COLLECTIVE NOUNS

 

A collective noun (aka company term) is a word used to describe a collection or group of things, like pack or kennel of dogs. This practice goes back many centuries. Perhaps the most extensive early reference was the Book of St Albans (1486) which listed “a compilation of matters relating to the interests of the time of a gentleman.” More recently, James Lipton produced An Exaltation of Larks (1st ed, 1968) in which he brings to light the term venery - an ancient practice denoting specific groups of individual animals primarily as it relates to “the hunt.” The Game of Venery, started in the 15th century by English gentry, consists of creating poetic collective nouns and the challenge of knowing and using them appropriately. I introduced students to wordsmithery and collective nouns in my biology classes often using selections as extra credit on tests. The students liked the practice; many would immediately turn to the bonus section. But one thing that always troubled me as a botanist and gardener was how animal centric the terms are. Accordingly, over the years I have accumulated a list of collective nouns related to gardening and plants - terms of vegery. These company terms are lifted from various sources (thank you), but some (1/3) are original - my contrivance. "Why?" you might ask. Why not? As you will discover, many are whimsical as well as instructive (largely based on a quality or association), with a distinctively midwestern flavor. Some of the listings have more than one collective noun with the selection frequently due to exactly what is being described; defined for some. A few collective nouns are technical and longstanding, with the quantified thing omitted or implied (e.g., corolla). However, most are generally an informal part of language (i.e., there is often no standard), but you may be surprised at just how many have become part of accepted everyday lingo. I offer this contemporary and evolving compilation (see below) for you to use and enjoy. Contact THE MAD BOTANIST with corrections and/or additions. Attribution appreciated.

 

TERMS MOSTLY NOT EMPLOYED (in my list), too generic (i.e., broadly applicable): bag, bale, basket, bed, bouquet, bunch, bundle, cache, clump, cluster, collection, colony, community, covering, crate, field, flat, forest, group, grove, handful, harvest, line, load, orchard, passel, patch, pile, plantation, plot, population, row, sack, stack, stand or tray. Also excluded are most specific measures (e.g., bushel, cord). If multiple entries, listed alphabetically and without preference. Nor do I admire or concur with all the choices. Finally, the bulk of things being collectivized are listed as plural (e.g., drift of dandelions), but this seems awkward, redundant and inconsistent (e.g., bundle of asparagus or bag of seed{s} - where asparagus and seed are collective singulars). I await a ruling from professional linguists.

MAD BOTANIST'S LIST OF COLLECTIVE NOUNS (and some key plural nouns) FOR GARDENING & PLANTS

[for all] a (an) _______

 

sledge or slip of acorns

cling of adhering plant parts

advance of aggressive native species

bloom of algae

joy of almonds

androecium (all the stamens of a flower)

sea of anemones

army, bike, colony, nest or swarm of ants

ooze or standstill of aphids

barrel or crisp of apples (picked)

orchard of apple trees

ascent or climb of arborists

bundle, delicacy or stink of asparagus

pando or trembling of aspens (see also genet)

dangling of bag worms

bunch, comb or hand of bananas (fruit)

cloud of bats

hill or flatulence of beans

holiday of beeches

bike, cluster, drift, erst, game, grist, hive, hum, nest, rabble, stand or swarm of bees

punnet of berries

tangle of bindweed

arsenal of biocides

peel of birches

congregation, flock or roost of birds (numerous species specific nouns)

dissimulation of (small) birds

shiner of black-eyed Susans

flourish of blossoms

haze of bluebells

bounty of blueberries or huckleberries

oleo of bluebonnets

library of books

congeries, mountain, pile, train or wall of boulders

foray or gathering of botanists (in field)

chamber of boxwoods

brake of brackens

aggregate, barrier, tangle or thicket of brambles/briars

band of brassicas

retreat of British soldiers (a fruticose lichen)

coven of (witches') brooms

bavin of brushwood or kindling

luck of buckeyes

eruption or surprise of bulbs

annoyance or matting of burs (plant hitchhikers)

hedge or shrubbery of bushes (see also shrubs)

flutter of butterflies

pain of cacti (see also fungus)

