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  why scientists don't just give up the names battle
From: Lester Kallus lkallus at earthlink.net> on 2001.07.07 at 20:40:16(6975)
I'd like to offer a differing opinion on the common versus scientific
name. Professionally, I run into frustrations with bacteria names some of
which are on their third name in the 21 years I've been
working. Nevertheless, I do this professionally and so can keep up with it
as long as they tell me ahead of time. Fortunately, the lay public doesn't
use these names so there's no problem. If they did, we might have to
reevaluate our position on changing the names.

Periodically, I've read letters here indicating that some plant I had never
heard of had been renamed to another genus that I also had never heard
of. This didn't affect me and won't affect most other folks. There's no
problem if few know about it. It's the same as when a bacteria is renamed
by the microbiological and medical community. The problem does happen,
though, when it's a plant that's commonly grown.

If the vast majority of people misidentify Pothos and only a small number
of botanists and horticulturists can accurately identify them, how complex
would it be to tell the botanists and horticulturists to find a new name
for the true Pothos and to allow the previously misidentified Pothos to
correctly assume the name? I suspect it would be less complex to
re-educate the botanists and horticulturists than it would the rest of the
"uneducated" public.

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From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2001.07.08 at 09:15:43(6984)
C?mon, guys...

I know you must be driving crazy with all the names changing all the
time, but I don?t think we should try to freeze an evolving science. I know
sometimes it is painful when you have to change your concepts, but it is
part of the life.
The advent of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature can be
considered an important event in Botany, because Botany looked like the
Tower of Babel before it. The Code were designed to keep stability of names,
so we use the concept of priority. The correct name is the first effectively
published. The circunscription of names can change, but they follow rules
that can be understood if you want.
Some people think it would be great if we could use the "easiest" name,
instead of the earliest. I agree it would make some things easier, but we
would implode the stability. Who has to decide when something has to change?
What if someone is not happy? Can He/she change it again? Believe me: If
there we had not the Code, the names would change even more...
Let?s face it. We don?t have to write in our scientific books that
primitive humans had dinossaurs as pets just because almost everybody in
world really thinks it is true (blame Fred Flintstone!). Any misconception
should be corrected, even when more than half of the humans think it is
true. And what should be considered "majority"? I don?t think Chinese people
call Epipremnum as pothos. They will be considered majority in anything
soon! Is plant taxonomy for the whole Mankind or just for Americans?
We are paid to keep the names well applied, so we do it. If you want
imutable names, don?t use Linnean binomials! Call your plant Sliurneht, or
Grumpflilit or even Catiripapo... If you want to be scientific (that is what
you are doing when you say Pothos or Calla) you have to follow the law
(i.e., the Code). People has used this pseudoscience to sell plants.
Scientific names can rise the prices, because they give the impression that
they know exactly what they are selling, but it isn?t true. If plant sellers
are not able to offer a correct Linnean name for the plants they sell, they
SHOULD NOT USE IT, or they are just fooling people.
I can give you an example: Let?s suppose you have bought something called
Calla, a pink Calla. You can see some information about it on internet. It
says Calla is a circunboreal genus with only one species that use to grow in
bogs. So you killed your only Zantedeschia rehmanii treating it like it was
Calla palustris... That?s the problem in having horticultural names being
used like this...
Many of you in Aroid-L know that I am a plant taxonomist that do not love
all the aspects of the linnean taxonomy, mainly because it is not efficient
in dealing with evolving things. However, it is the best way we have to
describe biodiversity, so I still use it.
I agree that some of plant taxonomists change names for some weird
vanity, but most of us are working hard to make the overwhelming diversity
more understandable. Do not blame us. Nature itself was already pretty
confused when we arrived with the tags! It is easy when you consider a few
plants you have in your garden, but try to face the hell in the wild...

Nomenclatural cheers,

Eduardo.

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From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.07.09 at 07:22:26(6987)
-----Original Message-----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Date: Sunday, July 08, 2001 12:15 PM
Subject: Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle

Bravo!!!! VERY well said, Eduardo! You could not have said it any
clearer, even in 'Tarzan' English!

Julius

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From: Betsy Feuerstein ecuador at midsouth.rr.com> on 2001.07.09 at 07:24:01(6988)
Just perhaps Les has hit the nail on the head. If those in the minority, just give
a wee bit with their rigidity, they could have what they basically want. If that is
not acceptable, then the efforts of forcing upon the multitude can continue with
current equal success. Another words, give up the rigidity that there is only one
way. There are many ways to skin a cat if that is what you so choose to do.
Botanics serves a select group basically and it does a reasonably good job of it. I
don't think we are going to teach chemistry to the masses and in the same respect,
I don't think we are going to teach a great deal of botanics to the masses. All
most want is a pretty plant, a different plant, a colorful plant, a whatever plant.
They don't care what you call it. If you make the name so difficult for them, they
will just revert to what they knew it as before. Yes, a few of us like to know what
we are looking at in botanical terms, but let's face it, not many do.

