Aug 7, 2011 7:28 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Clematis I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I was listening to an NPR program called "A Way with Words" and this segment caught my attention. If you want to hear the piece google NPR A Way with Words August 7 or the author of this blog is Gary Allen, June 2010

"In 1968, James Lipton (yes, that James Lipton) published An Exaltation of Larks, an utterly delightful collection of terms of venery -- that is, the words used to describe groups of animals (such as "a pride of lions," "a gaggle of geese," or "a murder of crows"). He also included a set of what we might call venereal puns, supposedly uttered by several professors upon noticing a group of prostitutes. One called them "a jam of tarts," another, "an essay of Trollope's," another, "an anthology of prose," and yet another, "a flourish of strumpets." Lipton continued in a similar vein -- but such pleasures should be reserved for people who still read actual books.

Putting such illuminating diversions aside, my wife Karen and I were wondering why there are so many collective terms for members of the animal kingdom, yet so few for plants. There are only a few, so we (and various friends and relatives we managed to rope in) set out to even the score a bit.

Here are some of our new-found terms of venery:

A joy of Almonds

A flight of Aspidistra
(with apologies to George Orwell)

A flatulence of Beans

A tintinnabulation of Bellflowers

A liberal of Bleedinghearts

An oleo of Bluebonnets

A ramekin of Buttercups

A flutter of Butterflybushes

A wedding of Cannas

A chest of Cedars

A bowl of Cherry Blossoms

A cliché of Chestnuts

A flick of Chickweed

An eddy of Currants

A dalliance of Dahlias

A duke of Daisies

A leash of Dogwoods

A nodding of Elders

A roberta of Flax

A reminder of Forget-Me-Nots

A wrath of Grapes

An alpert of Herbs

A wreck of Hesperus
(with apologies to Longfellow)

A wetnurse of Honeysuckles

A luego of Hosta

A haste of Impatiens

A jennifer of Junipers

A chewing of Kudzu

A silence of Lamb's Ears

A stan of Laurels

A gilding of Lilies

A harry of Limes
(with apologies to Graham Greene)

A plague of Locusts

An osculation of Mistletoe

A mar of Mallows

A fluff of Marshmallows

A cowl of Monkshood

An echo of Narcissi

A greg of Nettles

A compliance of Obedience Plants

A harlot of Painted Ferns

A greasing of Palms

A nancy of Pansies

A ream of Paperwhites

A crime of Passionflowers

A gallery of Peanuts

A urinal of Pecans

A shepherd of Phlox

A rash of Poison Ivy

A mommy of Poppies

A murmur of Rhubarbs

A war of Roses

A rasputin of Russian Sage

A roe of Shadblows

A titillation of Teasels

A best (or worst) of Thymes

A pursing of Tulips

A betty of Veronicas

A shyness of Wallflowers

A coven of Witch Hazels
And last, but not least:
A removal of Worts

The author (and his accomplices) are quick to point out that any perceived slurs, of any kind whatsoever, are purely unintentional. We trust that no offense will be taken by any fruit, vegetable or weed whose name appears here. Besides, we are mystified as to the manner in which such scurrilous phrases have managed to find their way onto these august pages.

posted by Gary Allen at 4:16 PM

Anonymous Cynthia Bertelsen said...

Utterly brilliant, Gary!
June 5, 2010 5:08 AM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Thanks, Cynthia... but these things just make themselves up. Karen and I were shouting them out faster than Karen could write them down (I was driving... and my handwriting, even when I'm not driving, is unreadable by most humans).
June 5, 2010 9:04 AM
Anonymous Michael said...

You just made my morning with this post.

Now I feel the need to come up with some of my own.
June 6, 2010 2:05 PM
Blogger The Old Foodie said...

absolutely hilarious Gary; you and Karen have done the English language a great service. I wonder how long it will take them to read the OED?
June 6, 2010 3:34 PM
Anonymous Gary said...

Michael: Send 'em along! If this ever does turn into a book, I'll be glad to appropriate your ideas (and, naturally, claim them as my own).

