Ploidy and Fertility

J.E. Shields
Wed, 12 Dec 2007 13:24:40 PST
Hi Jim McK!

Well, you were living in the real world, whereas a handful of botanists 
were trying to make "Amaryllis" the genus name of the South American bulbs 
we now call "Hippeastrum."

 From the 1930s onward, Uphoff in 1938 proposed that Amaryllis really 
referrerd to the New World species.  Dr. Hamilton P. Traub then supported 
this determinedly for the rest of his life.  Traub carried on a lengthy 
campaign to get the South African species Amaryllis belladonna moved into a 
different genus (any different genus!)   He and several other botanists 
discovered and named many new species from South America, putting them all 
in the genus Amaryllis.   Traub was the editor of HERBERTIA and PLANT LIFE, 
in which journal (same journal, a couple of name changes along the way) 
most of the papers describing these new species were published.

The species for the most part were quite valid new taxons, so that part of 
things was OK.  The choice of genus name was the bone of contention.

In the 1980s, that effort by Traub et al.  fell apart on several 
fronts:  an international commission ruled that Amaryllis applied to the 
South African species (still monotypic at that time, I believe) and that 
the New World species that had be named as Amaryllis must be called 
Hippeastrum.  Dr. Traub passed away at about the same time.  Actually, Dr 
Traub came close to "proving" that the original type for Amaryllis was in 
fact a New World species, or at least that there was great doubt as to just 
what plant the type specimen for the original description actually was.

Peter Goldblatt proposed formally in 1984 that Amaryllis be recognized as 
the name for the African species, and that a new type that was clearly the 
Cape Belladonna be designated. The commission ruled that the many years of 
usage of Amaryllis for the African plant were to be given precedence 
(regardless of the particular facts of Linneaus's original specimen), so 
they followed Goldblatt's proposal and "conserved" Amaryllis as the name 
for the African plant and at the same time they conserved Hippeastrum as 
the name for the many New World species.

Now HERBERTIA is edited by Dr. Alan Meerow, and the journal of course 
treats the New World species as Hippeastrum.  Alan has indeed been 
co-author on two of the main papers handling the formal transfer of those 
South American species names to Hippeastrum.

I have been looking at as many of the transfer papers as I could find to 
set up a reasonable (but temporary) list of species names in Hippeastrum in 
one place -- at least until Alan and his collaborator, Dr. Julie Dutilh of 
Brazil, get a formal revision of the genus published.  That partial list is 
sitting on my web site now at:…

This is indeed ancient history.  It was in the course of reviewing that 
history, to get the authors sorted out for my list of Hippeastrum species, 
that I came across the other paper.  I followed the debates in PLANT 
LIFE/HERBERTIA from about 1970 on as a member of the APLS.  I'll tell you 
this:  the world of taxonomy is a tough place!  Those guys go out for blood.

Best wishes,
Jim Shields

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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