The Origin of Hydrangea


I love it when my kids apply things they’ve learned in books to everyday life.  Like, when my youngest son wondered if the hydrangea plant I brought home from Easter Sunday service is named for the mythological monster “Hydra”.

If you wonder about the origins of words too, join the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme at Bermuda Onion.  There, bloggers share new words they’ve learned or some of their favorites.

We’ve been listening to The Lightening Thief during our soccer commuting.  When I read the first book a few years ago, I didn’t like it.  Too many crises, not enough character development.  But, I’ve recently decided to give it another try.  I want to learn more mythology, and all the action keeps me awake while driving.  Bonus: I know it’s appropriate for little ears, and my kids enjoy it.  It’s fun sharing books with them.

Anyway, during our listening, Percy recently had to battle a Hydra, a sea-snake type monster with multiple heads.  When one head is sliced off, two more grow back in its place.  (You can see why this would be a challenging monster to defeat, but Percy manages, with help from his friends of course.)  I told my son I doubted the beautiful flowering plant was named for a monster; perhaps the common link came from “hydro” which means water.



Here’s what I learned:

Hydrangeas were first discovered in Japan, and their name comes from the Greek “hydor” (water) plus “angos” (jar or vessel).  This roughly translates to “water barrel”, perhaps because of the cup shape of the flowers and the plant’s need for lots of water. (Thanks Teleflora )

I couldn’t find any official origin for Hydra, but since it’s a water snake, I’m sure it also comes from the Greek hydro, or water.

Word Nerd Workout

Can you think of other words that come from the Greek root “hydor”?  And, if you’ve read The Lightening Thief, what did you think?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!







Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and


  1. What Toni said 🙂 My son and I read the whole Percy Jackson series together. In fact, I’m fairly certain that series was the last we read together before he stopped wanting me to read with him.

  2. Hydroponics is a big buzz word on campus where I teach a class…I think its growing plants without soil. I love hydrangeas and I’m glad you made me think of the origin – I don’t do that enough.

  3. hydraulic, hydroplane, hydrate, hydrant, hydrarthrosis, hydroelectric, hydrofoil, hydrofracking, hydrocarbon

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