Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'

Antennaria@aol.com Antennaria@aol.com
Mon, 01 Dec 2003 20:02:23 PST
Regarding the ongoing discussion of Ipheion vs. Tristagma. I'll be as free 
with my opinion as others.  Regarding the yellow species, sometimes referred to 
as Ipheion, I have been long since convinced that they are more appropriate 
under Nothoscordum, following Thad Howard's impression of the genus.  I grow 
most of the yellow species, and while the assertion seems probable, I often 
wonder about the relationship between the multi-flowered species, such as N. 
montevidense, ostenii, minarum, versus the much larger single-flowered species which 
seem rather different, such as felipponei, hirtellum, and dialystemon 
(felipponei in flower as I write).  The latter group of yellow species seems very 
different than the first group of yellow species.

>>The entire Ipheion genus was subsumed 
>>into Tristagma since at least 1963? Is this true?
>Have you been hiding under a rock somewhere? 
>They are!  I took the citations I quoted from the 
>International Plant Names Index, so they are
>readily available on the Web to anyone 
>interested in pursuing the matter.

Wow! All subtlety aside and sarcasm running amuck.  I haven't experienced 
such a definitive consensus. What amazes me, even in more recent publications, 
more recent than 1963, is the waivering of S. American taxononomic status, not 
only among species, but to which of the many genera they are ascribed to. 
Almost all of the "yellow Ipheions" have been ascribed to 4 or more genera, which I 
find dazzling and indicative of a taxonomic mess.

Back in the 1980s I saw Tristagma nivale in bloom, and to consider this the 
same as most "so-called" Ipheions is a great stretch.  Of course, there will 
DNA studies on these that'll prove without a shadow of doubt that they are all 
actually Compositae ;-)  (now, that's a bit of sarcasm).

>Just a quick Google search for Tristagma uniflorum 
>turned up dozens of reference sites in several 
>languages whose authors were at least aware 
>of the synonymy

Demonstrating the number of "hits" on a google search is rather meaningless, 
because you'll find just as many hits under whatever genus name you want to 
search under.  Google searches are not a measure of what taxonomic opinion is 
valid, albeit, they are interesting.

>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: 
>Liliaceae Tristagma uniflorum (Lindl.) Traub
>in Plant Life, xix. 61 (1963).
>This means that there is no more Ipheion.

Citing Traub as "definitive" carries a certain amount of risk and skepticism. 
 Traub is rather famous (notorious, or infamous is more like it) for being a 
consummate splitter (even among splitters), as well as being self-motivated to 
name as many species and taxonomic revisions to his claim as possible.  As a 
student of the genus Allium myself, I do know that Traub is responsible for 
identifying quite a number of Mexican Allium, which still stand to this day.  
But then again, I look towards consensus, and have heard sufficient consensus on 
this group within Allium to carry forward (and judging from my own experience 
growing 5 species out of 15-16 Mexican species with which to gauge)... yet 
with other groups of plants, the status is much more muddied and much more 

>This means that there is no more Ipheion.  
>All the correctly "recognized" species in this 
>genus are now Tristagma.

Ah, but that's half the trick right there.  What constitutes "all the 
correctly recognized species in this genus [Ipheion] are now Tristagma" is an 
undefined variable and therefore rather meaningless.  I'm still waiting for a 
definitive enumeration of the South American bulbous genera, which seem to freely 
float between various genera like fruit flies hovering between various types of 
rotting fruit.  One cannot be as certain as has been proposed.

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States 
antennaria@aol.com "New England" USDA Zone 5
>> web site under construction - http://www.plantbuzz.com/ <

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