Plant Names, was Schizobasis intricata

Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 08:00:59 PDT
When I first started working on the wiki I didn't 
know very much about how plants get their names. 
I know a lot more now, but I'm sure there are 
members of this list who know a lot more than I 
do. It has been very challenging to decide what 
name to use on the wiki. I used to believe that 
botanical names were the way that people could 
know that they are all talking about the same 
thing, but I no longer think that is true. And if 
the Internet makes it easier to publish new 
species that could make it even harder. As a 
number of people on this list have noted over the 
years, if you include the name of the person who 
published that name after the botanical name you 
are technically correct even if no one uses that name any more.

Someone suggested that we use IPNI
and for awhile we did until we understood that it 
is a listing of published names of plants and not 
necessarily the ones that people are using at the 
moment. If you put in Schizobasis intricata you 
will find that it is a published name.

Kew had a monocot checklist and for awhile we 
used that to verify names since the majority of 
wiki species were monocots. This list has 
gradually added other families besides monocots, 
but I'm not sure if all of the wiki families are included.
I still like to use it some times as it offers 
helpful information. If you used it to search for 
Schizobasis intricata you would learn that it is 
in the family Asparagaceae  and was first 
published by Baker  by that name in 1874. In 1872 
he first published this plant under the name 
Anthericum intricatum. In 2000 Manning and 
Goldblatt published a new name for this species, 
Drimia intricata. If you click on that name you 
will learn that it is distributed from Ethiopia, 
Tanzania to S. Africa  and is a bulb geophyte and 
is an accepted name (but it doesn't tell you by 
whom.) There is a link to other sources that may 
or may not have further information.

I used to also look at Tropicos, the Missouri 
Botanical Garden's database of plant names.
It describes itself this way:
Tropicos® was originally created for internal 
research but has since been made available to the 
world’s scientific community. All of the 
nomenclatural, bibliographic, and specimen data 
accumulated in MBG’s electronic databases during 
the past 25 years are publicly available here. 
This system has over 1.2 million scientific names 
and 4.0 million specimen records.  If you search 
in it you will find both Drimia intricata and 
Schizobasis intricata so they have it covered either way.

Sometimes Kew and Tropicos agreed so we felt 
somewhat safe in using a name listed in both. But 
then the Plant List was suggested as a resource.
It describes itself as a working list of all 
known plant species. It aims to be comprehensive 
for species of Vascular plant (flowering plants, 
conifers, ferns and their allies) and of 
Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). Collaboration 
between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and 
Missouri Botanical Garden enabled the creation of 
The Plant List by combining multiple checklist 
data sets held by these institutions and other 
collaborators. So using it meant we didn't have 
to check both of the above.  It lists 1,064,035 
scientific plant names of species rank. Of these 
350,699 are accepted species name. The others are 
either synonyms or unresolved.  So only a third 
of those names are "accepted".  And they note it 
is a work in progress and not perfect. If you 
check Schizobasis intricata in the Plant List you 
will find that it is the accepted name (3 stars 
confidence) and Drimia intricata is a synonym.

Another resource to use for South African plants is the SANBI check list.
I like to look at it as it seems reasonable to me 
that local botanists are likely to be current on 
their plants (but that may depend on whether 
someone has transferred their data to the 
internet.) But even if the information is current 
it doesn't mean that everyone around the world is 
going to agree and accept their findings. Looking 
up Schizobasis intricata here you will find that 
it is in the Hyacinthaceae family and is a 
synonym for Drimia intricata and is Perennial. 
Climber, geophyte. Ht 0.05-0.69m. Alt 250-5540m.

So what do we call it if someone is kind enough 
to send photos to the wiki? Toss a coin? Either of these would be correct:
Schizobasis intricata (Baker) Baker
Drimia intricata (Baker) J.C.Manning & Goldblatt

If you are still with me and I'm sure I've lost 
some folks by now, it is possible that someone 
will decide to take on this plant and do a more 
historical search and find that someone else was 
first in naming this plant and therefore the name 
should be changed even if it has been used for a 
very long time under a different name and all the 
resource books would now be out of date under 
that name.  Or perhaps there was a spelling 
mistake that now needs to be corrected. It makes 
it so hard for any resource to keep up to date 
with what to call a plant. And as we found with 
Albuca into Ornithogalum back to Albuca, even the 
experts can change their minds. Anyone for common names?

Mary Sue

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