Gladiolus murielae again; was Re: Publishing taxa in Latin and in print: ave atque vale

Jim McKenney
Fri, 22 Jul 2011 12:09:59 PDT
I’m loving this discussion about the role of Latin in botanical descriptions. I wonder how many of you realize that the requirement that such descriptions be in Latin is a relatively new one. If I’m reading the ICBN correctly, names published before 1939 need not have been accompanied by a Latin diagnosis.
Weeks ago I raised questions about the reason for the revival of the name Gladiolus murielae. John Grimshaw responded with " It's a simple issue of the rules of taxonomy: priority is priority, and Goldblatt has judged Kelway's publication of G. murielae to be valid."  

Goldblatt has, but should the rest of us? 

Plenty of botanists ignored the publication of the name Gladiolus murielae for well over a half century. Why? I took a look at the item in the Gardener’s Chronicle on which this name is based: it quickly became obvious to me why for generations angels have feared to tread there. 

The Kew List gives the citation for the name as:
"Gladiolus murielae Kelway, Gard. Chron., III, 92: 107 (1932).
This name is accepted."

I’ve reproduced the entire text of the Gardener’s Chronicle item here:…

 As you read it, see if you can find any of the following:

- the author of the name 
- any mention of a type specimen
- any mention of a type locality
- any picture, drawing or photograph of the plant in question
- any comparison of this plant to other closely related species
- any mention of the virtually identical plant widely grown in cultivation at the time as Acidanthera bicolor. 

With regard to the author of the name, note that the article does not state the author of the name, and the note which prompted the GC article is attributed to Messrs Kelways (sic), not to any individual named Kelway or Kelways. 

The description, such as it is, (and notice that it is the description of the plant shown in exhibition the previous year)  gives the sort of information which would be important to prospective purchasers but not the sort of detailed morphological description expected in a botanical description. 

It's bogus.

Although in no way reflecting on the validity of the points made above, there is also this ironic fact: if this vaunted Gladiolus murielae was in fact in some way distinct from the plant widely grown as Acidanthera bicolor – even if such differences were of horticultural significance only – is there any evidence that it still exists in cultivation?  

Jim McKenney

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