Arum - naming a Group

Jane McGary
Mon, 09 Apr 2007 10:52:13 PDT
John Grimshaw wrote,
This subject has been frequently discussed here. While it is indeed true
>that one can pick and choose one's own taxonomy, I always think that if one
>feels confident enough to override a technical expert in the field who has
>invested a great deal of time and resources into reaching a conclusion, then
>one must be able to put forward on equal terms a convincing argument why
>such and such a taxonomic viewpoint should be rejected. It is not sufficient
>to say 'I don't like it' - that is the way of the Luddites.

Because I can't do such research and present such arguments, when I'm 
confronted with a group of plants that I grow for which the taxonomy is 
currently controversial, I think it's best, when publishing a garden 
article or offering them for sale, to take the following steps:
(1) Point out that a controversy exists at the date of writing, and 
possibly has existed for some years.
(2) Identify the source of the plant under discussion or offer, from which 
the name you may choose to give first position to has been derived; and 
point out any published authority on which you're relying for names.
(3) Give as many synonyms as may be appropriate (not very obsolete ones, 
but those that may be seen in fairly recent literature).
(4) Perform a clear rhetorical throwing up of the hands and cast the 
decision onto whatever classification may come to be accepted in the 
future, or onto the preferences of your readers/buyers.

This is essentially the procedure I have followed for several years in 
offering Narcissus species in my bulb list, a genus in which two distinct 
schools of thought on classification presently coexist. I haven't yet 
decided what to do about Scilla; I expect some of Speta's new (or revived) 
genera will "stick," but perhaps not all will, so "Scilla" will continue to 
appear in my list as at least a synonym.

Annoyance at innovations that don't seem to be useful is probably a 
universal human characteristic, but botanists are at least less annoying 
than the software designers at Microsoft.

Jane McGary
Editor, NARGS

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