ID: 613 / 85

Category: Symposia

Track: Pending


Abstract: The words we use to communicate can ensure a successful transmission of our intentions, or result in our target audience disengaging or walking away in disgust. Plant names and stories are sometimes linked to racism, antisemitism, colonialism, or other offensive or difficult topics. Botanic gardens, who operate at the intersection of plant science, horticulture, and public engagement, are well-suited to address offensive plant common names. Some public gardens are already working to identify and change these names and we have entered this work from a diversity of avenues: by learning that the name of a plant used in a cooking demonstration has racist connotations in some countries, through engagement with indigenous peoples about the names they use for plants and those in common use that bring painful reminders of colonialism, and by receiving feedback about names that offend visitors. One product of these efforts is a database of potentially problematic common names botanical organizations and others can use to begin planning how to better interpret these plants with their local communities, visitors, and colleagues. We interact with the public about plant nomenclature on a daily basis, whether actively with programming or passively with plant labels and interpretive signs, and changing and/or interpreting offensive plant names can help create a more welcoming environment for every visitor. In this symposium, you will hear about the efforts of public garden professionals to begin addressing offensive plant common names throughout our industry in databases, interpretation, plant labels, community engagement, and educational programs and exhibits. The applications of this work reach outside of the public garden sector to include museums, science centers, schools, colleges and universities, municipal parks, state and federal agencies, research institutions, nurseries, and many others.

Speaker 1: Name: Susan Pell Institutional Affiliation: United States Botanic Garden, 245 First St SW, Washington, DC 20515, USA E-mail: Tentative Talk Title: How a Lime Can Lead to Rethinking Plant Labels and Garden Tours

Speaker 2: Name: Jaime Frye Institutional Affiliation: Newfields, 4000 Michigan Road Indianapolis, Indiana 46208, USA E-mail: Tentative Talk Title: Creating a Framework and Database of Potentially Problematic Plant Common Names

Speaker 3: Name: Charles Hunter Institutional Affiliation: Niagara Parks Commission E-mail: Tentative Talk Title: Engaging Indigenous Communities and School of Horticulture in Plant Name Change Conversations

Topics (Up to three): Botanical History

Topic 2: Education and Outreach

Topic 3: n/a

Justification: In light of proposed code amendments to create processes for changing offensive plant scientific names, we thought it would be useful for IBC attendees to hear about the efforts at public gardens to address offensive plant common names. Speakers will present their gardens’ initiatives and share lessons learned. Our goal is to help inform conversations about the proposed ICN changes and engage botanists and public garden professionals alike in these important debates.