White Onion

Mark McDonough antennaria@charter.net
Fri, 25 Feb 2011 21:28:05 PST
Jim McKenney <jamesamckenney@verizon.net> wrote:
> Mark, the long list of citations you gave only proves my point: those 
> who make cowanii a synonym of Allium neapolitanum miss the point.

Interesting logic.  Actually, my list of citations responds to the 
erroneous assertion that "taxonomists cannot make up their mind about 
its proper rank or name", when taxonomists have indeed made up their 
minds decades ago that Allium "cowanii" was an early case of mistaken 
identity made almost 2 centuries ago, that the entity does fall within 
the variability encompassed by Allium neapolitanum, thus merely a 
synonym of A. neapolitanum.

Lauw, if you are reading this, here is my challenge. Do the right thing, 
set a trend, be a dare-doing maverick, and dare to change your offering 
of Allium "cowanii" (sic) to a cultivar of Allium neapolitanum... choose 
a name, like 'Cowan's Purity' or some such name, and sell the bulbs as 
Allium neapolitanum 'Cowan's Purity' (previously A. cowanii), and state 
the name change.  You'll be the first, and you'll be a trend-setter. 
It took about 50 years or more in the Dutch bulb industry to change the 
name of bulbs sold as A. aflatunense (which they were not) to the 
recently established name of Allium hollandicum, in this case because 
the original source of the misnamed A. aflatunense was not known thus a 
new name was devised to represent the plant long established in 
cultivation.  Be the champion of the "cowanii" correction!

Now, this case is not alone, there are many such mistakes and blunders 
made in the earlier days of taxonomy.  There is another Allium one; 
shudder... Allium "murrayanum", yet another case where a very old name 
that is long since invalid (a synonym of Allium unifolium) perseveres at 
full strength today, with many nurseries offering the phantom A. 
"murrayanum"   (Allium murrayanum Regel -- Gartenflora (1873) = A. 
unifolium).  Here we go again!

PS:  I am putting together a topic on NARGS Forum on Allium 
misidentifications, A. "cowanii" with side-by-side comparison of photos 
with A. neapolitanum will be featured as the first entry.  Link 

Mark McDonough
Alpine-L list-owner
Massachusetts, USA
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