Moraea comptonii-- what to call it

Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 24 Sep 2006 08:14:32 PDT
Dear Mary,

You asked is it Moraea comptonii, or Homeria comptonii?

  In 1998 Goldblatt and Manning sunk a number of African genera in the 
Iridaceae (tribe Irideae) into Moraea making this already large genus even 
larger with about 195 species. The rationale if I understand it for doing 
this was that the floral characteristics that distinguished these groups 
were thought to be evolving specializations for different pollination 
strategies. Galaxia, Hexaglottis, Homeria, and Gynandriris were gone. Most 
of them just changed to be Moraea with the same species name, but if that 
name was already used they got a new species name as well. The combined 
Moraea genus now became difficult if you were using physical 
characteristics to tell them apart and ironically in the Moraea key for 
their Color Encyclopedia of Cape bulbs they are divided into groups: 
Galaxia, Gynandriris, Hexaglottis, Homeria, and Moraea. In spite of that, 
on the Moraea page they were all lumped together without synonyms (and 
there is no index to help you here either.) Although I love this book and 
find it invaluable, I believe it could have been improved by listed the 
synonyms with those plants and by having an index. There is a changed 
species list at the back so that helps, but that is cumbersome. If a plant 
you know is missing, you can check there to see if the name has been changed.

Since we all still need to use floral characteristics to tell plants apart, 
you still hear people use the group names and on our wiki we elected to put 
the pictures of the species on their subgroup pages listed as Moraea with 
their synonyms and cross reference them on the Moraea page. That way the 
ones that look alike are all together but still can be found on the Moraea 
page if you are looking there. If you search for them you can find them 
both places. If I wanted to figure out the Homeria group species we saw on 
our trip, I'd have to use the key or the changed name page to get a list of 
what species I'd need to look at as I couldn't figure that out from the 
Moraea section of the book. Since Galaxia looks the most different of the 
four, there has been the most resistance about calling it Moraea.

As a number of people on our list have said repeatedly, if the name was 
once published you can still call a plant that has its name changed by that 
name.  So you could say Homeria comptonii L. Bolus or Moraea comptonii (L. 
Bolus) Goldblatt and both would be correct. We gardeners don't usually keep 
a list of plants by who named them however.

Mary Sue

More information about the pbs mailing list