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  examples of botanical nomenclature
From: Steve Marak <samarak at gizmoworks.com> on 2010.10.01 at 16:12:25(21519)

This appeal for help is somewhat off-topic, so please excuse it (and
delete it, if you're not interested).

I'm looking for examples of a couple of things in the area of botanical
nomenclature, and I can think of no better group to ask than the people on
this list.

The first is the most complex example of a valid (and preferably,
currently accepted) name, of any plant (i.e., not restricted to aroids),
whether that complexity comes from ranks below species or multiple
authorities or both. One of the best ones I have now is:

Paphiopedilum barbigerum Tang & Wang var. coccineum (Perner & Herrm.)

which conveniently (for me) even has a synonym, but I'm looking for
something even more complex, if it exists. Knowing the publication would
be nice, too, but is not essential for what I'm after. (Examples of
similar complexity to the above but using other ranks - subsp., f., etc. -
would also be appreciated.)

The second question is what plant, again regardless of family, has the
most synonyms? I'm aware of one poor orchid with, if I counted correctly,
55, but I suspect there are plants even more confused about their
identities out there. For my purposes I'm concerned only with whether the
name now appears as a synonym of the currently accepted name and not so
much how it got there (i.e., whether it was validly published and later
reduced to synonomy, nom. illeg., etc). I realize that whatever
the answer is, it can change, but again that's not a concern for me at the

All help or pointers to good places to find the answer myself will be
appreciated. I've spent plenty of time on Tropicos, IPNI, etc., but my
oddball questions are not easily answered with those tools - or perhaps I
just don't know how to ask them.


From: "Tom Croat" <Thomas.Croat at mobot.org> on 2010.10.01 at 18:25:49(21520)
Dear Steve:

I think that you will have a hard time coming up with something
with more than 55 synonyms. If you do it will be some widespread taxon,
like Poa annua, a grass. It would have to be one that is variable and
ranges all over the world. Most aroids are too endemic to have many


From: Johannes Moonen <emeraldjunglevillage at wanadoo.fr> on 2010.10.01 at 19:28:31(21522)
Dear Steve,

the plant with the most synonyms I know is a common good sized
neotropical orchid Epidendrum nocturnum.

I think in old colonial times all botanists and plant collectors found
it and everybody described it separately in different universities the
home countries Spain, Portugal, Brittain, Holland etc.

Best whishes, Joep

From: Hannon <othonna at gmail.com> on 2010.10.01 at 22:42:31(21524)

At the family level probably none exceeds the Cactaceae for ratio of
synonyms to accepted names-- both at the genus and species levels.
There are also plenty of trinomials and doubtless some quadrinomials.
The new cactus lexicon and Edward F. Anderson's "The Cactus Family"
are good places to browse.


From: Hannon <othonna at gmail.com> on 2010.10.02 at 00:02:54(21525)

I think this is an example of what you are after?

Sessilanthera latifolia (Weath.) Molseed & Cruden ssp. heliantha
(Ravenna) Molseed & Cruden

Try searching on the 'net with "botanical quadrinomial" with or
without adding "ssp."

From: Eric Walton <eric.walton at otago.ac.nz> on 2010.10.02 at 05:23:24(21528)
Dear All

According to Kew's World Checklist, Canna indica has 134 synonyns.

While I am typing anybody know a source of Canna liliiflora? Please e-mail me privately.

Kind regards

Eric Walton

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