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Species Epithets

  • Subject: Species Epithets
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 14:29:45 -0400

Hi Ben and George,
        I believe either of these two naming conventions is acceptable to
the ICNCP, which leaves the ICRA with the choice on these. The ICNCP does
now ban the lone use of Latin, English, and other language color or pattern
descriptives for a hosta name, hence the plant cannot simply be called
'Nakafu'. The choice then is to add the species epithet (Ben), convert the
species epithet to Japanese and make it part of the cultivar name (George),
or to rename or ask that it be renamed to an acceptable cultivar name. If
keeping the 'Nakafu' and simply adding a species epithet is illegal under
the code, then it is no longer an option. In the future we will probably be
discussing American Hosta Society naming rules, but there are none as of
this writing. This is one of many issues that we will probably be taking up
at that time.
        I am in favor of discontinuing for any newer plants the practice of
using the species name first, especially of only followed by a color or
pattern descriptive. There are several reasons why I think this is the best
course, which I will outline below.

1. It is too simplistic to cover hostas, which sport far more frequently
than other plants. For example, there are several white margined plants of
pure montana lineage in the market today as well as several more
lesser-known ones in Japan. Possibly there are as many as a dozen in
existance now. The most famous of these is 'Frosted Jade', with 'Mountain
Snow' a close second. If a new one is found in Japan, or sports elsewhere
for that matter, should we allow it to be named montana 'Albomarginata' or
montana 'Shirofukurin' (same thing in Japanese instead of Latin)? The real
problem with names like that is that they only work if there is only one
white-margined montana. They can cause significant confusion if there are
several, and the purpose of the ICNCP is to reduce confusion, not increase
it. To allow a plant to be named in essence Hosta montana 'White Margined'
when there are numerous white-margined montanas clearly causes a problem in
the records.

2. Existing names. As in the above example, the word "montana" is used in
the names of some white-margined montana forms but not all. To accept
further names along these lines when many already lack the species epithet
continues adding unnecessary confusion. There are a large number of plants
of pure species lineage that do not carry the species epithet already in the
trade, especially sieboldianas. It adds to confusion to have some with the
species and some without, especially if there is no other difference between
the plants as far as species backgound goes.

3. The somewhat fluid nature of hosta species. Do we know which hostas are
species and which are not? Georges redefinition of the species is largely
accepted today, but what if in the future Ben's version holds sway? In the
examples in #1, what happens if, as Ben wishes, montana ceases to be a
species? The difference in George's naming convention is that it will not be
an issue because the species epithet is converted to a part of the cultivar
name and changed to Japanese form. While a better solution is to use a name
that fits the code for English usage and does not include the species name
in any form, the problem is that we cannot change the name without the
originator's permission.

4. The difficulty in determining if a plant is truly of a given species and
is not a hybrid with a similar appearance. This came up in the past with
such plants as kikutii 'Kifukurin', since determined to be either longipes
or a hybrid and renamed. There would be quite a bit of renaming if we just
let anyone register plants as species examples when their background is
uncertain. Remember that these plants can be registered by anyone without
any scientific examination to determine their species background.

      Overall, I feel the best solution would be to disallow the use of a
species epithet altogether, even to the extent of renaming old plants like
montana 'Aureomarginata' to common names like 'Mountain Sunset'. These names
 mostly came into existance before we realized the sheer number of sports we
would eventually see. At best we should slowly transfer the use of such
names to the past with quaint old names like Funkia. True, these epithets
can be useful, but only if they are accurate, but I feel they are more
confusing than useful however accurate and should be abandoned entirely at
some point. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a practical approach at
this time, and agree with George's approach as being an acceptable
transition phase.

                                       ..........Bill Meyer

> THis is a classic example for creating a problem first and then find
> a brilliant solution. If we leave the species name kiyosumiensis
> with the cultivar name Nakafu there is no problem However if the
> very informative species name is left out, without any argument,
> we have a problem that is "solved" by adding at the end the same
> species name in japanese!  So if I want to use the species name
> anyway we have H. kiyosumiensis 'Nakafu kiyosumiense' I think
> the original name H. kiyosumiensis Nakafu must be adhered to.
> Ben J.M.Zonneveld
> Institute of Biology,Leiden University, Clusius lab
> Wassenaarse weg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands
> Zonneveld@rulbim.Leidenuniv.NL
> Fax: +31-71-5274999. min temp -10C (15F)
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> To sign-off this list, send email to majordomo@hort.net with the
Hi All,
Please let me correct this: It is H. kiyosumiensis not H. kyosumiensis. The
ICNCP does not allow the use of a descriptive (adjectival) name as the sole
cultivar name, hence H. kiyosumiensis 'Nakafu' is illegitimate per article
19D.1. of the ICNCP. The ICNCP article 19.4 does allow a cultivar name in
its Japanese form by adding the Japanese vernacular species name so the
correct name is H. 'Nakafu Kiyosumi' which is also the vernacular Japanese
name. H. 'Busen' could be used as a synonym and is permissible by the ICNCP
but was apparently withdrawn. George

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  • References:
    • Nakafu
      • From: "zonneveld" <zonneveld@rulbim.leidenuniv.nl>

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