Today a flower that is not so rare as yesterday’s – quite the opposite, in fact.
It’s ‘common’ name is the Nasturtium and the Latin one, Tropaeolum majus. The Latin name has a most unlikely origin.
Tropaeolum majus was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy”.
He chose the genus name because the plant reminded him of an ancient custom: After victory in battle, the Romans erected a trophy pole (or tropaeum, from the Greek tropaion, source of English “trophy”) on which the vanquished foe’s armour and weapons were hung. The plant’s round leaves reminded Linnaeus of shields, and its flowers, which are on long, ‘pole like’ stems, of blood-stained helmets!