Gladiolus murielae taxonomy question

Jim McKenney
Tue, 07 Jun 2011 11:39:59 PDT
Does anyone know the story behind the revival of the name Gladiolus murielae?

This species was described in 1844 as Acidanthera bicolor, and was  well established in cultivation at the beginning of the twentieth century (and maybe before) as Acidanthera bicolor. For those who merge Acidanthera and Gladiolus, there is a minor nomenclatural  problem:  the old species name bicolor could not be used because the name Gladiolus bicolor was already in use.

Kelway's name Gladiolus murielae was coined (published in 1932)  for a commercial entity which I take to be a minor horticultural improvement of the plant already well-known as Acidanthera bicolor. Since Kelway published this name in the Gardeners Chronicle, it can hardly be said to have been languishing in some obscure journal. Yet throughout the twentieth century very few authorities if any used the combination Gladiolus murielae in the better gardening literature. 

Perhaps the reason that Acidanthera bicolor persisted in the literature is that it provided an easy dodge: there was uncertainty about what to call this plant as a member of the genus Gladiolus, but there was no uncertainty about what to call it as a member of the genus Acidanthera.  In 1972 the name Gladiolus callianthus was proposed for this plant, and for the remainder of the twentieth century that was the name which appears in the better literature.

Why was Gladiolus callianthus proposed in the first place? It's hard to believe that those involved did not know of Kelway's name, and if they did I wonder if Kelway's Gladiolus murielae was eschewed for other reasons.  

Here's what I'm getting at: if the majority of authoritative sources used the name Gladiolus callianthus for a quarter century, what triggered the revival of the name Gladiolus murielae? I can't help but notice that if Kelway had published the name as Gladiolus 'Muriel's', I would not be asking these questions. But the use of a Latinized name (a common practice at the time and one not necessarily  intended to have formal botanical significance) seems to have elevated this name Gladiolus murielae for consideration as a legitimate botanical epithet.

What do the champions of the name Gladiolus murielae see which other authorities missed for the better part of a century?

Jim McKenney

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