Jane McGary <email@example.com> wrote: ==================================== There are some likely reasons for the use of unfamiliar synonyms for plants collected and/or grown by people in the former Soviet Union (and China): (a) They are deriving the names from their authorities, which are often floras and journals that were "out of the loop" of the system of publication and peer review in the West. (b) They did not have the opportunity to travel and compare their material with specimens from other areas and have difficulty evaluating whether it is really different enough to warrant species status. (c) They are aware that Western plant enthusiasts will pay good money to take a chance on "new to cultivation" species, and so they deliberately use unfamiliar synonyms to entice seed buyers to purchase species they would otherwise ignore. ==================================== Might there be some other reasons, perhaps a trifle less cynical. Europe experienced much the same botanical synonymy problems and taxonomic evolution as did North America. Taking for example, the genus Allium, I see just as much synonymy in the European onions (including Russia) as I do the North American onions, perhaps even more so. Many names were described in the latter 1800s and early 1900s, without benefit of quick communication, often the taxonomy limited to floristic studies by state in the USA, or by country in Europe, and not studied holistically over large geographical areas. I find it amusing that most European floras, when discussing Allium species distribution, simply ignore North Africa, even on the common Mediterranean species, when many species do exist there. But back to Nectaroscordum, there are only a handful of names that were ever described... I highly doubt this is a case of a trumped up name for the sake of plant sales. The species was collected by a highly respected name in geophyte taxonomy, not a nurseryman, so I have to believe the name was retained for a reason; if nothing else to align the collection with the type. Regarding the suggestion that botanists in the Soviet Union and China are... "out of the loop of the system of publication and peer review in the West"; well... at least with the genus Allium that I have studied, there's about the same level of synonymy, or even less synonymy in play in those regions, than in Europe. Looking at the Flora of China, with the Alliaceae published, there's no over abundance of species, but it seems a reasonable number of species, the majority of which are indeed endemic to the vast land area that is China. I've observed in writing a number of times... little quips that mock the long russian species names as if they can't possibly be. Yet we drool and lust over every impossibly romantic south american alpine species name without question, with epithets equally as unpronounceable and seemingly as prolific as the long Russian names; there's an obvious bias here. The same used to be true of English writing about American plants. My favorite line from Sampson Clay's "The Present Day Rock Garden" is within a passage describing about 20 western American species in which he admonishes "There is obviously a redundancy of 'species' here", neatly illustrating a bias whereby American taxonomy was mocked unless sanctioned by British taxonomists. No, I prefer to keep the possibility open. I remember a taxonomist at the USNA (US National Arboretum) giving me a plant of Allium "komarovianum". This name has long since been put in synonymy with the well-known, autumn-flowering Allium thunbergii. But he urged me to review this plant to see what I thought. And indeed, it has very similar, almost identical purple balls of bloom in October, with yellow or orange protruding anthers, indeed looking just like thunbergii... but the leaves and rootstalks are completely different. Allium thunbergii has keeled leaves, moderately to strongly trigonous and fistular, and dark green in color. This floral look-alike plant on the other hand, has very broad, absolutely flat shiny light green leaves. In foliage, you'd never guess that the two species could be remotely related! There's much more that I could say about the taxonomic mess so misrepresented by today's thunbergii-virgunculae delineations... the whole group is in obvious need of study. It should be noted, that after a hundred years of Allium blandum being placed in synonymy with the Himalayan A. carolinianum (not from North America in the Carolinas as the name indicates, another famous gaff), that the latest Flora of China resurrects A. blandum as validly separated from A. carolinianum. Sometimes there's reason to hang on to those old names, particularly when dealing with extremely diverse, polymorphic groups of plants. So yes... maybe Nectaroscordum meliophilum... I'll inquire why it's been so identified. Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States firstname.lastname@example.org "New England" USDA Zone 5 ============================================== >> web site under construction - http://www.plantbuzz.com/ << alliums, bulbs, penstemons, hardy hibiscus, western american alpines, iris, plants of all types!