Whenever I see an advertisement for the Cunjevoi restaurant, I have to stop and think twice. The first impression is not exactly tasty – the cunjevoi (Pyura stolonifera) is a salty, tough animal (a tunicate) that lives in colonies on rock platforms. It has two siphons, and filters seawater for organic materials. It’s called a sea squirt because it squirts a jet of water if it’s stepped on or disturbed.
The soft insides are often used by fishermen to bait their lines for rock-fishing (why doesn’t this word mean ‘fishing for rocks’?). Aboriginal people used to eat them, so maybe it’s just a question of cultural tastes.
Then I remember that the cunjevoi is also a rather attractive ‘elephant ear’ rainforest plant (Alocasia brisbanensis).
While a more attractive association with a restaurant, this plant is poisonous to humans! Perhaps not so good either for a restaurant.
This illustrates some of the confusion that can surround common names (e.g. the fish ‘whiting’ in South Australia is not the same species as the ‘whiting’ of NSW).
As a co-blogger pointed out, the general public including kids, even a 7-year-old boy of my acquaintance, are happy to use dinosaur species names (Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor …), so perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to start using the genus name at least, instead of the common one.