Dear All: When, in the early nineteenth century, the handsome Magnolia now widely known as soulangiana appeared, it was described as a hybrid between Magnolia denudata and M. liliiflora. Magnolia xsoulangeana proved to be very fertile, and soon there were lots of little xsoulangeanas in gardens everywhere. It surprises me that in the century and a half since, so few people have questioned the significance of what really happened. In the early nineteenth century, M. denudata and M. liliiflora were part of the received canon. Because they are readily distinguished (but then, so are wolfhounds and chihuahuas), no one called into question their status as distinct species. Some of us would say that the vigor and fertility of M. xsoulangeana is all the proof anyone needs to assert that M. denudata and M. liliiflora are in fact the same species. In a post to this list months ago, it was mentioned that there are orchid hybrids the ancestry of which involves plants from eight different genera. Some of us would say that that suggests that those eight purported genera are actually just one very polymorphic species. What better proof of relationship and similarity can there be than the ability to produce viable, fertile progeny? People are too much hungup on what things look like. And that hangup seems to apply not only to those looking at gross morphology, but also to those looking at chromosomes, dna or the results of the latest and greatest technological innovations. I wish that those about to name genera and species - notho or otherwise - would keep these things in mind. Once a name is validly published, it becomes a part of our cultural virus load: it will always be there, weighing us down, and there is no way to get rid of it. Jim McKenney email@example.com Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where luckily there are no viable, fertile progeny to distract me from my present interests.