naming of plants

Travis O
Wed, 06 Jan 2016 21:21:11 PST
Robin, Nhu, Jane you all bring up excellent points that I hadn't considered! Very enlightening. 

However, like any technical field, there is "good" work and there is not so good work. In my opinion, taxonomists should combine techniques to assess the validity of a new taxon. The combination of old school techniques (based on looks, morphology) and new school DNA analysis is the way it should be done, in my opinion. For example, taxonomist Hasan Yildirim is doing it right [1]. It kills me softly when two species that look nothing alike and grow in distinctly different regions are lumped together, apparently "justified" by a single mysterious DNA marker, sometimes not even separated as subspecies or varieties. As Robin points out, genome studies seem to have hijacked the steering wheel. Hopefully it's just a trend, and the future holds more collaborative techniques.

But don't get me wrong, I love taxonomy, learning the names (and synonyms), families, and other taxonomic relationships of plants. As an amateur [botanist], it's fun to look for morphological clues that back up taxonomic restructuralization of families such as the Asparagaceae, which currently include former members of the Hyacinthaceae and Agavaceae. A recent example, the new shoots of both Camassia and Hyacinthoides are similar to asparagus (I have photos somewhere to illustrate this) with suspiciously similar looking bracteoles. Alone, this observation would mean almost nothing, but with modern genomic research backing it up, an observation like this has some weight. Fun!


Travis Owen
Rogue River, OR

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