During our Greek time a little while ago, my daughter and I translated a passage in Matthew that involved the word “tree.” Or, as it would sound in Greek, dendron. Of course, as we’re reading these words out loud, one of our primary interests–being word nerds as we are–is which words are clearly the roots of our English words.

So when we came across dendron I looked out the window at our rhododendron bush–just starting to bloom–and went, “Well, huh. That’s clearly part of that name.”

Being a West Virginia girl, rhododendrons have always been part of my world. They’re the state flower…for good reason. They are EVERYWHERE. They’ve never been my favorite bush/flowering tree, though I’m not sure why. I mean, PURPLE FLOWERS! Totally my thing. And I do love them when they’re blooming. But otherwise…they’re just kinda a big bush with waxy leaves, so “meh” other than in the spring. But regardless of my opinions, this flowering tree has been “much cultivated” for its bright blooms.

I dashed over to check the etymology, and sure enough, rhododendron combines the Greek rhodos (rose) with dendron (tree). Rose trees! That makes me like them more. 😉 The Greeks apparently had these trees or something similar, because rhododendron was a word they used and passed on to the Latin-speakers, who passed it along to the French, who passed it along to English by the 1600s.

Are there any plants whose names you’re curious about?

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