Re: The 3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse


Dear Aroiders and especially Ray and Wilbert;
        I have been biting my lip over all this taxonomy talk, but Ray's
comment on a "Rose by any other name" sort of got to me. Ray do you mean a
"Rosa", "Rhodondendron", "Aptenia"," Arethusa" or any of the other twenty +
genera listed under "Rose" in Hortus III?
        We  aroid-lers forget sometimes we are an elite group and throw
around generic names like common names. So we can loosely call an Arum an
Arum -but not by any other name.
        In the professional world of looking at plants and their names
there are "3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" - activities which amateurs tend
to combine, confuse or synonomize - Systematics, Taxonomy and Nomenclature.

        In the best of all possible worlds, these are harmonius and reflect
the real world. Where the commmon name, scientific name and the meaning of
the name are clear, solid and unconfusing; however I can't think of an
example off hand. Isn't there some monotypic genus that is common and a
household word?
[My favorite mis-nomer here is "Nasturtium" (italics, please) the generic
name of the Water Cress. The common name Nasturtium is of course,
Tropaeolum (italics)- a serious historical confusion.]

        Anyway, every taxonomist, must justify their placement of a name on
a biological entity using the tools of systematics and an understanding of
the rules of Nomenclature (at least we have the "International Code for
Botanical Nomenclature"[ICBN] as a guide to this aspect of the problem).
The more the relationships of names resembles the realities of nature, the
more "sensible" a system of relationships is explained, the more likely the
names will be understood and accepted by science and amateur gardeners
alike.
        Without going into all the vagaries and excpetions - and there are
way too many -...and to get to the point.. Wilbert's proposed name change
reflects his view of the relationships of one species to a number of
others. Once he has published his reason for this view, the acceptance of
any changes is out there hanging in the breeze.
        Gardeners and especially anyone commercially involved in a name
change are hard audiences to budge. The scientific community may
immediatley say "AHA! and Of Course", but it may still take decades or
never to get changes/corections into the main stream.

        As a dabbler in the world of professional taxonomy and systematics,
I think it is awfully brave of Wilbert to just throw out his proposal to
the mixed bag or aroid-lers. Gardeners who don't want to change their label
for any reason., nurserymen who won't order new labels for all the ir
plants-customers don't even want to know any scientific name-let alone a
new one and...well etc etc. etc.

        I am also impressed at how well some aroid-lers understand the
subtleties of the problem and others just don't fathom all the troubles
here. Quite a mixed bag.

        I say, lete's give Wilbert the time to give us the facts when their
time is right, then let another botanist propose a more sensible
alternative - or hopefully not again!

        Best wishes for a Happy New Year to all


        Jim W.


ps There is no Dark "SIDE" of taxonomy , it is all "DARK"- Arcane spells,
demons in laboratories and mystical languages. You must be trained in the
use of  The Force... or just belive.

James L. Murrain                                Voice: 816 746 1949
James W. Waddick                               E-MAIL: jimjim@sky.net
8871 NW Brostrom Rd                               Fax: 816 746 1939
Kansas City MO 64152




Other Mailing lists | Author Index | Date Index | Subject Index | Thread Index