Botanical nomenclature

Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this process. The starting point for modern botanical nomenclature is Linnaeus' Species Plantarum of 1753. Botanical nomenclature is governed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), which replaces the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). Fossil plants are also covered by the code of nomenclature.

Within the limits set by that code there is another set of rules, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) which applies to plant cultivars that have been deliberately altered or selected by humans (see cultigen).

History and scope

Botanical nomenclature has a long history, going back beyond the period when Latin was the scientific language throughout Europe, to Theophrastus (c. 370–287 BC), Dioscorides (c. 40 – 90 AD) and other Greek writers. Many of these works have come down to us in Latin translations. The principal Latin writer on botany was Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD). From Mediaeval times, Latin became the universal scientific language (lingua franca) in Europe. Most written plant knowledge was the property of monks, particularly Benedictine, and the purpose of those early herbals was primarily medicinal rather than plant science per se. It would require the invention of the printing press (1450) to make such information more widely available.[1][2][3]

Leonhart Fuchs, a German physician and botanist is often considered the originator of Latin names for the rapidly increasing number of plants known to science. For instance he coined the name Digitalis in his De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes (1542).

A key event was Linnaeus’ adoption of binomial names for plant species in his Species Plantarum (1753).[4]

In the nineteenth century it became increasingly clear that there was a need for rules to govern scientific nomenclature, and initiatives were taken to refine the body of laws initiated by Linnaeus. These were published in successively more sophisticated editions. For plants, key dates are 1867 (lois de Candolle) and 1906 (International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature, 'Vienna Rules'). The most recent is the Melbourne Code, adopted in 2011.[5]

Another development was the insight into the delimitation of the concept of 'plant'. Gradually more and more groups of organisms are being recognised as being independent of plants. Nevertheless, the formal names of most of these organisms are governed by the (ICN), even today. Some protists that do not fit easily into either plant or animal categories are treated under either or both of the ICN and the ICZN. A separate Code was adopted to govern the nomenclature of Bacteria, the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria.

Relationship to taxonomy

Botanical nomenclature is closely linked to plant taxonomy, and botanical nomenclature serves plant taxonomy, but nevertheless botanical nomenclature is separate from plant taxonomy. Botanical nomenclature is merely the body of rules prescribing which name applies to that taxon (see correct name) and if a new name may (or must) be coined.

Plant taxonomy is an empirical science, a science that determines what constitutes a particular taxon (taxonomic grouping, plural: taxa): e.g. "What plants belong to this species?" and "What species belong to this genus?". The definition of the limits of a taxon is called its 'circumscription'. For a particular taxon, if two taxonomists agree exactly on its circumscription, rank and position (i.e. the higher rank in which it is included) then there is only one name which can apply under the ICN.[6] Where they differ in opinion on any of these issues, one and the same plant may be placed in taxa with different names. As an example, consider Siehe's Glory-of-the-Snow, Chionodoxa siehei:

Chionodoxa siehei closeup
Flowers of Chionodoxa siehei, which can also be called Scilla siehei, or included in Chionodoxa forbesii or in Scilla forbesii
  • Taxonomists can disagree as to whether two groups of plants are sufficiently distinct to be put into one species or not. Thus Chionodoxa siehei and Chionodoxa forbesii have been treated as a single species by some taxonomists or as two species by others.[7] If treated as one species, the earlier published name must be used,[8] so plants previously called Chionodoxa siehei become Chionodoxa forbesii.
  • Taxonomists can disagree as to whether two genera are sufficiently distinct to be kept separate or not. While agreeing that the genus Chionodoxa is closely related to the genus Scilla, nevertheless the bulb specialist Brian Mathew considers that their differences warrant maintaining separate genera.[7] Others disagree, and would refer to Chionodoxa siehei as Scilla siehei. The earliest published genus name must be used when genera are merged;[8] in this case Scilla was published earlier and is used (not Chionodoxa).
  • Taxonomists can disagree as to the limits of families. When the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) first published its classification of the flowering plants in 1998, Chionodoxa siehei would have been placed in the family Hyacinthaceae.[9] In the 2009 revision of their classification, the APG no longer recognize the Hyacinthaceae as a separate family, merging it into a greatly enlarged family Asparagaceae.[10] Thus Chionodoxa siehei moves from the Hyacinthaceae to the Asparagaceae.
  • Taxonomists can disagree as to the rank of a taxon. Rather than allow the Hyacinthaceae to disappear altogether, Chase et al. suggested that it be treated as a subfamily within the Asparagaceae.[11] The ICN requires family names to end with "-aceae" and subfamily names to end with "-oideae".[12] Thus a possible name for the Hyacinthaceae when treated as a subfamily would be 'Hyacinthoideae'. However, the name Scilloideae had already been published in 1835 as the name for a subfamily containing the genus Scilla, so this name has priority and must be used.[11] Hence for those taxonomists who accept the APG system of 2009, Chionodoxa siehei can be placed in the subfamily Scilloideae of the family Asparagaceae. However, a taxonomist is perfectly free to continue to argue that Hyacinthaceae should be maintained as a separate family from the other families which were merged into the Asparagaceae.

