help with a name
Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:03:20 PDT
On 7 Oct 2010, at 12:20, piaba wrote:

> I heard that there's a botanist that is quite prolific at describing "new"
> species of amaryllids, even when they are just variants of the same species.
> I guess he just likes to see his name published. 

That would be Ravenna, to one of whose publications David Fenwick gave a 

> I don't know this plant at all but the IPNI (International Plant Names Index)
> provides the following info. - 

> Leucothauma albicans ( Herb. ) Ravenna - Onira 11(25): 66. 2009 [1 Feb 2009]
> basionym: Pyrolirion albicans Herb. Amaryllidaceae 184.

> Pyrolirion albicans Herb. basionym of: Leucothauma albicans (Herb.) Ravenna
> Onira 11(25): 66. 2009 [1 Feb 2009]

Ravenna's work is very likely the target of Alberto Castillo's remark:

> Not only amaryllids, also other families of bulbous and non bulbous plants.
> Regrettably IPNI and Kew accept some of these unfounded changes, hence the
> artificial taxonomic chaos in South American bulbs. 

Aberto Grossi's comment:

> IPNI and Kew are obliged to accept these new (?) names? Who receive ONIRA? 
> I am unable to find it to read!

Listing a name in the IPNI does not mean it is "accepted" in the usual everyday 
sense of the word. There are two levels of acceptance of botanical names. One 
of these is strictly formal: was the name published in accordance with ICBN 
(International Code of Botanical Nomenclature)? The other is informal and 
pragmatic: is the name actually taken up and used by other botanists?   

In general, Ravenna's many publications appear to be accepted only in the 
formal sense. From remarks I've seen in various places over the years, it 
sounds like Ravenna is an inveterate "splitter", for reasons no one knows, 
founding new taxa on nearly trivial grounds such as flower color.

The journal "Onira" is noted as self-published by the IPNI. This is a strong 
indication that Onira is a vanity publication. The time may very well come when 
the International Botanical Congress will invalidate names published in such 
vanity publications, those published in Onira in particular.

While Ravenna's vanity names are currently muddying the waters of 
amaryllidaceous nomenclature, in the long term these problems, like many 
others, have a way of solving themselves.

Of course, mere obscurity is no reason to dismiss a given scholarly journal. 
Mendel's original publications were in the journal of the local natural history 
organization of Brno (Bratislava), and one of the first papers on chaos theory 
was published in "Tellus", about which one scientist later complained "Who 
reads Tellus?" (Neither of these was concerned with botanical nomenclature.)

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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