The purpose of this paper is to present and exploit fundamental information, such as semantic meanings and geographical features, of phytotoponyms (a type of toponym that includes plant names) in Western Hubei (China). Long-term vegetation degradation is also estimated. Toponym data for this study were obtained from the place names database of Hubei Province at the Civil Affairs Department of Hubei. In total, 1259 instances of phytotoponyms were recognised; 898 (71.3%) were woody plant toponyms, and 361 (28.7%) were herbaceous plant toponyms. Subsequently, we randomly selected a similar number (1250) of non-phytotoponyms to compare with the phytotoponyms. All toponyms were localised and geo-referenced. The results showed that the most common plant names recognisable in place names are common plants that have a close connection with daily life and positive morals in Chinese culture and literature. The occurrence of plant names can reflect the characteristic plants of a city. The vegetation coverage rate where phytotoponyms are located is higher than that in non-phytotoponym areas. Altitude has a stronger correlation with the number of phytotoponyms than slope and vegetation coverage degree. The identification of long-term vegetation degradation based on phytotoponyms is presented for reference only, and other methods and materials are needed to validate these results.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited