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Re: renaming plants

In a message dated 2/8/03 12:29:49 AM Eastern Standard Time, mtalt@hort.net 

> about the same actual plant.  Taxonomists do not always agree with
> each other - there are the 'lumpers' and 'splitters', 

Therein is a great problem for a gardener attempting to do the right thing by 
his name tags.

Lumpers and splitters are also at each other's throats damaging the entire 
concept for the horticulture world and those who are pragmatists.  Pragmatic 
horticulturists are the guys who keep the business alive and not just a hobby 
of the privileged.  Under a shade tree with a guide on a hot summer day, a 
gardener may wonder just who gave these guys this right to be so arbitrary 
individually.  There are international groups regulating taxonomy and 
registration within certain genera.  Still there is disagreement.  I opt for 
a lesser degree of perfection and a larger participation.  

All the knowledge, now readily available, has the end effect of relaying the 
message to a new enthusiast that having a garden is like learning French 
again.  It scares off a newbie.  I'm for leaving the door open.  In time and 
with some experience, learning takes place.

For example the recent question on Elm trees.  I thought this an esoteric 
question of no value to a MG and asking of him knowledge that is entirely 
useless in any circumstance that I can think of excepting the horticultural 
cocktail party.  As learning the garden and being a gardener is supposed to 
be a happy practice, overloading the brain and diminishing the gardener will 
only chase him away.  With a <BG> here, I guess I could be accused of the 
selling attitude.  However, no selling, no expansion of availability, no 
progress.  If you have traveled out of the country or subscribed to lists 
with outside of the US membership, you can see a bit more scholarship.  The 
Latinate form and plant key use is pretty much accepted.  Here we are still 
working on it.

I have learned to use plant keys and find them a brainsplitting chore 
reserved for a day when you feel especially brilliant.  Hence, I would 
welcome the widespread use of DNA ID.  This should do it once and for all.  I 
expect the cost will need to come down a great deal and I expect that it will 
happen in the future.

The cultivar thing is another area of concern.  That is one of law.  
Considering the number of plants in commerce and not in commerce, I think the 
given name mess will be around for a long time.  Some books with really good 
research will show a long list of synonyms.  Other, as stated by Marge 
elsewhere, parrot an earlier book.  It is quite amazing how a "fact" can 
remain alive through the years because one author pinched the previous, and 
so on through the years.  In some cases the exact words and punctuation are 
quoted, no new information or attempt at confirmation of information is done.

In summary, it is noted that all fields of science suffer from the same 
variable application of previously published information.  Marge wrote a good 
summary on hardiness and it could be a guide on where you might start when 
you ask yourself this question.  (Also ask yourself, your information is 
better than you think)

Claire Peplowski
NYS z4  (bowing to the awful winter and going sledding with my grandson) 

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