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Re: Amorphophallus titanum

  • Subject: Re: Amorphophallus titanum
  • From: Alistair Hay <ajmhay@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 08:31:49 +1100

If only Dan Nicolson were around to answer this :)

On my *limited* knowledge, it is complicated by that fact that, although we call these "latin" names, they are really "botanical latin" which is a kind of bastardized multicultural fruit salad, and one generally cannot tell the gender of a generic name just by looking at it, unless you have specialist knowledge of the "language".

As a very very crude generalization, generic names are almost always nouns, usually feminine and tend to be from (or moulded into) greek, while species epithets are generally from latin and either nouns or adjectives.  There are many many exceptions though. Some are drawn from mediaeval latinized names themselves drawn from other languages besides greek or latin. Some are drawn from words in modern languages which may or may not have any gender themselves: e.g. the palm Licuala. What happens as a rule to the gender as words are transposed from various languages into botanical latin is a bit beyond me, I'm afraid. Dan had a paper on it in Taxon in 1994 which I don't have. 

Here's a few examples of things which I have found confusing at one time or another!

Genus names which commemorate people are nearly always feminine regardless of the gender of the person: Hence Bognera, but Hottarum is neuter because it is a portmanteau of Hotta and the neuter Arum.

Some generic names which "look" feminine are neuter - as for example Aglaonema and Cyrtosperma, mentioned before. Neuter by the way is a definite linguistic gender: it is not "neutral" in the sense of being able to take any gender ending of adjective. A neuter noun must have an adjective in neuter form: so Aglaonema commutatum. And as you have pointed out, some generic names which "look" latin masculine, like Prunus, are feminine.

Some adjectival species epithets are not latin: macrorrhizos is an example. It is greek, and both the feminine and masculine form of this adjective are spelled the same way: Hence Alocasia macrorrhizos. The neuter ending is -on, and this plant started out its nomenclatural life as Arum macrorrhizon, because Arum is neuter. When it was first transferred to Alocasia, the epithet was changed to the feminine-looking and widely used but grammatically incorrect "macrorrhiza", later corrected by Dan.

Some species epithets which look like adjectives are not: e.g. those ending in -icola are nouns (meaning  inhabitant of ....  so monticola = inhabitant of mountains; vulcanicola = inhabitant of volcanoes). So it is Alocasia (f) monticola, Calochortus (m) paludicola and Arum (n) rupicola, and the gender of the genus does not affect the ending of the epithet. 

Another case which it is easy to trip up on is when plant species are named for people. Wilbert's Typhonium is Typhonium wilbertii (the genitive singular of the latinized masculine proper noun Wilbertius). If Wilbert had been a woman, Wilbertha, it would have been the genitive singular of the latinized feminine proper noun Wilbertia, hence Typhonium wilbertiae. But if the plant had been intended to be called, adjectivally, the Wilbertian Typhonium, it would have had the neuter ending Typhonium wilbertianum because Typhonium is neuter, regardless of whether W was Wilbert or Wilbertha!














From: abri1973@wp.pl
To: aroid-l@www.gizmoworks.com
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2011 16:54:55 +0100
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Amorphophallus titanum

One more thing: Quercus, Fagus, Fraxinus, Malus, Pyrus, Prunus, Pinus, Alnus, Eucalyptus - all they end with -us suggesting a masculine gender while most of their specific epithets are feminine.
Can a Latin feminine word end with -us?
 
Marek
 
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2011 2:13 AM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Amorphophallus titanum

The gender of a genus is unrelated to the habit of the plants it contains, though I think it is true to say that a majority of generic names are feminine. Calophyllum is a neuter genus of trees, and Elaeocarpus is a masculine one, for example.

A

On 09/02/2011, at 10:13 PM, Eduardo Gomes Goncalves <eduardo.goncalves@inhotim.org.br> wrote:

Dear Dylan,

All "tradicional" trees are female in Latin. The question is that "tradicional" are trees defined as so. Syagrus is a female word because it is considered a tree but probably Cicerus never mentioned it in his classical texts. Moreover, we are not exactly sure that all palms are trees (mainly in Syagrus, with plants of some species reaching no more than 30 cm tall). 
The borderline is quite fuzzy and tricky. 

Very best wishes, 

Eduardo. 

Em 08/02/2011, às 12:24, Hannon escreveu:


Dear Eduardo,

Thank you for this inquiry, it is good to know these things.

