L. maximowiczii syn with variety tigrinum

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Wed, 07 Oct 2009 15:40:48 PDT
Ian, where in the world are you getting your information about Lilium


You seem to have nomenclature and systematics thoroughly confused. The
lilies originally named Lilium leichtlinii (a lily with yellow flowers) and
Lilium maximowiczii (a lily with orange flowers) have long been known to be
conspecific.  That is to say, both are forms of the same species. 


The first published name for members of this species is Lilium leichtlinii.
That that is the name of the yellow-flowered form (a tiny minority of wild
plants) is irrelevant. As the first published name for any member of the
species, it becomes the specific epithet of all  members of  the species. 


It’s a case of the nomenclatural tail wagging the dog, to be sure. That the
orange-flowered form is in fact the usual form of the species, the most
numerous form of the species, is irrelevant for nomenclatural purposes. 


If you ask a dealer to send you Lilium leichtlinii, and he sends you the
orange-flowered form rather than the yellow-flowered form you are expecting,
you have only yourself to blame: the orange-flowered form and the
yellow-flowered form are equally Lilium leichtlinii. 


Gardeners will probably continue to distinguish these lilies with Latinized
botanical names at the species or varietas rank; however, given the trend
among modern botanists, there is reason to question whether the
yellow-flowered form deserves a unique botanical name at all. The whole
point of modern taxonomy is to identify and name sexually reproducing
populations. There really isn’t a sound philosophical basis for the
recognition of mutations in the formal hierarchy of names. That in fact is
the biggest difference between formal botany and the naming of plants for
horticultural purposes: gardeners want to pigeon hole everything,  and our
everything is largely made up of freaks, mutations, hybrids – phenomena
which do not really have much to do with the modern concepts of species. 


Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

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