calyx (all the sepals of a flower)

conclave of cardinals

McGregor of carrots (in situ)

army of caterpillars

rise of cattails (or other emergent plants)

cliché or minefield of chestnuts (fruits, since forests {plural collective noun} were annihilated by blight)

ember of chili peppers

anxiety or burrow of chipmunks

choir, drone, plague or swarm of cicadas

bank, billow, cover, menagerie, pageant or soufflé of clouds

field, lock or spread of clover

committee or flock of cockscombs

cluster of coconuts

blight or damnation of common reed (Phragmites)

convention of coneflowers

dropping, kick, scattering or shock of cones

consortium or pinetum of conifers (see also pines)

hope of conservation biologists

reef of coralberries

sheath or tassel of corn (in situ)

snitch or shock of corn (pile of stalks)

ear of corn (conglomerate of individual fruits, caryopses)

corolla (all the petals of a flower)

galaxy of cosmos

bale of cotton (harvested)

orchestra or stridulation of crickets

crop (could be a collective noun for a specific thing {e.g., corn}, whereas crops is a collective noun (general or specific) that may refer to several areas/fields or to different things {e.g., corn and soybean})

company or expanse of crocuses (or other perennializing bulbous species)

field, monoculture or revolution of crop scientists

murder of crows

enlargement of cucumbers

sprawl of cucurbits (see also squash)

diversity of cultivars

eddy of currants

host of daffodils

delight of dahlias

bumstead of daisies

drift or host of dandelions

calendar of dates

diurnum of daylilies

browsing, nuisance or herd of deer

destruction or ignorance of developers

avoidance of devil's walking sticks

outbreak of disease (epiphytotic)

pack of dogwoods

herbarium of dried plants

raft of duckweed

niche of ecologists

nodding or wisdom of elderberries

crusade of environmentalists

occasion of ephemerals

chain of events

field or plain of farmers

encroachment of fence builders

fernery, fiddle or frondage of ferns

confusion of figworts/scrophs

conflagration of fireflies

bundle or faggot of firewood

stole of firs

beat, loc, Roberta, shrive, stock or strike of flax

flora (plants of a particular region or habitat)

arrangement, bed, bouquet or patch of florists

cache or caste of flowerpots

anthology, arrangement, boughpot, bouquet, bunch, chaplet, corsage, embroidery, fascicle, festoon, garland, nosegay, posy, potpourri, sheaf, spray, tress or vase of flowers (picked and arranged)

display of flowers (in situ, single plant)

flourish, garden or patch of flowers (in situ, multiple plants)

inflorescence (arrangement of flowers on a plant) specific types (ament/catkin, capitulum/head, corymb, cyme, glomerule, panicle, raceme, spike, thyrse, umbel, verticil, etc.)

board foot, coopstalk or xylarity of foresters

spread of forsythias

extinction or layer of fossils

enchantment, evocation or intoxication of fragrant plants

Frankenstein of GMOs

cornucopia of fruit(s) pl. if more than one type (see also infructescence)

harvest of fruit (from an area)

bounty or yield of fruit (all produced by a single plant)

   mast (fruit of forest trees and shrubs; also refers to heavy intermittent production)

colony or troop of fungi (see also mushrooms)

fungi (collection of at least two species)

fungus (collection of two or more of the same species); also applicable to cacti, moss, etc.; funguses is clumsy and grating, as is algaes and cactuses

gushing of galls

garden (see plants)

repose of garden/patio furniture

allotment, compost, dig, society, solitude or sprinkling of gardeners

compaction or glee of garden visitors

gaggle of geese

genet (colony of genetically identical individuals produced asexually, each individual plant being a ramet)

conglomerate of geologists

stink-o of ginkgos

elicat of gloves

gobsmack of gomphrenas

opulence or wealth of goldenrods

regret of gout weed (or other difficult to eradicate introduced ornamentals)

grain (general collective noun; the relationship between rice (e.g.) and grain is NOT group / member, but substance / particle - think water)

bunch, cluster or wrath of grapes

vineyard of grapes (whole plants)

patch, tuft or tussock of grass (small area or individual)

