pbs Digest, Vol 89, Issue 41 on nomenclature

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 09:44:34 PDT
Cherry, there are other frequent case where the gender of the species name
does not match the gender of the genus name. 


Species names are typically adjectives (when they match the gender of the
genus name) or possessive nouns (where they have their own gender). But
there are other peculiar situations which arise occasionally: sometimes
species names are nouns in apposition. In this case, these nouns have their
own gender and are in the nominative case. 


I can think of two broad categories of this phenomenon, one of which is
fairly common, one rare. The common category involves species names which
are old pre-Linnean genus names, e.g. Cyanus as in Centaurea cyanus.
Centaurea is feminine, cyanus is masculine. In the old days, botanists wrote
these old genus names with a capital letter to clue the reader in to the
fact that they are not simply adjectives used incorrectly. The modern
practice is to use a lower case letter for the initial letter of a species
name, thus Centaurea cyanus in modern practice. But in the old days this
would have been written Centaurea Cyanus: the capital letter used for the
first letter of the species name indicating that that word is a pre-Linnaean
genus name.  


The second category is less common. Perhaps the best known example of this
is the small group of names based on words ending -cola (e.g. monticola). A
well known example is the name Sedum cauticola. Many older books give this
name as Sedum cauticolum, since the genus name Sedum is neuter. But the word
cauticol- is not an adjective. It is a noun in apposition (and a noun in the
nominative case). So the correct form of the name is Sedum cauticola. 





Jim McKenney


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