Article: Plant Names I : Botanical Part: Precision + Clarity = A KEEPER

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Image Plant Names I : Botanical Part
By Charlie Street on March 7, 2011

Dedicated gardeners often want to know the identity of the plants they purchase and grow. That means knowing formal plant names. These names always have a botanical part and this is often followed by a horticultural part. This article is about the botanical part of plant names.

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Imageeclayne
Mar 9, 2011 6:31 PM CST
Name: Evan Layne
Western Mass, USA, z6a
Birthplace of Basketball
Thanks Charlie!
Your article will likely be frequently referenced.

Would you mind describing how "priority" is determined as noted in your example of Chrysanthemum vs. Dendranthema.

Thanks,
Evan
Evan
SunnyBorders
Mar 10, 2011 4:28 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
Thanks Evan.

The earliest name given at a taxonomic level (species, genus or order) is the valid name, that is if ICBN rules were followed in the naming. The earliest name has priority over any subsequent names.

For me. it's most obvious at the level of species. If an apparently new plant is "discovered", it must be compared to all known and named related plant species. If this original specimen does not belong to an existing species, it becomes the "type specimen" of a new species and the species is given a name. There are procedures that must be followed for this species and its name to be accepted. A description of the type specimen must be published in an appropriate academic journal, along with the name. This allows peer review by other botanists. The type itself is typically kept in a museum, or the like, for future reference. The person who publishes the description and name is the author/authority.

If another botanist subsequently goes through the same with another specimen and it turns out that it really just belonged to the earlier named species, that second name is a synonym. The first name has priority and is the valid name of the species.

This also goes for genera and families.

The common non-hardy garden mum was named Chrysanthemum indicum by Linnaeus . Apparently, Des Moulins, a 19 century botanist, reclassified the species and it seems it became the type species of a new Genus Dendranthema. The new name was ignored and forgotten for long time. At the time of the Chrysanthemum reclassification several decades back, the correct name for the common mum was recognized; namely, Dendranthema indicum (L.) Des Moul. The earlier author goes in brackets, if the name is changed.

The ICBN does allows invalid names to be retained in two situation, including one such as this. Apparently, there was considerable disagreement among botanists over this matter, but after study by a committee, the ICBN "conserved" the original name. The name Chrysantheum indicum L. is the accepted name again.

Sorry, don't think I can italicize names here.

Charlie
Imageeclayne
Mar 10, 2011 5:50 PM CST
Name: Evan Layne
Western Mass, USA, z6a
Birthplace of Basketball
Thanks Charlie,

After reading you're comments, I'm thinking the discussions surrounding this debate would prove to be illuminating re: process. For that reason alone I'll try to dig up some more data. For instance, why did Des Moulins change the genus name? I've known enough scientists to know the discussions must have been lively.

I appreciate the explanation of the name originator abbreviation as well. I guess the shortest abbreviation for Linnaeus is self explanatory.

Thanks again
Evan
SunnyBorders
Mar 10, 2011 7:28 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5a
It certainly would, Evan, but I could only get fragments of information on line and frequently the same info repeated.

I am assuming he must have changed the name because, after comparing, he felt that the species Chrysantheum indicum L neither belonged in the Genus Chrysanthemum nor belong in any other published genus. Hence he constructed a new genus, Dendranthema. Namely, it was a case of a reclassification to a new genus. If the name was valid, then the reclassification was valid.

I used to be much more familiar with the ICZN (Zoological) than the botanical Code. In zoology, the date of publication of a name is included with the author's name. I think this might make tracking change in nomenclature easier.
Imageeclayne
Mar 10, 2011 8:09 PM CST
Name: Evan Layne
Western Mass, USA, z6a
Birthplace of Basketball
Thanks Charlie,
Looking forward to Plant Names II
Evan

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