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Re: renaming plants

Well, Claire, I rather think that new gardeners don't even pay
attention to the taxonomic debates, if they should stumble upon them,
because they don't mean anything to someone who is just discovering
gardening; just learning the difference between Zinnias and

Seems to me that gardeners follow a knowledge path that has blinkers
on it...new gardeners can only absorb a certain amount; when that's
absorbed, they move on to another level, paying virtually no
attention to anything that is beyond their ken at the moment....as
you say, "with time and some experience, learning takes place".

I rather deplore what I consider the dumbing down practiced here in
the US - in more areas that botanical nomenclature, but particularly
there; learning a botanical name is no more difficult than learning a
common name if you are just exposed to it enough.  I don't know why
we in the US have to be convinced that something requires no effort
in order to not be scared away from it, but that seems to be the
trend everywhere.  IMO, anything worth doing requires some effort on
the part of the 'doer'.

Taxonomic debate is of intense interest to only a few, although if
you have been gardening for any length of time, you tend to follow it
sort of out of the corner of your eye, as it were, because you
finally discover that, if you want a specific plant, you need to know
which plant is what .

The finer points of taxonomy and nomenclature become more interesting
when you become obsessed by one or another genus, particularly if it
contains species new to cultivation and hard to ID.  I don't think
the lumpers and splitters are doing any damage - except, perhaps, to
themselves when the "discussions" get heated.  From what I understand
of the issues, one has to make up ones own mind which camp (if any)
one will follow and just go on.

The disagreements amongst the taxonomists arise because the issues
are so very complex.  DNA alone is not a cure for identification and
it's not just a single plant that DNA affects, but the relationships
within assorted genera  and to other genera.  From what I gather, DNA
can assist in confirming or denying a relationship, but morphology
still plays an important part in placing plants in one genus or
another or in one family or another.  Naming conventions are almost
another issue - not quite, but almost:-)

I am in the process of reading Deni Browns 'Aroids', which I just
finally got my hands on...and she likens taxonomy to a puzzle.  Some
of the pieces are in the wrong places and some are missing
altogether, with the taxonomist's task being to put the puzzle
together - a rather neat analogy, I thought.  When you look at the
whole mess that way, the shifting begins to make a bit of sense in
the overall picture, if not in the day to day dealing with plants and

Greedy companies who arbitrarily rename plants for market purposes
should be consigned to the forth level of hell forever.  

Plant patents are a vexed issue.  I can't fault a breeder for wanting
to actually get some recompense for what is generally years of
meticulous labor, but I think that, too, has gone overboard. 
Hopefully, that issue will sort itself out over time...hopefully.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
Current Article: Wild, Wonderful Aroids Part 3 - Amorphophallus
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> From: ECPep@aol.com
> 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
> concept for the horticulture world and those who are pragmatists. 
> 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
> individually.  There are international groups regulating taxonomy
> 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
> again.  It scares off a newbie.  I'm for leaving the door open.  In
time and 
> with some experience, learning takes place.

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