Gender of Latin Plant Nouns

Feminine. As a rule, they are feminine.

Here are some examples, with corresponding photographs:

rosa, -ae : rose

caltha, -ae : marigold

īlex, īlicis : Holm Oak

hedera, -ae : ivy
















pīnus, pīnī : (Italic) pine [yes, still feminine]

There are exceptions to this rule, as one may expect.

  • robur, -ōris : oak (n)
  • acer, acēris : maple  (n)

For a better sense of the gender distribution (largely feminine with some neuters), here’s a list of all the Latin names of ‘British’ foliage. Pay attention to the species name (and adjective) to clarify the gender of third declension nouns.

According to A&G, “many names of plants in -us vary between the second and fourth declensions.” They then give no examples. Can you think of any?

The Essential AG: 32, 32b

Famous Phrase: sub rosā [beneath the rose]

A phrase denoting secrecy. The rose was associated with silence, as was given as the symbol of Harpocrates, the god of silence at Rome. In the Middle Ages, a rose hanging over the entrance chamber of a given committee room represented a call for silence about the content of the committee’s discourse.