Botanical Latin naming question?

Started by illahe, January 15, 2023, 09:38:11 AM

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Hello All, 

I have a dainty little bloom opening now in the bulb house for the first time, It was from Vlastimil Pilous seed sown in 2019. This is the description that the seed came as: Colchicum zangezurum (Zangezur Mts., Armenia), spring. fls., very rare, dwarf.

Internet doesn't turn up much on this species, but does have this to say under Colchcicum freynii:
    Homotypic Synonyms
    Heterotypic Synonyms

    Can anyone explain the difference between a Heterotypic synonym and a Homotypic synonym? The recently published Colchicum guide lists C. zangezurum as a synonym of C. freynii and what I'm really wondering is when you get wild collected seed from a reputable source do you use the name you got it under or revert to the newest names. I keep thinking that the floras of the local area which I assume the local collector used, may do a better job of guiding folks in the future versus constant revisioning. 



    Martin Bohnet

    I don't know how this translates to the Homo (same) and Hetero (different)-fragments, but judging by the example, a heterotypic synonym is a species name that's not accepted, and a homotypic synonym is a species wrongly described as subspecies of another.

    Besides that the splitting and lumbing is an ongoing fight between different schools of taxonomists. I personally oppose your theory of "local knows best", for the "cui bono" analysis of it: people doing the fieldwork have a heightened interest to describe new (sub) species and getting to name them - often in honor of people they have reason to expect to return the favor. And a paper about  "new species of X" is bound to be read by more people than "New locations for Genus wellknownis".
    Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)



    Try Dimitri in Ukraine.

    He's a real guru of Colchicums.

    You cna find him on FB.
    Arnold T.
    North East USA

    Steve Marak

    I believe this just means that while the names are considered synonyms, the heterotypic synonym is based on a different specimen ("type") than the one on which the currently accepted name is based. A homotypic synonym is a name that is not the currently accepted name, but was based on the same specimen. You can see the definitions here:

    A botanist publishes a new species, Species A based on specimen A. Another botanist decides later that it has to be renamed for some reason so it's now Species B, but since that name is still based on specimen A, the original name (Species A) becomes a homotypic synonym. Meanwhile, someone decides Species C, whose name was based on specimen C, is really the same species, but is a junior (later) name, so Species C becomes a heterotypic synonym.

    I welcome correction from those more knowledgeable about botanical nomenclature.

    As to what name you should use, I can only tell you what I do. In general, I use the currently accepted name (i.e., the newest one, even if that happens to be an old name that's been revived). If I happen to know that species or genus is the subject of ongoing work and is still in question, or if I know that very few people have switched over to the currently accepted name yet, I'll put a couple of names on the tag. If I think for some reason the name given by the collector is wrong, I'll use what I think it is and note "received as" on the tag. (Yeah, my tags get pretty cluttered. Sometimes there's more than one.)



    Thanks All, 

    This is interesting and helpful. The botanical nomenclature world can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially for a nursery professional trying to keep up with names and get product out to customers without causing confusion. 

    It makes sense to go with the latest revisions for sure, but as a grower, I sure wish they would keep it simple, like a Colchicum from the Zangezur Mountains is named Colchicum zangezurum. 


    Hi, the explanations are correct.

    I will ask Dimitri but for the time being, if Colchicum freynii was published before zangezurum and both plants (types) are the same species, then freynii is the name to use, and zangezurum is a heterotypic synonym.

    Maybe someone published C. freynii subsp. zangezurum, then  it's up to you to decide if you prefer to treat it as a species or not. 

    Carlos Jiménez
    Valencia, Spain, zone 10
    Dry Thermomediterranean, 450 mm


    Thanks Carlos! Sounds like we need to get Dimitri on the forum with his knowlege of Colchicum. I'll make some notes to correct this species name. 

    all the best,