More Information About Plants Named After Animals
Commemorate a favorite pet or grow an amusing menagerie garden with plants named after animals.
Some gardeners have a coy sense of humor and like to plant gardens with amusing themes. Others like to commemorate a beloved pet by planting a symbolically named plant in the garden. In both cases, gardeners need to start their garden shopping with a list of plants named after animals. Here at Plant Delights Nursery, we have an enormous on-line plant catalog and have searched through it to create this mini-catalog of plants named after animals that also look great in the landscape.
Botanists and taxonomists who name plants will often use a unique looking plant part as inspiration for part of the species or genus name. If the plant has a part that reminds some mothball sniffing taxonomist of an animal, the taxonomist will create a Latin-based zoographical name for the genus or species. For instance, the fern genus arachniodes is named from the greek "arachnion" (spider's web) due to the resemblance of the finely dissected foliage of some species. Echinacea and echinopsis got their genus names from the similarity of parts of the plants to a spiny organism like a sea urchin, echidna (spiny anteater) or hedgehog. Leonotis and equisetum were named after lions and horses respectively, and Dracunculus was named for dragons.
More frequently, a plant is given an animal-based common name when a group of non-scientists liken a plant part or plant use to an animal. These plants named after animals can be from any language. Some English examples include: elephant ear for colocasia, alocasia and remusatia, bear's breech for acanthus, cobra lily for arisaema, goatsbeard for aruncus, and cattail for acalypha.
Also, horticultural marketers, in a bid to find a name that will generate sales, will often create plants named after animals by giving them appealing zooic cultivar names: Begonia 'Heron's Pirouette' and Bletilla 'Chinese Butterfly' for example.
List of plants named after animals sorted by animal name
Alien (stretching the definition of animal, I know. Just go with it) - Vulcan - Hosta 'Vulcan'
Bear - Acanthus (Bear's Breech), Nolina (Bear Grass)
Bee - Aloysia (Beebrush), Buddleia 'Honeycomb' (a stretch, I know), Monarda (Bee Balm)
--- Blue Jay - Hosta 'Blue Jay'
--- Canary - Abutilon 'Canary Bird'
--- Cardinal - Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
--- Chick - Hosta 'Dixie Chick'
--- Chickadee - Hosta 'Dixie Chickadee'
--- Crane - Arisaema heterophyllum (Dancing Crane Cobra Lily), Geranium (Cranesbill), Zingiber 'Dancing Crane'
--- Egg - Lantana 'Ham and Eggs'
--- Elepaio (a rare Hawaiian Flycatcher Bird) - Colocasia 'Elepaio'
--- Firebird - Echinacea 'Firebird'
--- Flamingo - Epimedium 'Flamingo Dancer', Habranthus 'Pink Flamingos', Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingos'
--- Gamecock - Iris 'Black Gamecock'
--- Guinea fowl - Aruncus 'Guinea Fowl'
--- Hens and Chicks - Echeveria, Sempervivum
--- Heron - Begonia 'Heron's Pirouette'
--- Hummingbird - Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Anisacanthus (Hummingbird bush), Dicliptera (Hummingbird Plant)
--- Kiwi - Asarum campaniflorum (Kiwi Wild Ginger)
--- Ostrich - Astilbe 'Staussenfeder' (Ostrich Plume Astilbe), Matteucia (Ostrich Fern)
--- Pigeon - Rivina (Pigeonberry)
--- Phoenix - Phoenix Palm Tree
--- Raven - Tricyrtis ravenii (in this case, Raven is a man's last name)
--- Robin - Erigeron (Robin's Plantain), Lychnis (Ragged Robin)
--- Whipporwill - Cypripedium (sometimes called Whipporwill shoe), Trillium cuneatum Whipporwill toadshade)
Bug - Beesia (False Bugbane), Cimicifuga (Bugbane), Sarracenia 'Doodlebug', Sarracenia 'Redbug'
Bunny - see Rabbit
Butterfly - Asclepias (Butterfly weed), Buddleia (butterfly bush), Caryopteris 'Blue Butterflies', Bletilla 'Chinese Butterfly', Iris (Butterfly Iris), Moraea (Butterfly Iris)
Camel - Cypripedium (sometimes called Camel's foot)
Cat - Acalypha (Cattail), Nepeta (Catmint), Teucrium (Cat Thyme, Kitty Crack), Onychium (Cat's Claw Fern), Pycnanthemum 'Cat Springs'
Cobra - see snake
Coral - Colocasia 'Black Coral', Erythrina (Coral Bean)
Deer - Blechnum (Deer Fern), Carphephorus (Deer Tongue)
Devil - Dahlia (certain double flowered forms are called Devil's Blooms)
--- Chihuahua - Salvia greggii (sometimes called Chihuahuan Sage)
Dragon - Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon Jack-in-the-Pulpit), Dracunculus (Dragon Lily), Hosta 'Dragon Tails', Hosta 'Komodo Dragon', Ligularia 'Chinese Dragon', Persicaria 'Red Dragon', Pinellia (Green Dragon)
