I’m a sucker for trivia questions that ask what a group of a particular type of animal is called? The fun being when the names are distinctive and not what one would expect. Yeah, a pride of lions, a parliament of owls, a memory of elephants have a certain logic to them, but who would ever guess a nursery of raccoons or a skulk of foxes? A quick google search will divulge a rich list of hundreds of distinctive “collective nouns” that convey a sense of familiarity, humor and poetry in describing groups of various types of animals.
But what about plants? If a group of lions is a pride, what is a group of rose bushes?
This is what I pondered last weekend as I sat on my porch enjoying the greening (mostly weeds and a whole lot of pollen) of spring. Over the neighborly hummings of mowers, blowers, trimmers and weed-whackers (What could they be whacking so early in the year?), I tried to imagine houses ringed with lush plantings of home-grown produce. Instead of meticulously trimmed hedges of boxwood, azaleas, and holly, we could have tasteful groupings of tomato, leeks, and basil plants… Hmm, I mean groups of tomato plants next to groups of leek plants, next to … that didn’t sound right either!
What did one call a group of one type of plant that is less than a forest, bed, orchard, field, garden, or lawn? Surely we had some catchy words to distinguish a group of rose bushes from a group of holly bushes or a group of orange trees from a group of birch trees? After all when it came to animals, we didn’t put all felines together as a “scratch of cats” (ya, I made that one up) — we have a pride of lions, a leap of leopards, and an ambush of tigers…
And what about distinctive names for groups of blooms on a plant?
How would one describe the abundance of lush, satiny white, and oh so fragrant, blossoms on my orange tree and the joy they made me feel every time I caught sight of them or smelled their perfume. A cluster or bunch could literally be anything. Spray, posy, and nosegay are about the shape and cut of flowers removed from their plants. Bouquet, though fragrant sounding, is, again, more about cut flowers than blooming plants.
Resorting to another quick google search I got Answers’ answer: “There are no standard collective nouns for plants in general.”
NOOOO! How could it be?
Plants are the nurturers of nature! They are living things AND they are vital to our lives! They clean our air, filter our water, enrich our soil, feed everything in the food chain from microbes to insects, animals, humans, and even other plants… How could it be that we have no witty “collective nouns” to describe groups of various types of plants with familiarity, humor and poetry???!!
As a nature and plant enthusiast I protest this blatant discrimination! Plants are every bit as deserving of our respect — our affection — and our humor!
So I propose we immediately set out to level the plant vs animal collective noun, group by type, playing field and start compiling a list of distinctive terms to describe groups of various types of plants.
And to get the whole “collective noun” plant ball rolling, here is my contributions:
A Tease of Orange Blossoms
Why a tease of orange blossoms?
The fragrance of orange blossoms is sweet and enticing…
While the peel is sour and the fruit is tangy…
The giant waxy green leafs and abundance of waxy white blossoms hide and distract from…
The wickedly sharp, needle length thorns…
But mostly they are a tease because,
Each year my tree produces thousands of orange blossoms…
That become hundreds of tiny bb like fruit…
But fall steadily away, until all I have left is…
A handful of fully ripe, juicy and deliciously sweet oranges.
That is a tease of orange blossoms!
So tell me, what groups of plants do you think are deserving of collective nouns and what terms would you use to describe them with familiarity, humor and poetry and why?
And about those groups of rose bushes… I’d call them — a thorn of roses! After all, the most memorable part of becoming familiar with a group of roses bushes would be the thorns.