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Saturday, 24 October 2015 02:31

What's In A Name

Written by
Honey mushrooms, Cape Cod, MA Honey mushrooms, Cape Cod, MA

What do the following have in common?  

Witches Butter

Wolf's Milk

Fairy Cups

Black Jelly Roll

No, it's not a menu for a Halloween party. Believe it or not, these are all common names for mushrooms.

Part of my fascination with fungi (see blog post 9 Oct '15 - Writing Fascinations) is the wildly colorful names they've been given. I know Latin terms are more scientific but for sheer weirdness and chill-worthy imagery how can you go past:

Red Tree Brain

Bleeding Mycenae

Fetid Marasmius

Sweating Pluteus

Who thinks up names like these? Someone with a terrific imagination. Can't you just see that Velvet Earth Tongue poking up out of the forest mulch? Or that Trembling Meulius cringing beneath the shadows of a Tortured Willow?

Names like Corpse Finder and Destroying Angel certainly conjure an impression of menace. And the thought of encountering Deadman's Fingers might make you think twice before walking in the woods.

Names are especially important for writers. What we choose to call our characters can convey an immediate sense of who they are. And specifically naming the things in our stories makes our scenes come alive in the minds of readers.

Dogwood or spruce instead of tree.

Deadly Nightshade instead of plant.

Cleftfoot Amanita instead of mushroom.

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