Re: The 3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

At 09:49 PM 12/27/96 -0600, James W. Waddick wrote:
>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
>        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:
>8871 NW Brostrom Rd                               Fax: 816 746 1939
>Kansas City MO 64152
The fourth horseman is Tonto


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