Betsy

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From: Betsy Feuerstein ecuador at midsouth.rr.com> on 2001.07.09 at 07:24:55(6989)
Botanical nomenclature has a perfect place. As you say it is not perfect in all
of its aspect, but it does serve a valid place in science. Is the average person
who deals with plants, dealing in science? Or is he dealing with likes,
dislikes, wants, and needs as far as plants go? He wants a plant that will grow
in the dark, he wants a plant that takes full sun, he wants a plant that will
grow in wet soil, he wants a plant that will live with bad drainage, he wants a
plant because he likes the plant..... Does any of that require the scientific
botanical nomenclature? Certainly knowing such might help him know if the plant
was what he desired or needed, but there may well be a simpler way .... someone
or a tag tells him what he needs to know or what he sees pleases his senses, or
the smell tickles his nose. I don't think the botanical name is going to add
much to his deliberations.

Scientists and some plant enthusiasts want to know plant names and that is
great. Some of us like to grow the plants and if we have a tidbit of
nomenclature to go along with it, super. Some just love the plants. Let's
consider that some need the clarification of nomenclature, some want it, and
some don't give a darn and maybe move on to something new.

Betsy

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From: Lester Kallus lkallus at earthlink.net> on 2001.07.09 at 07:25:48(6990)
On the contrary - I'm absolutely convinced (at least with bacteria) that
there's an clandestine international committee that meets periodically to
arbitrarily change the names of bacteria just to keep the rest of the world
confused.

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From: Lewandjim at aol.com on 2001.07.09 at 17:03:17(6995)
This is descending into a discussion between people who are simply not
talking the "same language". Taxonomists arnd hobbyists are not at odds with
one another.

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From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2001.07.09 at 17:03:53(6997)
Dear Les,

Maybe you have seen "The X-Files" too much!!! We don?t have enough time for
clandestine comittees... Try to understand how we feel preparing a Flora of
a poorly collected area from the tropical biodiversity hell. We are not
arbitrarily confusing people... we are confused ourselves!!!!

Take me to your leader,

Eduardo

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From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2001.07.09 at 17:04:57(7002)
Hi, Betsy & other Fangs!

Good to see that you are AWWWWWWWWL agreeing!
The first thing any Chinaman who visits here asks is wot's its name, and if
you are silly & not serious, they say, No, its REAL name I mean please!
Maybe you don't have that problem when you just keep anything you like?

You may not already know but I only keep (watch my lips)SPA-THI-PHY-LLUM. I
have to know what I'm growing for all the people who'll want to know what my
plants are & where they came from after I'm dead. Its a religious thing.
And do Ye know today I got news of more bastards with funny names that I
can't trace the parents of. Some are nearly fifty years old and they still
don't know who their parents were! Come on, folks, you'd like your
offsprings offsprings offspring to know what your real name was in fifty
years even if you'd changed it by deed poll several times, and even if some
people had nicknamed you "Fred". YOU know what your real names are but they
might not. VERY sad. Let the posh name with the nickname be on the
supermarket pot, then you can repot it and can call it what you like but for
Gawds sake don't let it breed. If you do, please don't start growing &
hybridising Peace Lilies, PLEASE! Over one hundred years of renaming then
propagating, renaming & even HYBRIDISING & renaming renaming and....
Aliases, aliases! Oh, oh, I faint! Please if you have any Spaths straight
from the wild, you know where they came from, not just seeds, then there's
only one perfect DNA identifiable place please....HERE.....Please? Please?
Please? Please? Please? Please?

Can I join in the fight or shall I be an unfair referee?

Ronny (alias Ron, Green Maverick, Devil's Advocate, Green Fog, Spath Cobra
ad inf)

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From: Jill Bell godjillab at home.com> on 2001.07.09 at 20:36:19(7003)
on 7/9/01 10:24 AM, Betsy Feuerstein at ecuador@midsouth.rr.com wrote:
I would like to reply to this discussion, being a complete amateur as a
horticulturist in the world of botanists and taxonomists. I have been
attracted to plants and specifically those of the aroid family for almost
thirty years. When I first found myself in garden centers and plant shops
asking questions and then buying horticultural dictionaries and books and
finally Exotica, I realized that the "common name" of a plant had nothing to
do with what it was, it was usually just a very low level description. In
essence, it told me nothing. I started to learn and remember the Greek and
Latin names for the plants and learned about genus and family and species,
and started to see an organizational relationship. The names alone were
able to get this information across to me, certainly there was too much
diversity in the foliage and such for me to have garnered this knowledge any
other way. For people who "just want a plant" for their table or window, a
purple passion would be perfect - I just as soon order one in a bar.
There needs to be no more information for this sort of application. But for
those that cross the line, and need to organize, I can see no better way but
this particular order out of chaos. It is the informational architecture
that can be universally understood, even by an amateur.
Best Regards,

