Cabin fever antidote

Jim McKenney
Fri, 23 Jan 2004 16:54:23 PST
Jim, you're no fun. By and large I think I agree with you. 

At 06:51 PM 1/23/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>Jim McK.,
>Good idea!  The weather here is definitely not conducive to outdoor 
>activities -- too cold and too windy.  Sorry, Diane.  Back to the keyboard.
>1.  A Geophyte is whatever we define it to be.  I define the concept very 
>broadly:  A plant having some sort of subterranean storage organ and an 
>herbaceous, perennial habit.  Since I'm not a taxonomist, you can take my 
>"definition" with a grain of salt.  (I've noticed that some real 
>taxonomists in the past have used conflicting concepts as invitations to
>I think the usual definition, limiting "geophytes" to bulbs, corms, tubers, 
>or rhizomes, is a bit narrow.  Jim Waddick's Paeonia, some of Mary Sue's 
>Delphinium, lots of things with "fat" roots, surely ought to be 
>included.  I like to say something like, "geophytes and friends" for 
>suitable discussion topics.  The term "geophyte" is, after all, not a 
>phylogenetic classification but a pragmatic one.
>2.  Species are human conceptual constructs too, by and large.  Those 
>obvious species, easily perceived, are not the problems of course.
>For a lot of biologists, I suspect the true but unspoken definition is 
>something like "I can't actually define species, but I know one when I see 
>one."  There are a few, like Pierre Felice Ravenna, who see new species 
>wherever they look.  There may be matters of ego gratification involved, or 
>more serious motivations like getting tenure or a promotion.  All sorts of 
>things can help define "species."
>The definition that goes something like "a species is an interbreeding 
>population" bothers most people, who seem to read into it the word 
>"potentially"; i.e., "a species is a [potentially] interbreeding 
>population" which confuses the devil out of things where plants are 
>concerned.  The orchids present an obvious case in point, with myriads of 
>complex, multiply (adverb of "multiple") intergeneric hybrids made in 
>cultivation.  Remember:  where species are concerned, cultivation does not 
>count!  I like the approach that starts with a species as an identifiable 
>group of individuals, sharing certain traits in common.  You can elaborate 
>from there.
>This also opens up the notion of reticulated evolution, or interspecific, 
>possibly intergeneric, even inter-kingdom transfers of genetic 
>material.  For instance, the human genome is full of relict viruses.  How 
>do you want to handle that?  This just shows how far Mother Nature will go 
>to frustrate human attempts to organize things into neat pigeonholes.
>Jim Shields (a.k.a. Jim S; i.e., not Jim W and not Jim McK)
>in central Indiana (USA)
>At 05:00 PM 1/23/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>>I'm bored! Let's get some good fights going here! Let's start some threads
>>on 1) the definition of geophyte and 2) species concept.
>>To start, I'll stick my neck out and offer these (perhaps outrageous)
>>1) with respect to geophytes, not all bulbs are geophytes
>>2) with respect to species concept, living things don't exist as species,
>>they just exist
>>Fire up your blazing keyboards!
>>Jim McKenney
>Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
>P.O. Box 92              WWW:
>Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
>Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA
>pbs mailing list

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