Groups etc

John Grimshaw
Sun, 08 Apr 2007 22:53:36 PDT
I think that Dylan's question (see below) about taxa 'lost' in a botanical 
revision is an important one. After Brian Mathew's revision of Iris came out 
and he lumped a lot of horticultural 'species' (probably ancient selections) 
into Iris germanica, the powers that be at Oxford Botanic Garden, where 
there was a good range of these old plants, went out and changed all their 
labels at one stroke to Iris germanica. All the history attached to the 
former name was lost instantaneously and no doubt in future curatorial 
decisions the need to maintain so many accessions of the same species was 
questioned, and some discarded. In such cases there is a very good case for 
using either a cultivar name, if it is a recognisable clone, or group name.

A current example that is interesting me is a Tilia - not bulbous, sorry, 
but I have broad interests. In 1919 Ernest Wilson collected a lime from 
Ullung-Do (Takesima Island) between Japan and Korea. It was named Tilia 
insularis but it is only minimally different from the mainland T. amurensis 
and is now considered to be a form of that species and placed in synonymy as 
such. Wilson undoubtedly collected elite material of it, and sent it to the 
Arnold Arboretum, who passed on a tree to Kew. This has become a most 
beautiful specimen, with large inflorescences of wonderfully scented 
flowers. In consequence it has been much propagated-from and I'm sure that 
all trees in European cultivation labelled Tilia insularis are in fact this 
clone. To my mind it should be given a cultivar name under T. amurensis to 
enable this exceptional entity to be properly recognised.

This case also illustrates a favourite theme of mine, that gardeners 
frequently get an image of a species based on a very limited sample of 
specimens or indeed an illustration, and then are quite surprised when a 
botanist (who has studied a wide range of material) says that an apparently 
dissimilar plant is also the same species.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

Easter Monday 9 April, Arboretum Weekend 15-16 September
Gates open 1pm, last entry 4 pm

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dylan Hannon" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 11:30 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Arum

> John,
> Thank you for that concise clarification. On a related note, I have
> long wondered if there is any provision (from botanical or
> horticultural codes) for validly published names that are synonymized
> in the scientific literature yet represent 'taxa' that retain
> recognizable characteristics useful in horticulture. Some nurserymen
> will use these names parentheically, after the accepted "mother name",
> but is there a better way?
> The basis for such distinctiveness (in the eyes of some) can be
> natural- clones that stand out as different, or sampling from slightly
> distinct wild populations- or from goings on in the garden. Whatever
> the case they were conceived under nomenclatural rules and have proper
> published descriptions, type(s), etc. These taxa, if they are that,
> end up in a sort of no-man's land but of course they may be
> resurrected later in the scientific literature after further study.

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