Alistair,

So would we have Alocasia scalprifolia for an adjectival epithet then?

Regarding the example of Pinus, I believe all tree genera are regarded as feminine, no matter their origin. How lines are drawn between trees and non-trees I do not know.

Regards,

Dylan Hannon

On 7 February 2011 07:12, Eduardo Gomes Goncalves <eduardo.goncalves@inhotim.org.br> wrote:
Dear Alistair 

You are absolutely correct. I have re-checked this morning and "titanum" is the genitive plural of "titan" so it means exactly "of the titans". Since it came from greek, its declension is anomalous. 
Many thanks for your help. 

Very best wishes,

Eduardo. 

Em 06/02/2011, às 21:15, Alistair Hay escreveu:

I think the point is that not all speces epithets are adjectival, so they do not necessarily have to agree with the gender of the genus.

For example in Alocasia scalprum the epithet is a noun which happens to be neuter: the knife alocasia. An adjectival latin epithet in Alocasia would indeed be feminine:  Alocasia indica: the indian Alocasia.

Aglaonema is a neuter genus, as are Cyrtosperma, Arisaema and Syngonium. So its Aglaonema rotundum, Cyrtosperma cuspidispathum, Arisaema concinnum and Syngonium chiapense when the epithet is adjectival.

In Amorphophallus titanum,  the epithet is not an adjective. I am uncertain but fairly sure it is the genitive plural, meaning "of the titans" or something like that. It does not mean the adjective "titanic".

Alistair







On 05/02/2011, at 10:50 PM, "Marek Argent" <abri1973@wp.pl> wrote:

Dear Eduardo,
 
A good point.
 
The suffix -um is neutral and it fits to all grammatic genera:
Also feminine botanical genera species epithet can end with -um,
the examples are: Arisaema triphyllum, Alocasia scalprum, Aglaonema commutatum, Syngonium auritum...
But indeed, I have never heard another construction like Amorphophallus titanum.
 
I always wondered why Alocasia macrorrhizos is a proper name, the epithet is of Greek origin,
and I don't know why it is named so. The suffix -os is masculine in Greek, and Alocasia is feminine.
And what do you think about the name Synandrospadix vermitoxicus?
I can't find anywhere what is the gender of the word "spadix". Isn't it feminine?
 
There is also one important note,
many people erroneously take genera ending with -is as masculine, but it is feminine,
Ariopsis peltata or in other families Iris pumila, Clematis lanuginosa etc. 
Also the genera ending with -as are feminine: Anubias gigantea, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, Cycas revoluta.
But... the pine tree, Pinus seems to be a masculine word, and we have Pinus sylvestris, P. excelsa, P. nigra,
while some other species of pine end usually with -us: like Pinus strobus.
 
Strange things...
Marek
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2011 4:34 PM
Subject: [Aroid-l] Amorphophallus titanum

Dear fellows, 

I have a silly (but important) question for you. As far as I know, Amophophallus is a masculine word, am I correct?

In Latin, except for the name of traditional trees (Malus, Pyrus, etc), all names ended in -us are male names. So it is correct to say that all adjective epithets in Amorphophallus species  end with -us (A. gomboczianus, A. hirsutus, A lunatus, A. glaucophyllus, etc). 

Why Amophophallus titanum is not A. titanus? Other species with a similar epithet (I don't remember none in plant kingdom, but I know Dorcus titanus - a beetle)...  Wilbert, do you have any reason for this?

Very best wishes,

Eduardo. 



INHOTIM 
Dr. EDUARDO G. GONÇALVES

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Dr. EDUARDO G. GONÇALVES

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Jardim Botânico


Rua B, 20 
35460-000 | Brumadinho | MG | Brasil
+55 31 3571.6638  Ramal Fixo 107         +55 31 9604.8618  Ramal 380

Rua Antônio de Albuquerque, 215 | Funcionários
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Antes de imprimir, pense em sua responsabilidade com o Meio Ambiente.


 


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INHOTIM 
Dr. EDUARDO G. GONÇALVES

Curador Botânico

Jardim Botânico


Rua B, 20 
35460-000 | Brumadinho | MG | Brasil
+55 31 3571.6638  Ramal Fixo 107         +55 31 9604.8618  Ramal 380

Rua Antônio de Albuquerque, 215 | Funcionários
30112-010 | Belo Horizonte | MG | Brasil 
+55 31 3223.8224          

Antes de imprimir, pense em sua responsabilidade com o Meio Ambiente.


 

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