Janet: "A great service?" If anything, we've merely added to the world's glut of time-wasters.

Oh wait... isn't "glut of time-wasters" another collective noun? Now see what you've done...
June 7, 2010 11:03 AM
Blogger Tony said...

I sent a link to the blog on to my pals James and Kedakai Lipton. She was the illustrator of the book which continues to be sold worldwide to this day.
Tony Hitchcock, HITS Horse Shows
June 8, 2010 8:20 AM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Thanks, Tony... I've been a fan of his book since it first came out (I suppose that must have been obvious).
June 8, 2010 9:43 AM
Blogger Ken Albala said...

THis is hilarity! THough I'm going to resist the temptation to start doing this myself now!
July 3, 2010 9:50 AM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

It's difficult to stop, once started... despite the pleading looks from those around you to do so.
July 3, 2010 11:40 AM
Blogger padmavyuha said...

Thanks - I particularly enjoyed the roberta of Flax, for some reason.

As Hamlet might have mused: aye, there's the shrub.
October 30, 2010 4:48 AM
Blogger padmavyuha said...

You could have called this list Puns & Roses, of course...
October 30, 2010 7:10 AM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Well played, Padmavyuha!
October 30, 2010 8:26 AM
Blogger Al said...

I might suggest an alternative of "a Vista of Hostas" in the same spirit of pop culture reference that you have given several of the rest.
October 30, 2010 10:21 AM
Blogger Torchy said...


How about a horse of radishes?

--Jim Stevenson
October 30, 2010 12:49 PM
Blogger anyclot said...

A net of puns?
October 30, 2010 3:33 PM
Blogger daltona said...

Flowers were given short shrift, so...

A fire of ashes
A rathbone of basil
An ego of narcissus
A whimper of pines
A blush of pinks
An itch of poison ivy
A touchiness of sensitive plant
A rev-up of speedwell
October 31, 2010 2:05 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Al: our first thought was "a la vista of hostas" but I chose "luego" because it was only one word -- but you're right, the cinematic reference is broader than the high school Spanish.

Jim: "a horse of radishes" is sharp and tasty!

Daltona: some of your were addressed in slightly different form (such as "An echo of narcissi," and "A rash of poison ivy") but

"A rathbone of basil" is fantastic.

These are good, and will probably wind up used in similar form
(A whimper of pines, A blush of pinks, A fire of ashes, A rev-up of speedwell).

Something like "A touchiness of sensitive plant" was included in an earlier draft but is still waiting for a touch-up or two.


Needless to say, if any of these ever appear in book form, as contributors you will be acknowledged! Each of you should send the name you would like to be known by to
October 31, 2010 4:36 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Apparently, fellow punsters, I cannot include an e-mail address in these comments. If you scroll to the top of the original posts there's a "Contact" tab where you can reach me directly.
October 31, 2010 4:40 PM
Blogger anyclot said...

band of brassicas

knowledge of onions

cabinet of leeks

shoe of cabbages

hasness of beans

queue of peas

kith of pumpkin
October 31, 2010 6:00 PM
Blogger Julia Miller said...

These are all wonderful. What a great start to my week.
How about a shrink of sensitive plant?
October 31, 2010 8:10 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Anyclot: how about a weeping of onions, or a plugging of leeks?

Julia: I'm sure there's something perfect for sensitive plant, but I'm still trying too & not quite there yet...
October 31, 2010 9:20 PM
Blogger Anthony said...

Maybe "a context of sensitive plants?"
November 1, 2010 1:21 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

This is a tricky one, isn't it Anthony? I keep trying things like "a hyper of..." or "an overly of..." or "a photo of...".

Still not there yet.
November 1, 2010 5:54 PM
Blogger Julia Miller said...

