Arum - naming a Group

Graham Rice
Mon, 09 Apr 2007 07:14:20 PDT
This is why the work of the RHS Advisory Panel on Nomenclature and 
Taxonomy (APONAT), whose advice informs the use of names in The RHS 
PlantFinder, is so valuable. Not everyone agrees with their 
judgements but it seems to me that the existence of a freely 
available publication (and I mean free - standardising 
the names of plants in horticulture the world over is invaluable.

What's more the minutes of the meetings of APONAT are now available 
for all to read online here:…. 
And they welcome comments and information about individual issues.

Graham Rice
Milford, PA

>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.
>As most growers have deduced, taxonomy has its trends and periods
>where certain approaches or styles are favored, only to be supplanted
>by others in later years or generations. Laypersons are often
>confounded by the trappings of botanical classification and it is well
>to keep in mind that there are, as might be expected,  subjective
>elements at work. In other words, methodologies may be rigorous and
>even 'empirical' but decisions on where to draw lines between what we
>call genera and species are a personal decision at some level, even
>for the scientist. Today the classification scheme itself- important
>as it is to us-  is almost an afterthought while sorting the mysteries
>of phylogeny takes center stage.  A further example is the recent
>'splitting out' of quite a few new genera from Eurasian Scilla,
>Muscari, etc. Whether these names are new or resurrected and dusty,
>the pattern of progressive understanding of phylogeny and the renaming
>of these groups remains the same.
>I wholeheartedly agree with John about variation in species being
>often underappreciated or unrealized and would go one further in
>suggesting that such variation is one of the most appealing levels of
>horticultural endeavor. We are fortunate that some dealers purvey
>various species from multiple localities, e.g. Mike Salmon (Colchicum,
>Narcissus, etc.) and Summerfield's (mainly South African
>Hyacinthaceae). A look at Graham Duncan's Lachenalia book confirms
>this idea-- just look at L. trichophylla and L. mutabilis! Not all
>novel forms of known varieties are "garden improvements" and in fact
>many cultivars are clones of direct wild origin.
>The Groups concept as described here is new to me and I wanted to add
>that it should not be confused with similar concepts commonly met with
>in the botanical literature and good plant books. They are often
>termed "alliances" or "complexes" or even "groups" and refer to
>natural groupings of genera or species with distinctive similarities.
>Sometimes they reflect formal taxa or categories (subfamilies,
>subgenera), or they may be informal and used as points of discussion.
>On 4/8/07, John Grimshaw <> wrote:
>>  Nobody is disbarred from naming any botanical/horticultural entity so long
>>  as the correct procedure is followed. So far as I'm aware (Graham Rice will
>>  correct if I'm wrong) the procedure to publish a group name requires its
>>  publication with a description of the characters it covers, preferably as
>>  comprehensively as possible. An example of this is the publication of the
>  > Galanthus nivalis Sandersii Group in our book 'Snowdrops', p.90-93, which I
>>  know Diane can look up, where the yellow variants of Galanthus nivalis are
>>  comprehensively discussed and the covering Group name instituted.
>>  John Grimshaw
>>  Dr John M. Grimshaw
>>  Sycamore Cottage
>>  Colesbourne
>>  Nr Cheltenham
>>  Gloucestershire GL53 9NP
>>  Tel. 01242 870567
>>  Easter Monday 9 April, Arboretum Weekend 15-16 September
>>  Gates open 1pm, last entry 4 pm
>>  website:
>>  ----- Original Message -----
>>  From: "Diane Whitehead" <>
>>  To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
>>  Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 5:19 PM
>>  Subject: Re: [pbs] Arum - naming a Group
>>  >  John Grimshaw described three instances where a Group name is used
>>  > for plants.
>>  >
>>  > Who decides that a Group name is appropriate?  In the case of a genus
>>  > with a regulating body, must it be done officially?  Could a nursery
>>  > owner or an enthusiastic amateur decide to name one?
>>  >
>>  >
>>  > Diane Whitehead
>>  >
>>  >
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>>  >
>>  >
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