Professor Stearn gives the meaning and origin of some 6,000 botanical names, selecting those most likely to be encountered by gardeners and horticulturists. No other single source provides so much etymological information for the gardener, much of it out of the way, all of it enlightened by a wealth of detail, the result of years of scholarship and original research. Also listed are 3,000 of the most widely accepted vernacular names, cross-indexed to their correct botanical names. Both the dictionary sections are prefaced by introductions: plant classification and binomial nomenclature are explained, and there are notes on the structure and pronunction of botanical Latin. There are also extensive bibliographies.
William Stearn ((1911-2001) was librarian of the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library, senior principal scientific officer in the Department of Botany at the Natural History Museum and visiting professor in the Department of Botany and Agricultural Botany, University of Reading. In 2000 he was awarded the Asa Gray Award, the highest award of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.