Dichelostemma--TOW and taxonomy

John Lonsdale john@johnlonsdale.net
Thu, 29 May 2003 07:28:50 PDT
Mary Sue et al.,

<<  Are Alberto, Jane, Lauw, Diana, and I the only ones growing this genus?
(And Doug Westfall who has a picture on the wiki). Anyone else willing to
share your experiences?>>

I do grow a few Dichelostemma species, but many are still as maturing
seedlings.  I will comment, though, on the hardiness of D. ida-maia, and the
putative hybrid 'Pink Diamond'.  Both of these have been in the ground here
for three years and I was somewhat surprised to see they have come through
our past very long and cold winter completely unscathed.  Both are building
up nicely and flower very reliably.  They are situated on our well drained
south facing slope and planted at the base of daphne genkwa shrubs, through
which they grow to good effect.

I followed with interest the recent thread on the taxonomy of these plants,
and their relatives.  I remember Mark was rather upset when I used
Themidaceae on my website as a home for images of Brodiaea, Dichelostemma
and Triteleia.  I also sense the wind was rather taken from his sails when
Alan Meerow commented that the justification for this segregation was
largely on the basis of nucleic acid studies, rather than more traditional
morphological and tangible characteristics.  It is very unfair of
taxonomists to use characters such as DNA comparisons, to classify plants !
I guess we have arrived at the stage whereby plants that 'look' incredibly
similar are put into different major taxa based upon differences in nucleic
acid sequences etc.  This should not be a problem in practice as long as
there remain clearly differentiating morphological characteristics which
allow taxa to be unequivocally identified in the field.  A 'correct'
classification has to lead to a working identification scheme else it is
useless in practice.  The current trend may be academically stimulating and
more correct using current thinking, but seems to be leading to a dichotomy
between characteristics used for classification and identification.

Anyone wishing to see a copy of my thesis entitled 'Aspects of the Biology
of Acidophilic Actinomycetes' should contact their local library.  This
contains a detailed numerical taxonomic characterization of this group of
interesting bacteria - which is probably hopelessly outdated now !


Dr John T Lonsdale
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

Home:  610 594 9232
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Fax:     801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at http://www.edgewoodgardens.net/

Zone 6b

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