University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor

Perennial Origins and Garden History Quiz

Test your knowledge with this quiz. Click "Answers" to go to them, then use your back button on your browser for the next question. Good luck and have fun!

1. This genus, native to the mountains of Western America, was named after a famous explorer. The common name comes from the taste of its roots, eaten by native Americans, and lends its name to the mountains dividing Idaho and Montana. This is also the state flower of Montana. What is this genus? Answer

2. The largest outdoor collection of desert plants in the world is at this California botanic garden. Do you know the name of this garden? Answer

3. Probably the first legislation for plant protection was fines by the German alpine club for picking this flower. What was this sought after alpine perennial? Answer

4. This fall flower native to North America was introduced to England in the early 1700s by the famous explorer Bartram. As the species easily cross pollinate, making identification difficult, the famous botanist Asa Gray once proclaimed "Never was there so rascally a genus; they reduce me to despair." What was this "rascally" genus? Answer

5. This plant explorer was largely responsible for the development of rock gardening in the early 1900s, and was known then as the "rock garden wizard." He wrote of this in his famous and still used book "The English Rock Garden." Who was this wizard? Answer

6. This strain of primrose was bred early in this century by a concert pianist Florence Bellis. Working in a leaky and remote timber cabin by an oil lamp, she pollinated vulgaris and juliae species to develop what strain? Answer

7. Most primroses have a distinct "eye" in the center of the flowers. One strain of polyantha types, however, does not and was descended from a plant found in a backyard in British Columbia. Named after the city from whence it came, this strain is called what? Answer

8. This primrose, found native in alpine grasslands from Afghanistan to western China, has rounded inflorescences (flower clusters) that give it its common name of what? Answer

9. Primroses were basically white and yellow, with some doubles, until 1638. It was this year that the noted English plantsman and gardener John Tradescant the Younger collected this species while visiting Greece and Turkey. It served as the beginning of breeding colors into primroses. What is this species commonly known as? Answer

10. This bulb was introduced from Turkey to Vienna in 1576. Referred to by Shakespeare in A Winter's Tale, and by the English gardener John Parkinson in 1629 as the finest of lilies, it takes its common name from the imperial gardens of Vienna. What is this most statuesque hardy plant? Answer

11. An ambassador to the Ottoman empire, Busbecq found tulips growing in gardens there and is the first to send them to Europe. He sent them to his friend, head of the Imperial Gardens in Vienna, who later took them to the Netherlands. This was the beginning of the Dutch bulb industry. Who is this famous gardener, who has been described as "the father of all beautiful gardens?" Answer

12. In 1593, the famous gardener Clusius who introduced bulbs and particularly tulips to the Netherlands, founded in Leiden the Hortus Academicus. What was this and why is it noteworthy? Answer

13. America's first botanic garden was founded in 1730 by a Quaker farmer from Pennsylvania who was self-taught in botany. Between 1736 and 1766 this famous botanist traveled the east coast, collecting plants which he kept fresh in ox bladders filled with moss. He introduced at least 200 new plants to England through his collaboration with the famous English botanist Collinson. Who was this important American botanist? Answer



1. Lewisia, Bitterroot after Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark and their 1804-06 expedition. Commissioned by then President Thomas Jefferson, its purpose was to find a water route west, and to record the natural history of the region.

2. Huntington Gardens, north of Los Angeles near Pasadena, was the estate of the millionaire Henry Huntington early in the 20th century.

3. Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) was found on steep sides of the Alps, and so it was a test of devotion in the 1800s for male climbers to scale the dangerous cliffs to pick these for their girlfriends.

4. Asters (from the Greek word for "star" referring to the flower appearance), also known as Michaelmas daisies since they bloom in September at the time of the feast of St. Michael.

5. Reginald Farrer, 1880-1920, from Yorkshire.

6. Barnhaven primroses, noted for their good colors, and true blue variety from the 1940s.

7. Cowichan primroses

8. Drumstick Primrose, Primula denticulata

9. "Turkey Red" primrose, Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii, was named after the English botanist John Sibthorp.

10. Crown Imperial, Fritillaria imperialis, in both orange and yellow forms.

11. Carolus Clusius, 1526-1609, born in France.

12. The Hortus Academicus was the first botanical garden to concentrate on ornamental, rather than medicinal, plants. It's further of interest that although there were tulips in the Netherlands by the time Clusius founded this garden, his on display there were much superior. As he sold these for greatly inflated prices, local gardeners were unwilling to pay his prices so broke into this garden, stole his prize tulips, and these eventually led to the Dutch bulb industry.

13. John Bartram, 1699-1777, whose garden and nursery site still exists as a landmark in Philadephia.

How did you do? If you want to learn more such facts and history about perennials, an excellent reference is The Gardener's Atlas, Dr. John Grimshaw, Firefly Books, 1998.

 Back to The Arcade for more games and quizzes with perennials, or to Perry's Perennial Pages.