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Re: [IGSROBIN] what's in a name?

Dear Alby,

If I opened the can of worms I'm sorry. In any event, I appreciate your
work in preparing that exposition resulting from digging out the wisdom
of Linnaeus. I've thought about the matter for a few days, so let me

The difficulty I had, and still have, was not with the distinctions of
family, genus and species, for these are pretty well understood and
accepted by now. The difficulty I had was with the sub-genera or
sections. What purpose do these serve in the context of the question
asked? If they served to say, for instance, that you cannot cross a
member of sub-genus A with a member of sub-genus B then I'd agree that
they provided a really good purpose of classification. However, it seems
that this is not the case. The Regals resulted from multiple crosses
between three sub-genera, and possibly more. Therefore, why should we
even mention the sub-genus when we are trying to describe their
background lineages of Regals, for instance? It serves only to confuse.
It seems to be far simpler to simply list the species involved. I must
assume the sub-genera are useful for some other reason but for genetics
it sounds as though they do not.

On your second topic, that the reporting of Regals and their parentage
is questionable, I agree fully that it is a pity the lines were not kept
accurately. The orchid people did it better. But there we are, Pel
growers were freer spirits or perhaps it was the wealth and prestige of
orchid growers over the years that kept a tighter lid on the pot. We
cannot rewrite history and, even with DNA, it is very difficult to go
back through many generations with all of the crosses and back crosses
and be sure what the originating parents were. All we can do is to
exclude many possibilities.

To get back to the original question it sounds to me that it cannot be
definitively said that a cross of a Zonal with a Regal is impossible
since the full plantlines are uncertain. If the species that Cynthia,
for instance, lists are the only ones in the Regal lines then it seems,
from what you say, that we would really have to have a better handle on
the species makeup to be sure. It is true that the cross has never
succeeded and that basis alone may be the best reason we have to say it
is not possible. At least it is simple and avoids the arm-waving that
comes in by introducing sub-genera to the discussion. However, under
such circumstances, don't you think that giving the pseudo-botanical
title P. x domesticum seems to be a bit presumptuous? Why do we need it?

San Diego, California

Alby wrote:
"By the way, there is considerable doubt about the so-called crosses
used in
creating the Regals.  Much of it is guesswork rather than factual.
Hybridizers tended to tell "fibs" in the good old days trying to keep to
themselves the truth about the hybrids they produced.  As I said in my
earlier e-mail, its a pity that a fair dinkum registrar of hybrids was
kept.  These days DNA tests can help to substantiate the ancestary of
plants as in humans and many "species" are being re-tested to determine
their proper status."

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