Skunk Cabbages

Jane McGary
Sat, 14 Jul 2007 12:56:18 PDT
Mary Sue asked,

>I noticed on the web there are various ways of spelling used for the yellow
>flowered species. Jane spells it one way (Lysichiton americanum), but when
>I looked it up on IPNI and Mobot it was spelled either Lysichiton
>americanus or Lysichitum americanum although Mobot seemed to prefer the
>former.  My field guide and some of my books spell it Lysichitum
>americanum. Kew only lists Lysichiton americanus and doesn't even have a
>synonym listed under the other name.  The dates and references for both
>spellings on IPNI are the same. Can anyone explain about the history of the
>name or add clarification?

I was just mentally copying the neuter forms (-um, -e) that appear in many 
publications, including my regional floras and the RHS Dictionary of 
Gardening, but if the base of the genus name is chiton 'tunic', it's 
masculine (americanus, camschatcensis). Presumably it was once published by 
a botanist who didn't know his Greek very well as a neuter noun, and then 
someone went back and corrected it, hence the masculine gender reflected in 
the newer citations.

Jane McGary

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