lawn, math or turf of grass(es)

fistful, mop or whisk of grasses

cloud of grasshoppers

mess of greens

groundcover (low-growing, spreading plants, one or more species)

gynoecium (all the pistils of a flower)

gathering of harvesters

bale, bundle or truss of hay or straw

brash or quick of hedge clippings

legacy of heirlooms

dickory of hickories

undulation of hills or mounds

ho ho ho of hollies

invasion or skeleton of bush honeysuckle

abrasion, bitterness, pocket or yard of hops or hop bines

herd of horsetails

growth of horticulturalists (from the Latin hortus, meaning "garden")

sprinkle of hoses

horde, la vista or luego of hostas

crowd, devastation or overpopulation of humans/people (many others commonly used - people also could be a collective noun) - sadly, the quantity and associated traits (greed & ignorance) are spoiling a wondrous world

charm or hover of hummingbirds

vigor of hybrids

bigness or brothel of hydrangeas

hast of impatiens

infructescence (an ensemble {single mass} of fruits derived from the ovaries of an inflorescence - aka collective fruits, e.g., aggregate, multiple) some falsely so, if not fused (e.g., multicarpellate capsules) like hibiscus

army of insects (crawling)

swarm of insects (flying)

colony of insects (nesting)

horde, infestation, plague, rabble or swarm of troublesome insects

   numerous specific insect collective nouns (which see)

infection or nightmare of invasive plants

involucre (all the bracts of a flower)

flamboyance, optic, sword or wave of irises

orgy of Japanese beetles

band, party or scold of jays

jamboree of junipers

team of landscapers

eyesore of ugly landscapes

hell, stand or wreath of laurels

hustle of lawn maintenance workers

foliage or frondage of leaves (collectively, attached)

fascicle of leaves (attached and clustered)

autumn, pile or rake of leaves (fallen)

phyllotaxy (arrangement of leaves on a stem) alternate, opposite, whorled, also cauline and sessile

crust, mantle or shield of lichens

flamboyance or gild of lilies

party of litterbugs (see also my Dec 2019 Earth Pig rant)

boom or raft of logs (transported via water)

noise of lumberjacks/loggers

guarantee of magic elixirs

marsh of mallows

thicket of mangroves

canvas or grove of (sugar) maples

club of master gardeners

overstory of mayapples

mischief of mice

intrusion or sprig of mints

kiss or totem of mistletoe

company, labour or movement of moles

bank or fortune of money plants

monoculture (growing a single species in mass, antithesis of biodiversity)

crescent of moonflowers

dawn of morning glories

scourge or swarm of mosquitoes

carpet or covering of moss(es) or liverwort(s); specifically: cushion, mat, turf, weft

rarity or treasure of mother or wolf trees

stain of mulberries

OMG or WTF of mulberry weed (or other unwanted weeds - overwhelming sudden appearance)

rumor of mums

mess of mushrooms (picked, to be eaten)

cluster, ring or troop of mushrooms (in situ)

complex or network of mycelia (fungal hyphae, a plural noun as is mycelia)

benefit, team or ubiquity of mycorrhizae

index of names

tribe of natives (see also purists)

annoyance, nerve or proximity of neighbors

fatality of nightshade

necessity of nurse logs

majesty or savanna of oaks

bawl, rope or weeping of onions

pocket of oranges

coterie or rarity of orchids

greasing or knot of palms

consort or herd of parasites

crime of passionflowers

patch of pawpaws (trees)

blush of peaches

pod of peas

droop of peonies

peal or peck of peppers

perianth (surrounding non-reproductive parts of a flower)

perigonium (all the tepals of a flower)

pucker of persimmons

infestation of pests (invertebrates)

phalanx or shepherd of phlox

longing, pinetum or whisper of pines; psithurism (the sound{s} of wind in leaves)

selection of plant breeders

garden or nursery of plants (being grown, outside) also, arboretum, estate, garboretum* (nearly equal emphasis on woody & herbaceous), garth, grounds, hedge, herbary, jungle, park, parterre, pinetum, plot, shrubbery or yard; may also imply a specific arrangement (allée, block, drift, mass, maze, topiary)garden (space used for the controlled growth of plants; but, as Gertrude Jekyll noted, a collection does not a garden make)

