hort.net Seasonal photo, (c) 2006 Christopher P. Lindsey, All Rights Reserved: do not copy
articles | gallery of plants | blog | tech blog | plant profiles | patents | mailing lists | top stories | links | shorturl service | tom clothier's archive0
Gallery of Plants
Tech Blog
Plant Profiles
Mailing Lists
    Search ALL lists
    Search help
    Subscription info
Top Stories
sHORTurl service
Tom Clothier's Archive
 Top Stories
New Trillium species discovered

Disease could hit Britain's trees hard

Ten of the best snowdrop cultivars

Plant protein database helps identify plant gene functions

Dendroclimatologists record history through trees

Potato beetle could be thwarted through gene manipulation

Hawaii expands coffee farm quarantine

Study explains flower petal loss

RSS story archive

Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle

  • Subject: Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle
  • From: Jill Bell <godjillab@home.com>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:36:19 -0500 (CDT)

on 7/9/01 10:24 AM, Betsy Feuerstein at ecuador@midsouth.rr.com wrote:
I would like to reply to this discussion, being  a complete amateur as a
horticulturist in the world of botanists and taxonomists.  I have been
attracted to plants and specifically those of the aroid family for almost
thirty years.  When I first found myself in garden centers and plant shops
asking questions and then buying horticultural dictionaries and books and
finally Exotica, I realized that the "common name" of a plant had nothing to
do with what it was, it was usually just a very low level description.  In
essence, it told me nothing.  I started to learn and remember the Greek and
Latin names for the plants and learned about genus and family and species,
and started to see an organizational relationship.  The names alone were
able to get this information across to me, certainly there was too much
diversity in the foliage and such for me to have garnered this knowledge any
other way.  For people who "just want a plant" for their table or window,  a
purple passion would be perfect - I just as soon order one in a bar.
There needs to be no more information for this sort of application.  But for
those that cross the line, and need to organize, I can see no better way but
this particular order out of chaos.  It is the informational architecture
that can be universally understood, even by an amateur.
Best Regards,

