum (1818) 61), < Greek ἐρῆμος solitary + οὐρά tail.

A hardy herbaceous perennial plant of the genus of Liliaceæ so named, native to west and central Asia, and cultivated for its dense racemes of white, yellow, or reddish flowers. [cites from 1836]

Tessa, the Keeper of the Flowers at Three Seasons, paired these giant spikes with orange anthuriums at their base. Here’s a red anthurium:

From Wikipedia:

Anthurium … is a large genus of about 600–800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). Anthurium can also be called “Flamingo Flower” or “Boy Flower”, both referring to the structure of the spathe and spadix.

The spadix is notably phallic.

Anthurium is another ‘tail’ word — this time, ‘flowertail’, with the anth- element as in agapanthus and chrysanthemum and, amazingly, anthology. From OED2:

Etymology:  modern Latin, < Greek ἄνθ-ος flower + οὐρά tail.

A member of the large genus so called of tropical American perennial plants of the family Araceæ. [cites from 1839]

So: singletails and flowertails.

One Response to “singletail (and flowertail)”

  1. Two plants of the season « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] is simply 'flower',  < Greek ἀνθε- (ἄνθος) flower. Brief discussion on this blog here: Anthurium is another ‘tail’ word — this time, ‘flowertail’, with the anth- element as in […]

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