According to the American Society of Pharmacognosy, "Pharmacognosy is the study of natural product molecules (typically secondary metabolites) that are useful for their medicinal, ecological, gustatory, or other functional properties."
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Names are crucial to finding information about plants. Each kind of plant may have many names:
To further complicate things, a name may have been spelled differently at different times.
(For a nice discussion on the topic, check out this Plant Names page.)
There's one more name to know: the family name.
As you do your research, list all the names that refer to the plant that you find, plus its family, and variant spellings.
Why? Because when searching for information on a plant, if you don't search on all of its names, you might miss finding everything you could.
Some books, databases, and other resources you might consult may be organized by family, or by genus. They may have an index listing scientific names, and another index with common names, or an index that lists all of them together.
Sometimes, you may not find information about your particular species in an information resource, but you might find information about its genus. This can still be useful, as all plants in a given genus share common characteristics.
When searching for your plant in a database on the Web, try these tips:
"Ranunculus hawaiensis" OR makou OR "awa kanaloa" OR buttercup