Meanings of Alpine Plant Names

Botanical plant names are both easier to understand and remember when you know their meanings. Some give you information about the habitat or geographical origins of the plant. Some are named after people, perhaps the person who introduced it to another country, or others may be commemorative. Many describe the colour of flowers or leaves, the texture of the foliage or the shape of foliage, whether the plant is large or small and the habit of the plant.

Below are some examples of alpine plant names and their meanings.

Featured Plant Name

Sempervivum 'Kappa'

The name Sempervivum comes from the Latin semper - always, and vivus - alive. Sempervivums look good all the year round with their evergreen rosettes. This attractive cultivar, S. 'Kappa' is currently available in our shop.

Sempervivum Kappa


From the Arabic, alkemelych, meaning alchemy.

A. erythropoda - red stalked


From the Greek for garlic.

A. lusitanicum - Portuguese

A. senescens - growing old


From the Latin 'aquila', meaning eagle and referring to the shape of the flower.

A. alpina - alpine

A. flabellata  - fan shaped (leaves)



From the Latin for Dianthus, referring to a resemblance between the plants. One common name of sea pink also reflects this. They are, however, from different families. 

A. maritima - growing near the sea



From the Latin for a star, referring to the flower heads.

A. alpinus - alpine


From the Latin 'campana' - a bell, describing the shape of the flowers.
C. cochlearifolia - from the Latin, cochlear meaning spoon, and folia meaning leaf, referring to the shape of the basal leaves.

C. portenschlagiana - named after the Austrian botanist, Franz von Portenschlag-Ledermeyer

C. rotundifolia - round leaves, referring to the basal leaves.


From the Greek, 'gypsos', gypsum, and 'philos', loving. This refers to the fact that some prefer lime.

G. cerastiodes - resembling the plant Cerastium.


Named after Captain Meriwether Lewis who led an expedition, along with William Clark, to the Western part of the US states in 1806-1807.
L. cotyledon - resembling Cotyledon, a genus of succulents with cup shaped leaves. Cotyledon comes from the Greek, 'kotyle' - a small cup.


From the Greek 'moschos', meaning musk and referring to the scent of some Muscari.

M. armeniacum - from Armenia.


From the Latin 'potens' meaning powerful or potent.



From the Latin 'primus' meaning first and referring to the early flowers.

P. allionii - named after Carlo Allioni and Italian botanist.

P. auricula - from the Latin, 'auricula' meaning an ear and referring to the leaves which are supposed to resemble bears' ears.


From the Latin 'pulsare', to ring or strike.

P. vulgaris - common


From the Greek 'rhodon', a rose.

R. pachyclados - thick shoot.  


From the Latin 'rosula' meaning a little rose, or rosette.

R. aizoon - from the ancient Greek for ever living.


From the Latin 'sapo' for soap, and 'aria' meaning pertaining to. 

S. ocymoides - from the Ltin 'ocimum' looking like basil.


From the Latin 'saxum' - a rock, and 'frango' - to break.
S. paniculata - flowers in panicles


From the Latin semper - always, and vivus - alive.

S. arachnoideum - sider's web

S. calcareum - chalky

S. tectorum - growing on roofs



The Greek name meaning an iris like plant.

S. bellum - the Latin for beautiful.

S. macrocarpum - meaning large fruit.