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Re: [IGSROBIN] what's in a name?

This is taken from the book Plant Names by Peter Lumley and my friend Roger
Spencer of the RBG Melbourne and I think explains the inter- relation and
division of plants very well. (I hope).
"In 1753 he (AS note :referring to Linnaeus ) produced a definitive list of
plants <I>Species Planatarum</I>.Like his contemporaries he used diagnoses
but in this book he put a single index word next to each diagnosis. For
Catmint it was <I> cataria</I>. This index word was combined with the name
<I>Nepeta</I> in the diagnosis to form a two- word name referred as a
binomial.  From this time on the use of binomials like <I>Nepeta
cataria</I> became established and <I>Species Plantarum</I> became the
starting point for modern botanical names.
Linnaeus' aim was to classify, describe and name all living organisms. His
"Sexual System" placed plants into categories based on the number of
stamens and styles in the flower.  It was a rather artificial system but
easy to use.  During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries various
attempts were made to provide a more "natural" system; one in which those
plants with most chatacters in common were classified together.
In spite of the diversity of classification systems proposed there was an
accepted hierarchy of ranks just as there is in the armed forces.  Although
the armed forces of the world's nations may be very different in
organisation and function, the hierarchy of ranks is remarkably similar,
making it easy to equate , for instance, an officer in the Panamanian
air-force with one in the Australian navy.  No doubt uniformity arose
partly through convenience and partly because of an understanding of the
optimum size of groups in a classification . In plant classification some
common ranks are, in ascending order, variety(AS note:or
form)subspecies,species,genus family and order.
One useful result of a system of this sort is that it is predictive-in
knowing that a plant belongs to a particular group you will also know that
it shares MANY features with the other members."

I hope that clears up the understanding of the system of grouping.Roger did
not mention sub-genus which the dictionary defines as a division of a genus
and accordingly fits in between species and genus.
To further differentiate, botanists divide further the sub-genus into
"sections"grouping together plants more closely related.
We have thus:
Family ..Geraniaceae
Within that Family: Genus-Geranium
Genus Pelargonium is then sub-divided into sub-genus:
eniformia.I also note Seymouria which is usually combined with Hoarea and
sometimes you find mention of Dibrachya which is usually combined with
After this we have the various species of each sub-genus.I have not noted
any attempts to further divide the various sub-genus Pelargonium as has
been the case with the Geranium Genus.( see Dr. Peter Yeo 's book)
When I refer to a family, it is not unlike when I speak of the SCRIVEN
Family meaning all of my Scriven relatives then we have MY Family which
means a group of my wife and my Sons as a family unit.So it is with the
Geraniaceae Family (the whole bunch) The Pelargonium Family meaning the
group belonging to the genus Pelargonium or the Geranium Family as
belonging to the genus Geranium or the Erodium Family as the Erodium Genus.
I trust this clarifies my interpretation and use of the classifications
that I use from time to time.
By the way, there is considerable doubt about the so-called crosses used in
creating the Regals.  Much of it is guesswork rather than factual.
Hybridizers tended to tell "fibs" in the good old days trying to keep to
themselves the truth about the hybrids they produced.  As I said in my
earlier e-mail, its a pity that a fair dinkum registrar of hybrids was not
kept.  These days DNA tests can help to substantiate the ancestary of
plants as in humans and many "species" are being re-tested to determine
their proper status.
Geraniaceae is all around the World

> From: Andrew <awilson@FDA.NET>
> Subject: Re: what's in a name?
> Date: Saturday, 29 May 1999 16:42
> Dear Alby and Cynthia,
> While I appreciate the information you've given there seems to be a
> problem. Let me put this as carefully as I can without trying to get
> anyone upset, but I don't see how both of you can be right!  Here's the
> problem. Alby says, if I interpret him correctly, you cannot get crosses
> between members of different sections (sub-groups); Cynthia says that
> the Regals came from crosses between species that belonged to different
> sections (P. cucullatum , P. betulinum are in the de Candolle section,
> P. grandiflorum is in the Glaucophyllum section while P. fulgidum is in
> the Ligularia section).
> Can somebody help clear this one up? I've never understood the sections.
> The definition of them is usually given pretty loosely and it ends up
> with a list saying which species belongs where but does not tell
> precisely why. Are the distinctions really based on genetic differences
> and on the ability to procreate only through intra-section and, of
> course, intra-species coupling? Or is there possibly a distinction
> between the terms 'sub-genus' and 'family' as used by Alby (see below)
> that I am not understanding? Or have there been name changes that
> confuse the definition of the species involved in the developoment of
> these wonderful but highly convoluted hybrid plants?
> I did not intend the original question I had to lead to this but now
> that it's started it would be helpful to me, and maybe others, to see it
> cleared up. Thanks.
> Andrew
> San Diego, California
> Alby wrote:
> " Regals
> are part of the Pelargonium/Pelargium sub-genus whilst Zonals belong to
> an
> entirely different family known as Ciconium.  Ivies, that is P.Peltatum
> from their own family have crossed with zonals or Ciconiums.   It has
> been
> thought that the (sub-genus)Pelargonium family may cross with the
> Peltatums
> and thus the resultant hybrid may then cross with a Ciconium.
> Personally
> my opinion for what its worth is "NUTS".
> Cynthia wrote:
> "Take Pelargonium cucullatum (1672) Pelargonium Betulinum(1786)
> Pelargonium
> grandiflorum(1794) Pelargonium fulgidum (1732) and other conjecturals
> that
> share the same chromosome combinations and the First early hybrids were
> made
> in England 1800-1840....the early "regals" large ruffled, heavy markings
> were
> born in 1877-1914".

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