-- Jill Bell
Graphic Design, Web Design, Illustration and Digital Photography

> Botanical nomenclature has a perfect place. As you say it is not perfect in
> all
> of its aspect, but it does serve a valid place in science. Is the average
> person
> who deals with plants, dealing in science? Or is he dealing with likes,
> dislikes, wants, and needs as far as plants go? He wants a plant that will
> grow
> in the dark, he wants a plant that takes full sun, he wants a plant that will
> grow in wet soil, he wants a plant that will live with bad drainage, he wants
> a
> plant because he likes the plant..... Does any of that require the scientific
> botanical nomenclature? Certainly knowing such might help him know if the
> plant
> was what he desired or needed, but there may well be a simpler way ....
> someone
> or a tag tells him what he needs to know or what he sees pleases his senses,
> or
> the smell tickles his nose. I don't think the botanical name is going to add
> much to his deliberations.
> Scientists and some plant enthusiasts want to know plant names and that is
> great. Some of us like to grow the plants and if we have a tidbit of
> nomenclature to go along with it, super. Some just love the plants. Let's
> consider that some need the clarification of nomenclature, some want it, and
> some don't give a darn and maybe move on to something new.
> Betsy
> Eduardo Goncalves wrote:
>> Cīmon, guys...
>> I know you must be driving crazy with all the names changing all the
>> time, but I donīt think we should try to freeze an evolving science. I know
>> sometimes it is painful when you have to change your concepts, but it is
>> part of the life.
>> The advent of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature can be
>> considered an important event in Botany, because Botany looked like the
>> Tower of Babel before it. The Code were designed to keep stability of names,
>> so we use the concept of priority. The correct name is the first effectively
>> published. The circunscription of names can change, but they follow rules
>> that can be understood if you want.
>> Some people think it would be great if we could use the "easiest" name,
>> instead of the earliest. I agree it would make some things easier, but we
>> would implode the stability. Who has to decide when something has to change?
>> What if someone is not happy? Can He/she change it again? Believe me: If
>> there we had not the Code, the names would change even more...
>> Letīs face it. We donīt have to write in our scientific books that
>> primitive humans had dinossaurs as pets just because almost everybody in
>> world really thinks it is true (blame Fred Flintstone!). Any misconception
>> should be corrected, even when more than half of the humans think it is
>> true. And what should be considered "majority"? I donīt think Chinese people
>> call Epipremnum as pothos. They will be considered majority in anything
>> soon! Is plant taxonomy for the whole Mankind or just for Americans?
>> We are paid to keep the names well applied, so we do it.  If you want
>> imutable names, donīt use Linnean binomials! Call your plant Sliurneht, or
>> Grumpflilit or even Catiripapo... If you want to be scientific (that is what
>> you are doing when you say Pothos or Calla) you have to follow the law
>> (i.e., the Code). People has used this pseudoscience to sell plants.
>> Scientific names can rise the prices, because they give the impression that
>> they know exactly what they are selling, but it isnīt true. If plant sellers
>> are not able to offer a correct Linnean name for the plants they sell, they
>> SHOULD NOT USE IT, or they are just fooling people.
>> I can give you an example: Letīs suppose you have bought something called
>> Calla, a pink Calla. You can see some information about it on internet. It
>> says Calla is a circunboreal genus with only one species that use to grow in
>> bogs. So you killed your only Zantedeschia rehmanii treating it like it was
>> Calla palustris... Thatīs the problem in having horticultural names being
>> used like this...
>> Many of you in Aroid-L know that I am a plant taxonomist that do not love
>> all the aspects of the linnean taxonomy, mainly because it is not efficient
>> in dealing with evolving things. However, it is the best way we have to
>> describe biodiversity, so I still use it.
>> I agree that some of plant taxonomists change names for some weird
>> vanity, but most of us are working hard to make the overwhelming diversity
>> more understandable. Do not blame us. Nature itself was already pretty
>> confused when we arrived with the tags! It is easy when you consider a few
>> plants you have in your garden, but try to face the hell in the wild...
>> Nomenclatural cheers,
>> Eduardo.
>>> From: Lester Kallus <lkallus@earthlink.net>
>>> Reply-To: aroid-l@mobot.org
>>> To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
>>> Subject: why scientists don't just give up the names battle
>>> Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2001 22:40:14 -0500 (CDT)
>>> I'd like to offer a differing opinion on the common versus scientific
>>> name.  Professionally, I run into frustrations with bacteria names some of
>>> which are on their third name in the 21 years I've been
>>> working.  Nevertheless, I do this professionally and so can keep up with it
>>> as long as they tell me ahead of time.  Fortunately, the lay public doesn't
>>> use these names so there's no problem.  If they did, we might have to
>>> reevaluate our position on changing the names.
>>> Periodically, I've read letters here indicating that some plant I had never
>>> heard of had been renamed to another genus that I also had never heard
>>> of.  This didn't affect me and won't affect most other folks.  There's no
>>> problem if few know about it.  It's the same as when a bacteria is renamed
>>> by the microbiological and medical community.  The problem does happen,
>>> though, when it's a plant that's commonly grown.
>>> If the vast majority of people misidentify Pothos and only a small number
>>> of botanists and horticulturists can accurately identify them, how complex
>>> would it be to tell the botanists and horticulturists to find a new name
>>> for the true Pothos and to allow the previously misidentified Pothos to
>>> correctly assume the name?  I suspect it would be less complex to
>>> re-educate the botanists and horticulturists than it would the rest of the
>>> "uneducated" public.
>>> Unfortunately, though, the botanists are too stubborn and insist that the
>>> rest of the world follow their lead.  Come on now - if it's been
>>> misidentified for 200 years and if few people would recognize the true
>>> Pothos - why not just change the name of the true Pothos and let everyone
>>> be right?  Could it possibly be people taking pleasure in calling others
>>> wrong?
>>> Les
>> _________________________________________________________________________
>> Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.

 © 1995-2017 Mallorn Computing, Inc.All Rights Reserved.
Our Privacy Statement
Other Mailing lists | Author Index | Date Index | Subject Index | Thread Index