Don't change your labels - was New mystery bulb

Rodger Whitlock
Sat, 09 Jul 2005 07:19:02 PDT
On  7 Jul 05 at 23:53, Leo A. Martin wrote:

[a great deal of good sense]

I have two comments. First, You fail to take into account that 
the concept of genus and species are found in many different
cultures including very "primitive" ones. (Note parentheses.)

Second, you overlook the fact that the botany of cultivated 
plants, including ornamentals, is a worthy field of study in 
its own right. Botany needn't be restricted to plants of 
known wild origin. Edgar Anderson's famous "Plants, Life, and 
Man" gives some examples.

To return to the first point:

In the northern hemisphere, for example, virtually every
culture recognized the genus "oak" and knew there were X kinds
of oaks that were distinct.

Thus, the genus-species binomial is partly rooted in basic 
human psychology.

Alberto Castillo has mentioned on occasion the taxonomic mess
that some South American bulbs present, with (for example)
some species wandering from Beauverdia to Ipheion to
Nothoscordum, perhaps with some extra stops on the way. It's
clear that where a group of plants is actively evolving
(amaryllids in Argentina, the genus Narcissus in the Iberian
peninsula), the binomial system is much harder to apply
because the genera and species aren't so clearly delineated. 

So I ask that the binomials be viewed as more significant than 
a nearly arbitrary two-level grouping of "plants that are alike 
in some way."

Footnote: Quercus is maybe not a good example because it 
contains some very distinct subgenera.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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