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There seems to be very great uncertainty, among physicians, as to the proper name of this remedy; so much wrong orthography (whether with an “n” or without), wrong orthoepy, wrong specific name, that I have deemed it well worth attention and have taken pains to refer to the original descriptions of the plant. The first step one takes in ascertaining what the plant he has in hand is named, is to take our standard Botany (Professor Gray's Manual) and analyze it. We find it to be there called (page 296) Gelsemium sempervirens. — Ait The generic name pronounced thus, the “g” soft, the second syllable “sem” with a short vowel and accented, the specific name also accented on the antepenult.
Let us now see whether Prof. Gray is right or wrong, and first, as regards the genus. It was established by Jussien (sec his work on “Orders and Genera”) who named it Gelsemium (as Gray had it, without an “n”) from the Italian word Gelsemino, signifying Jessamine. Jussieu gives no species but remarks that Bignonia sempervirens will have to become a Gelsemium instead of Bignonia. Now this is sufficient as regards the genus. The man who made it put no “n” in it; no “n” has a right in it; and botanical authors at this day put no “n” in it. Let us now consider the specific name. Linnaeus first described our plant, calling it Bignonia sempervirens, with doubt as to its being a real Bignonia. — Jussieu has a new genus right for it and suggests that it be placed there, and Aiton, who gives specific descriptions, first places it where it should be, but retains the Linnaen specific name of Sempervirens as is customary and courteous upon removing a plant from one genus to another. Now this is sufficient authority for the specific name, from headquarters. Not only is it obvious that the old specific name should be retained, being appropriate, but Aiton who first described it in its proper genus does retain it, and Botanists now retain it and so describe it. But the “nitidum” — How about it? Michaux in his Flora of North America thought he could give a better name than Linneus, I presume; at least he called the plant G. nitidum. There was no reason for his confusing names thus, and it being unwarrantable, his name has been quietly dropped and only noticed as a synonym.