Elephant - Colocasia, Alocasia, Remusatia, Xanthosoma (Elephant Ear)
--- Tusk - Hosta 'Blue Ivory'
Ermine - Canna 'Ermine'
Fairy - Caryopteris 'Snow Fairy', Disporum (Fairy Bells), Epimedium (Fairy Wings), Zephyranthes (sometimes known as Fairy Lily)
Fish - Cyrtomium 'Go Fish' (Fish Tail Holly Fern)
--- Koi - Iris 'Flashing Koi'
--- Trout - Erythronium (Trout Lily)
--- Yellow Tail (a type of fish) - Alocasia 'Yellow Tail'
Fly - Lychnis (Catchfly), Silene (Catchfly)
Fox - Digitalis (Foxglove), Pennisetum 'Foxtrot', Sinningia conspicua (Brazillian Foxglove), Titanotrichum (Woodland Foxglove)
Giant (as in the mythological creature) - Colocasia 'Jack's Giant'
Goat - Aruncus (Goatsbeard), Epimedium (Horny Goatweed)
HedgeHog - Echinacea (derived from echinos which means spiny like a hedgehog), Juniperus 'Echiniformis' (Hedgehog Juniper)
Horse - Agave 'Crazy Horse', Equisetum (Horsetail)
--- Black Beauty (A fictional horse) - Colocasia 'Black Beauty'
Jaguar - Manfreda 'Jaguar'
Leopard - Belamcanda (Leopard Lily)
Lion - Leonotis (Lion's Ear, Lion's Tail)
--- Komodo Dragon - Hosta 'Komodo Dragon'
Lobster - Heliconia (Lobster Claws)
Monkey - Liriope (Monkeygrass)
Monster (Go with it)
--- Swamp Thing - Hosta 'Swamp Thing'
--- Luna Moth - Hosta 'Luna Moth'
Mouse - Amorphophallus myosuroides (Mousetail Voodoo Lily), Arisarum proboscideum (Mouse plant, Mouse Tail Arum), Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears', Hosta 'Frosted Mouse Ears', Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'
Ox - Chrysanthemum (sometimes called Ox-Eye Daisy), Heliopsis (Ox-Eye Daisy), Rhodophiala (Oxblood Lily), Zexmenia (Ox-eye)
Panda - Asarum maximum (Panda Wild Ginger), Lycoris 'Golden Panda'
Pig - Bergenia (Pigsqueak), Helicodiceros (Pig Butt Arum)
--- Ham - Lantana 'Ham and Eggs'
--- Hog - Begonia heracleifolia (Hogweed leaf Begonia)
Porcupine - Agave 'Porcupine', Agave striata (Porcupine Agave)
Puma - Setcreasea 'Pale Puma'
Rabbit - Araiostegia (Rabbit's Foot Fern), Carex laxiculmis (Bunny Blue Sedge), Davallia (Rabbit's foot fern)
Rhinocerus - Hosta 'Rhino Hide'Shark - Agave 'Jaws', Agave xylonacantha (Shark's tooth Agave)
Slug / Snail
--- Escargot - Farfugium 'Escargot'Snake - Chlorophytum (Snake Lily), Ophiopogon (Snake beard)
--- Cobra - Arisaema (several species are called Cobra Lily)
--- Serpent - Dahlia (sometimes called Serpent Tongue)
Spider - Agave bracteosa, A. horrida (Spider Agave), Hymenocallis (Spider Lily), Lucoris (Spider Lily), Tradescantia (Spiderwort)
--- Cobweb - Iris 'Cobweb Concerto'
--- Web - Arachniodes (means spider's web)
Squirrel - Cypripedium (sometimes called Squirrel's foot)
Tick - Coreopsis (Tickseed)
Tiger - Canna 'Bengal Tiger', Leonotis 'Snow Tiger', Musa 'Bengal Tiger'
Toad - Tricyrtis (Toad Lily), Trillium (Toadshade)
Turtle - Chelone (Turtlehead)
Whale - Agave ovatifolia (Whale's Tongue Agave)
Worm - Artemisia (Wormwood)
Zebra - xHeucherella 'Golden Zebra', Hosta 'Zebra Stripes', Primula 'Zebra Blue'
List of plants named after animals sorted by animal part
--- Bill - Geranium (Cranesbill)
Beard - Aruncus (Goatsbeard), Ophiopogon (Snake beard)
Blood - Rhodophiala (Oxblood Lily)
Butt - Helicodiceros (Pig Butt Arum)
Claw - Epimedium 'Sandy Claws', Heliconia (Lobster Claws), Onychium (Cat's Claw Fern)
Ear - Colocasia, Alocasia, Remusatia, Xanthosoma (Elephant Ear), Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears', Hosta 'Frosted Mouse Ears', Leonotis (Lion's Ear)
Eye - Chrysanthemum (sometimes called Ox-Eye Daisy), Helopsis (Ox-eye Daisy), Zexmenia (Ox-eye)
Feather - Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass), Nasella (Feather Grass), Stipa, Zingiber 'White Feather'
Foot - Araiostegia (Rabbit's Foot Fern), Cypreipedium (Aphrodite's slipper/shoe, Camel's foot, Squirrel foot, Whipporwill Shoe, Venus' shoe), Davallia (Rabbit's foot fern), Viola pedata (Bird-foot Violet)
Head - Chelone (Turtlehead)
Heart - Asarum (sometimes called heartleaf)
Jaws - Agave 'Jaws'
Nose - Antirrhinum (greek for 'like a nose')
--- Elephant's trunk - Arisarum proboscideum
Phallus - Amorphophallus
--- Fleece - Solidago 'Golden Fleece'
--- Hide - Hosta 'Rhino Hide'
--- Stripes - Hosta 'Zebra Stripes'
Tail - Acalypha (Cattail), Alocasia 'Yellow Tail', Amorphophallus myosuroides (Mousetail Voodoo Lily), Arisarum proboscideum (Mouse Tail Arum), Cyrtomium 'Go Fish' (Fish Tail Holly Fern), Equisetum (Horsetail), Hosta 'Dragon Tails', Leonotis (Lion's Tail), Pennisetum 'Tall Tails'
Tongue - Dahlia (sometimes called Serpent Tongue), Pyrrosia (Tongue Fern)
Tooth - Agave xylonacantha (Shark's tooth Agave)
--- Tusk - Hosta 'Blue Ivory'