   conservatory, glasshouse, greenhouse or hothouse (building - of plants)

   community of plants (wild & sharing a common environment, e.g., bog, fen, forest, meadow, prairie, savanna)

   family of plants (wild and related, genetically and via root interconnectivity)

   flora or vegetation (plants of a particular region or habitat)

  genus, family, order, etc (grouped by systematic categories) also angiosperms (produce flowers & seed), gymnosperms (incl. conifers, seeds but not flowers), phanerogams (angiosperms & gymnosperms, seeds), cryptogams (spore producers - ferns, bryophytes {mosses, liverworts & hornworts}, algae, lichens)

   (see also genet and individual specific names)

awe or reverence of plantsmen

looming or rash of poison ivy

peculiarity of pollarded woody plants

mass of pollen (in situ)

cloud or sneeze of pollen (aerosolized)

assistance, myriad or transfer of pollinators

mommy of poppies

regularity of prunes

delusion or jury of purists (nativists)

bury, nest, trace, trip, warren or wrack of rabbits

gaze or mask of raccoons

sneeze of ragweeds

bed or stand of reeds

lattice of rhizomorphs (rootlike aggregate of hyphae in some fungi)

paddy of rice (plants)

opportunity of roadside weeds (e.g., chicory)

bobbin or round of robins

rocks (see boulders)

network of roots

prickle or war of roses

hurry of rushes

beach, heap or pile of sand

advancement, curiosity or force of scientists

cycle of seasons

edge of sedges

bag, handful, packet, pinch or sack of seed(s)

nursery of seedlings

touch of sensitive plants

butchery of sheared plants (not topiary)

arboretum, hedge, nest, palisade, or shrubbery of shrubs

corpse of slash piles (accumulated plant debris, natural or from forest management)

tribe or ubiquity of sparrows

aversion or web of spiders

nest of spiderworts

flex of spinach

pageant of spring beauties

resurrection of sprouts (produced by the roots of some felled woody plants)

squad of squash

den, drey or scurry of squirrels

clutter or murmuration of starlings

flight of steps (stairs, an aggregate noun)

bundle or faggot of sticks

annoyance or matting of sticktights (plant hitchhikers)

repentance of stinging nettles

henge of stone fruit(s)

aggregate of strawberries

graveyard of stumps

reservoir or thickness of succulents

riddance of suckers

movement of sumacs

committee of surprise lilies

vincent of sunflowers (plants)

armory of sweet gum balls (fruit)

ghost of sycamores

clade of systematists or phylogenists

family or key of taxonomists

jab or misfortune of thorns

aggregate or stand of timber (uncut)

fall or flat of timber (cut) individual logs (which see)

clutch (on vine) or rick of tomatoes

assortment, bucket or shedload of tools (not a set)

blunder of topped woody plants

exhibit or garden of topiary

arboretum, avenue, beare, belt, book, canopy, clump, copse (small trees), coupe, forest, frith, grove, hanger, holt, noble, monoculture, orchard (deciduous or fruit), pinetum, pouquet, quercetum (oaks), spinney (small copse), stand, stillness, stock, thicket or wood of trees; something of a conundrum when using a collective noun with trees unless referring to a specific species (e.g., a wood of hickories); moreover, wood refers to a smaller delineated area

eloquence or majesty of trilliums

tub of tubers

pursing or tiptoe of tulips

whisk of twigs

tangle of vines

shrink of violets

colony or nibble of voles

herbarium of vouchers specimens

headache, stain or tumble of walnuts

barbie of wasps

rain of water (precipitation, falling in individual drops) water is considered a non-count noun

drift, littering or raft of waterlilies (or other floating plants)

overwhelm or wicket of weeds

shaft, sheaf or shock of wheat (plants)

blessing of (spring) wildflowers

bed, bend or withy of willows

blizzard of winterberries

wood (cut) dependent on the measure

can, clew, mouthful, squirm or wiggle of worms

excurrency or totter of Xmas trees

aesthetic of yard art

gloom or quiver of yews