Eestikeelsete rahvapäraste taimenimede kategoriseerimine ja selle rakendatavus tänapäeval [Estonian vernacular plant names and the possibilities of modern use of categorization]

Raivo Kalle, Renata Sõukand


The article comprises of naming principles according to systematic botanical and folk categorization in Estonian. First attempts to fix Estonian plant names were made at the beginning of the 1920s, since that multiple vernacular plant names were unified and taught at schools and promoted in the popular literature. Before this time plant names, used by common people, were created based on folk categorization of the plants, where emphasis was on the actual use or appearance of the plant, not on the taxonomy of it. Modern Estonian plant names are created according to the taxonomy of the plant: name of the every species is unique and follows the structure of the Latin name. Still, the names given according to categorization exist in folk use and are well traceable with cultivated plants. To discuss the existing disagreement between two systems, we use as an example vernacular names of Crassula ovata. We analyze Estonian and vernacular names of this plant and explain the new terms endemic name (referring to ad hoc name), correct name (referring to folk understanding of Estonian name), and categorization. The right name of C. ovata in Estonian is portulak-turdleht – the species epithet portulac refers to the shape resemblance to the leaves to the leaves of Portulaca family and genus name turdleht refers to the succulent leaves and is the part of the 46 names of all the species of this genus. As the official name is difficult to pronounce and remember, it is not widespread among laypeople and the plant has gained many ad hoc names. Among them are two established vernacular names that are based on the categorization: ahvileivapuu [monkey bread tree] and kummipuu [rubber tree]. We suggest that name ahvileivapuu belongs to the category exotic plant and kummipuu to the category recalling the feel of rubber. We suggest that folk categorization principles would be considered while naming the plants, as this will make the names more transparent and understandable to wider audience. Also, the use of parallel names as in English and waiving of the use of the strict structure following Latin rules could be helpful.


endemic name, correct name, Crassula ovata, monkey bread tree, etymology of plant names

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ISSN 2504-6616 (print/trükis)

ISSN 2504-6624 (online/võrguväljaanne)