A few more (though they're not all puns ):
A charlie of Brazil nuts
A haiku of cherry blossoms
A fuzz of peaches
A buttery of parsnips
A herring-box of clementines
A house of oranges
A peep of pecans
A worry of dogwort
A shrink of violets
A ruff/frill of curly endive
An ear of cauliflowers
A rash of nettles

What fun. ABC Classic FM Breakfast in Australia asked for collective nouns for opera singers, but unfortunately I can't find the suggestions on their website. I think there was a chest of dames, and a decolletage of divas, but I can't remember accurately.
November 1, 2010 11:37 PM
Blogger yokohamamama said...

A friend sent me a link to your wonderful blog:)) What an you've discovered! How about:

a Sigh of Wisteria
a Howl of Lupines
a Fiddle of Ferns
a Longing of Pines
a Twist of Lemongrass
a Galaxy of Cosmos
and a great one my friend thought of:
a Calendar of Dates:))
(my mother is hooked now, too)
November 2, 2010 9:42 AM
Anonymous Daz said...

A gathering of moss.
A stool-pigeon of grass.
A trapping of firs.
A golightly of hollies.

I am that friend. Great game indeed!
November 2, 2010 9:51 AM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Julia: I love"A fuzz of peaches," "A house of oranges,and "An ear of cauliflowers." We already have "A rash of Poison Ivy, but how about "A stinging of Nettles?"

yokohamamama: Not bad at all -- but
"A Galaxy of Cosmos" and"A Calendar of Dates" are just fantastic!

Daz: "A gathering of Moss[ses]" and "A golightly of Hollies" are delightful additions to the list.

Please, all of you, e-mail me through the "Contact" tab at the top of the original post -- I'd love to credit all the people who have made such wonderful suggestion (in the event that a book is ever made of all these terms of venery -- or should I say "terms of vegery?"
November 2, 2010 10:12 AM
Blogger Julia Miller said...

What wonderful new additions from Yokohamamama and Daz.
How about a grasp of nettles?
November 2, 2010 7:12 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A cesspool of bureaucrats?
November 3, 2010 6:35 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

Anonymous: Admittedly, some of our bureaucrats are practically vegetables... but that's not the kind we're talking about here.
November 3, 2010 6:39 PM
Blogger Gary Allen said...

The radio show, "A Way with Words," recently featured our collective terms. Google the individual show's title, "A Roberta of Flax" to listen to it.

The show's listeners have contributed many, many more examples via their comments on the website.
December 3, 2010 8:01 AM "
Aug 7, 2011 8:21 PM CST
Name: Linda Williams
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Bookworm Enjoys or suffers hot summers Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs
Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder
I think "cesspool" says a lot about bureaucrats!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Aug 8, 2011 10:26 AM CST
Name: Carey
Austin, TX (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Dog Lover Container Gardener Tropicals Roses
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Plumerias Orchids Plant and/or Seed Trader Butterflies Garden Ideas: Level 2
I had a great thought to add:

How about:

"A Darling of Clementines"
"A Story of Morning Glory" (reference to an album by the band "Oasis")

Big Grin
Avatar for sanscravat
Aug 29, 2012 9:06 AM CST

This list has now grown into a Kindle book -- with 239 entries, each with color photo and botanical info. You can find out more about it at
May 4, 2016 7:49 AM CST Admin
Name: Trish
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
Anna- do you mind if I use your hard work here to post these as fun interactive things on our facebook page?
I'll happily give attribution to both you and NPR Big Grin
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and do-er of many fun things.
May 4, 2016 6:38 PM CST
Name: JoJo
Texas (Zone 8b)
Bee Lover Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers Irises
Hibiscus Garden Art Frogs and Toads Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies
A flight of Dragonflies
Thanks Anna, this is just what my brain needs Thumbs up
Gardening is learning, learning, learning. That's the fun of them.
You're always learning !
Helen Mirren
May 4, 2016 9:59 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Clematis I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
Go for it! It would be nice to put a smile on lots of faces.
May 5, 2016 1:05 PM CST Admin
Name: Trish
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
A good pun is always a good thing, IMHO Smiling
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and do-er of many fun things.
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