-- Jill Bell

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From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2001.07.09 at 20:38:13(7005)
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

From: "Cooper, Susan L." SLCooper at scj.com> on 2001.07.10 at 07:10:02(7006)
Good point, Jim. Your note about permanency reminded me about a comment
someone made about the writer Stephen King: something to the effect that
his books are popular now, but in 20-30 years (or less) they will be
difficult to read due to the fact that he uses so many brand names. I just
read a book of his where he kept mentioning a certain type of toy by name,
and for half the book I had no idea of what he was talking about (the wooden
paddle with a rubber band thing attached, with a rubber ball on the end).

I'm only a hobbyist (and I wouldn't call my thumb green), and I still call
Zantedeschia calla lilies sometimes, but when people mention voodoo lilies I
have no idea what they are talking about!
Susan Cooper

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From: Jonathan Ertelt jonathan.ertelt at vanderbilt.edu> on 2001.07.10 at 12:13:21(7009)
>Good point, Jim. Your note about permanency reminded me about a comment
>someone made about the writer Stephen King: something to the effect that
>his books are popular now, but in 20-30 years (or less) they will be
>difficult to read due to the fact that he uses so many brand names. I just
>read a book of his where he kept mentioning a certain type of toy by name,
>and for half the book I had no idea of what he was talking about (the wooden
>paddle with a rubber band thing attached, with a rubber ball on the end).
>
>I'm only a hobbyist (and I wouldn't call my thumb green), and I still call
>Zantedeschia calla lilies sometimes, but when people mention voodoo lilies I
>have no idea what they are talking about!
>Susan Cooper

Susan,

A good point from you as well, and somewhat ironic that you should
choose a common name which I have heard referring to at least four
different genera. Quite honestly, if the scientific genus name has not been
mentioned already, then most of the aroiders on the list couldn't be sure
which plant(s) were being referred to by the common name 'voodoo lily' -
they could assume, but with no guarantees. Thus the limited value of common
names and how they're applied!

Jonathan

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2001.07.10 at 21:17:28(7011)
In a message dated Sun, 8 Jul 2001 12:16:19 PM Eastern Daylight Time, "Eduardo Goncalves" writes:

<< And what should be considered "majority"? I don?t think Chinese people
call Epipremnum as pothos. They will be considered majority in anything

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2001.07.10 at 21:18:38(7012)
In a message dated Mon, 9 Jul 2001 11:38:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Neil Carroll writes:

<< I collect plants for many different reasons. ...THe genes are only looking for a vessel and the people only
want something beautiful and/or interesting in their lives.>>

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From: Paul Tyerman ptyerman at ozemail.com.au> on 2001.07.11 at 07:55:13(7016)
>
>Am I the only one who takes an interest in certain plants BECAUSE of their
names? In the colud forest of Costa Rica grows a species of Peperomia
whose binomial is P. hernandiifolia. As you who remember my name may have
guessed, it was the plant's name I found intriguing (as well as the peltate
leaves). And in seeking to learn the meaning of such a name, I was led to
the unrelated genus Hernandia, in the family Hernandiaceae. Again, it is
the name I found intriguing; the name served as the gateway to learn more.
>
>Jason Hernandez

Jason,

I own Davallia tyermanni (Silver Hares Foot Fern) and Rhododendron
tyermanii for exactly the same reasons. Have never been able to find out
who the Tyerman was who discovered these species was though. Don't think
that he/she was into aroids though .

Have always loved Dracula vampira (Orchidaceae) for the name as well
(particularly as it has hanging black flowers).

Cheers.

Paul Tyerman

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From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.07.11 at 12:30:14(7020)
-----Original Message-----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2001 12:21 AM
Subject: Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle

In a message dated Sun, 8 Jul 2001 12:16:19 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

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From: Piabinha at aol.com on 2001.07.14 at 20:05:13(7040)
In a message dated 7/9/2001 10:23:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time, eduardo
goncalves writes:

Call your plant Sliurneht, or

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From: magrysbo at shu.edu on 2001.07.16 at 19:18:34(7051)
That's why I got Peltoboykinia watanabe.
Do you know what is the name of the cross of the genera Doritis with
Gastorchis in the orchid family? ---- Gastritis!

Still looking for a Clitoria,
BWM

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