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Re: Species of hosta

  • Subject: Re: Species of hosta
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 09:41:36 -0400

Hi Ben,
     I'm not arguing which hostas are species and which are not. I'm just
pointing out the level of disagreement among those of you who do. I don't
know enough about the varying descriptions of what a species is to do that.
Certainly I can see that without clear evidence of native populations there
is much room for discussion in that area. I don't see where there is any
proof one way or the other regarding which is a species and which is not.
What I do see is a need for a single description of a species that everyone
could agree on. We may never have that, but there is little I can contribute
to that.
     My point is that with naming conventions, the first thing we have to do
is see if it fits within the code, and I don't have the new 2004 version of
the code. Once we are within the sometimes loose borders of the ICNCP code
with hostas the decisions will be made by the Registrar. We can argue and
appeal with the Registrar, but the Registrar decides. I believe the present
Registrar as well as former Registrars have reversed their decisions
following appeals, so they do listen to arguments.
     The problem remains that if you use species epithets before hosta
names, you'd better be very sure that it is actually a species and will
remain one. If we are not sure, it will have to be renamed.
      I made four arguments against the practice, not just the one about the
always-evolving question of which are true species. You did loosely mention
the fourth, which concerned whether a particular plant that was say found in
the wild in Japan by someone unknown could be determined to be a pure
example of a species. Accepting that it is has backfired on us before.
'Sagae' is the best known example. First renamed H. fluctuans 'Variegated',
which should not have been done because it already had a name, it was then
decided it did not fit the species description for fluctuans. Since it was
then accepted as a hybrid, its original name was restored. You now say that
fluctuans is not a species, and it may not be. I don't know. So we have
another example - One that this time fits with two of my arguments. There
are more examples as well, and I wonder just how many plants there are now
that were renamed from earlier names that held species epithets. Just the
'Fortunei' and 'Undulata' types alone make a fair list.
     A goal of the code is to reduce confusion, and the business of trying
to assign species epithets just increases that confusion. I do not think
plants of uncertain origin should be blindly accepted as being of a species
because one person said they were. If we lent credibiliity to that practice
we would see a lot more H. fluctuans 'Variegated' and H. kikutii 'Kifukurin'
type names where plants that really did not seem to be true members of a
species carried the species epithet. With plants that have unknown lineage,
we should not be guessing about their genetic background. Without a single
accepted method for determining species background, and with it being
assigned by those who have no real way of being sure about it like the
'Fortunei's and the 'Undulata's were, we'd see lots of plants called
single-species sports when no one really knows if they are or not.
    DNA testing may one day settle many of the species arguments, or it may
confuse the issue more. It will depend on what we can make of the results we
see. If it tells us a lot about the species backgrounds of plants, as it
well might, we may find ourselves stripping yet more plants of their species
epithets. If your description of 23 species becomes accepted for a while,
how many hostas will have to be renamed because their species epithets are
of species which are no longer species? These are some reasons why
continuing to add the species epithets just adds confusion to the naming
process, and offers little advantage. What are the arguments in favor?
                                          ...........Bill Meyer

> Nice Bill Just take my montana as an example and build your story
> on it> It was just the first example that came to my mind. I still
> adhere to what I wrote in the article. Not a single counterargument
> has been found yet. When I was sending the manuscript to the
> scientific journal the referees remarked that I should compare my
> results mainly with those of other scientist and not with mr
> Schmid. Moreover I like to point out that the japanese scientist
> Fujita in 1976 and the korean scientist Chung in 1991 came to the
> same number of true species: about 23. We all three used different
> but solid data. Only Schmid is at odds here, with his opinion of 44
> species. I have solid data to show that half his "species" are
> hybrids, including his "new species" H. laevigata. Most scientist
> would not have bothered with all those hybrids. Fujita and Chung
> ignored them completely. However being also a hobbyist myself I
> have for hobbyist-sake included all those so-called species in my
> research. Only new data can refute my conclusions.
> Ben J.M.Zonneveld
> Institute of Biology,Leiden University, Clusius lab
> Wassenaarse weg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands
> Zonneveld@rulbim.Leidenuniv.NL
> Fax: +31-71-5274999. min temp -10C (15F)
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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