Albucas and other South African Hyacinthaceae
Wed, 26 Mar 2008 03:47:06 PDT
> It would be useful to go back to the original description by Linnaeus to know what is the derivatio nominis of the name.

Interestingly, having just done this, Linnaeus was under no illusion about where the plant came from as he states "Habitat in Africa" in his Species Plantarum (1753).  The confusion appears to originate from earlier in history, for under his Ornithogalum canadense Linnaeus cites Jacques-Philippe Cornut's 1635 publication Canadensium plantarum, aliarumque nondum editarum historia, which describes and illustrates about 30 Canadian plants (and other previously unaccounted for ones).  To add to the confusion though, Cornut did not appear to believe that the plant came from Canada either, as he describes it as "Ornithogalum luteovirens indicum", suggesting an origin in India or the West Indies.  The illustration by Cornut can be found in Gunn & Codd's Botanical Exploration of Southern Africa, where they also mention 4 other bulbs that are illustrated in this obscure early publication: Chasmanthe aethiopica, Cybistetes longifolia, Nerine sarniensis and Romulea rosea (C. longifolia and R. rosea are also considered to be Indian by Cornut, while N. sarniensis is suggested to be Japanese!).
So maybe Linnaeus just decided to name Ornithogalum canadense (Albuca Canadensis) after Cornut's book rather than Canada? Interesting to hypothesise but I guess we will never know.


Dr Christopher Whitehouse
Keeper of the Herbarium
RHS Garden Wisley
Surrey GU23 6QB
Tel: 01483 224234
Fax: 01483 211750

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