Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'

Rodger Whitlock totototo@mail.pacificcoast.net
Thu, 04 Dec 2003 06:33:18 PST
On 30 Nov 03 at 22:13, Lee Poulsen wrote:

> 5. Should we all re-label our Ipheions? Should we organize an email
> and letter campaign to tell every mail order nursery around the
> world that offers Ipheions that they are really Tristagmas?  ;-)

Not necessarily. If you go back and read John McGregor's 
previous message, in the quoted material

> In 1963, Hamilton P. Traub, editor of Plant Life, wrote:

> "Poeppig (1833) proposed the genus Tristagma, with T. nivale (T.
> nivale Poepp. ex Endl. 1835) as the type.  This generic name has
> priority over Ipheion Rafinesque (1837) with a type (I. uniflorum)
> [Lindl.] Raf.) which has to be transferred to Tristagma on
> phylogenetic grounds."   See:

you see a reason given for considering Ipheion and Tristagma as not 
being distinct genera. If you choose to reject that reason, then you 
are free to continue calling ipheions Ipheion and tristagmas 

Remember that with a very few exceptions, taxonomy is a matter of 
opinion, not prescription. Just because Traub says so doesn't 
necessarily make it so. Other botanists may have equally good reasons 
for rejecting his lumping and continue to distinguish Ipheion from 

In the long run, Traub's proposal will be generally accepted, or not, 
by the botanical community and there is no requirement that the 
horticultural community take his word as definitive. There have been 
many proposed lumpings and splittings of genera and species which 
have not survived the test of time.

We gardeners, on the other hand, actually have to deal with the 
living plants on a day to day basis, not just rarely and only with 
dried specimens. We naturally tend to be more conservative than the 

So go right ahead and keep the old names.

Note that this question of lumping and splitting of taxa is different 
from that of mere synonymy. The old name "Iris stylosa" eventually 
yielded to "Iris unguicularis" which had priority, but they are 
unquestionably the same plant.

I also wonder what work has been done in the ensuing forty years on 
these genera and whether later students of these genera agree with 
Traub's analysis.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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