Arum - naming a Group

John Grimshaw
Mon, 09 Apr 2007 00:48:39 PDT
Dylan Hannon wrote:

>I think it is worth pointing out here that any of us is free to accept
> or reject any validly published name for any given plant. If one
> prefers to use Amaryllis over Hippeastrum, for whatever reasons, it is
> not technically "wrong". The same goes for recognizing the Liliaceae
> in its old, broad sense versus the modern partitioning of this family
> into a dozen or more "new" families [some of them are very old family
> concepts!]. Some formal changes, as carried by the scientific
> journals, are accepted by the botanical community while others are
> not. The difficulty is that picking and choosing among the various
> classifications can require as much energy or more than growing the
> plants themselves.

This subject has been frequently discussed here. While it is indeed true 
that one can pick and choose one's own taxonomy, I always think that if one 
feels confident enough to override a technical expert in the field who has 
invested a great deal of time and resources into reaching a conclusion, then 
one must be able to put forward on equal terms a convincing argument why 
such and such a taxonomic viewpoint should be rejected. It is not sufficient 
to say 'I don't like it' - that is the way of the Luddites.

The vexed question of Amaryllis versus Hippeastrum is an unfortunate case to 
use in this instance, since here it IS wrong to say that Amaryllis can be 
used for Hippeastrum, as the question has been settled by decision of the 
International Botanical Congress in favour of Amaryllis being restricted to 
the South African species. Whether or not this was the right decision is 
immaterial: if the codes of taxonomy are to be ignored at random then chaos 
can be the only result.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

Easter Monday 9 April, Arboretum Weekend 15-16 September
Gates open 1pm, last entry 4 pm

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