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

  • Subject: Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle
  • From: Neil Carroll <zzamia@hargray.com>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:38:13 -0500 (CDT)

I collect plants for many different reasons. I get different kicks out of
different aspects of the deal. I am not a taxonomist, but I have a good
knowledge of what they do and can sympathize with their plight. I also
consider myself obsessed with many different groups of plants (anthurium,
rhipsalis, gongora for examples). My pleasure in all of these aspects is one
of learning and discovery. The aspect of plant collecting (and there are
many) that gets me the most is the pursuit of a plant. To pursue a plant you
must learn how various players play the game.

To obtain a truly hard to obtain plant you have to have a certain amount of
knowledge of common names and botanical names. Not only that but in some
cases you need to know the history of a plant and the history of it's name
or names. The taxonomist, no matter how many times a name changes, is really
the only group of people who consistantly keep records of the plants in a
way that ALL can understand and research........IF THEY KNOW and UNDERSTAND
the rules. Including the literature.

For the plant collector it is all a matter of degrees......If all you want
to collect is Anthurium andreanum and it's many cultivars (or whatever they
are) you only need a certain level and understanding of taxonomy, almost
none. But if you are after Anthurium dressleri or A. cutucuense you would
need to know much more.......and its' to the taxonomist and his/her
literature that you must turn to find out were it grows, how it was
discovered and lost and rediscovered, who has it, how did they get it, how
do I get it from them or how do I get to it in habitat myself.

This is to say that some collectors are happy with Anth. 'Lady Jane' and
some aren't satisified until they have Anth. peltigerum, Anth. lentii, Anth.
ovatifolium and all of the other Section Digitinervium that there are. These
different levels of obsession require different levels of understanding of
nomenclature. Some care alot and some care a little and some couldn't give a
rat's toenail what the name is or who its closest cousin is. But regardless
of your level of involvement, you cannot escape the taxonomists' literature.
You do not have to play the game, but if you don't know the rules you can't
break them very well.

All of you are correct because you come from different points of view. Some
are taxonomists ( they are excused as their hands are tied and they are
supposed to act that way ), some are collectors of one narrow group of
plants and others collect a wide range of plants. to each his own.

NO ONE IS CORRECT  who thinks that their way is the only way, or that people
who don't conform are perpatrating some kind of horrible evil on the plants.
Really, the genes and 95% of people who collect plants could care less what
the name is. THe genes are only looking for a vessel and the people only
want something beautiful and/or interesting in their lives.

Neil





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