In summary, if a plant has different names or is placed in differently named taxa:

  • If the confusion is purely nomenclatural, i.e. it concerns what to call a taxon which has the same circumscription, rank and position, the ICN provides rules to settle the differences, typically by prescribing that the earliest published name must be used, although names can be conserved.
  • If the confusion is taxonomic, i.e. taxonomists differ in opinion on the circumscription, rank or position of taxa, then only more scientific research can settle the differences, and even then only sometimes.

See also

General

Botany

References

  1. ^ Stearn 1992.
  2. ^ Stearn 2002.
  3. ^ Pavord 2005.
  4. ^ Barkworth, M. (2004), Botanical Nomenclature (Nomenclature, Names, and Taxonomy), University of Utah, archived from the original on 2011-02-20, retrieved 2011-02-20
  5. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6.
  6. ^ McNeill et al. 2012, Principle IV
  7. ^ a b Dashwood, Melanie & Mathew, Brian (2005), Hyacinthaceae – little blue bulbs (RHS Plant Trials and Awards, Bulletin Number 11), Royal Horticultural Society, archived from the original on 20 February 2011, retrieved 19 February 2011, p. 5
  8. ^ a b McNeill et al. 2012, Principle III
  9. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (1998), "An ordinal classification for the families of flowering plants" (PDF), Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 85 (4): 531–553, doi:10.2307/2992015, retrieved 2011-02-19
  10. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III (2009), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 105–121, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x
  11. ^ a b Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
  12. ^ McNeill et al. 2012, Article 19.1

Bibliography

Basionym

In the scientific name of organisms, basionym or basyonym means the original name on which a new name is based; the author citation of the new name should include the authors of the basionym in parentheses. The term original combination or protonym is used in the same way in zoology. Bacteriology uses a similar term, basonym, spelled without an i.

Botanical name

A botanical name is a formal scientific name conforming to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and, if it concerns a plant cultigen, the additional cultivar or Group epithets must conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The code of nomenclature covers "all organisms traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants, whether fossil or non-fossil, including blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), chytrids, oomycetes, slime moulds and photosynthetic protists with their taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups (but excluding Microsporidia)."The purpose of a formal name is to have a single name that is accepted and used worldwide for a particular plant or plant group. For example, the botanical name Bellis perennis denotes a plant species which is native to most of the countries of Europe and the Middle East, where it has accumulated various names in many languages. Later, the plant was introduced worldwide, bringing it into contact with more languages. English names for this plant species include: daisy, English daisy, and lawn daisy. The cultivar Bellis perennis 'Aucubifolia' is a golden-variegated horticultural selection of this species.

Class (biology)

In biological classification, class (Latin: classis) is a taxonomic rank, as well as a taxonomic unit, a taxon, in that rank. Other well-known ranks in descending order of size are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, order, family, genus, and species, with class fitting between phylum and order.

Flora

Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animal life is fauna. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms gut flora or skin flora.

Herbaceous plant

Herbaceous plants in botany, frequently shortened to herbs, are vascular plants that have no persistent woody stems above ground. Herb has other meanings in cooking, medicine, and other fields. Herbaceous plants are those plants that do not have woody stems, they include many perennials,

and nearly all annuals and biennials, they include both forbs and graminoids.

Herbaceous plants most often are low growing plants, relative to woody plants like trees, and tend to have soft green stems that lack lignification and their above-ground growth is ephemeral and often seasonal in duration.

International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical names that are given to plants, fungi and a few other groups of organisms, all those "traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants". It was formerly called the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN); the name was changed at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne in July 2011 as part of the Melbourne Code which replaced the Vienna Code of 2005.

The current version of the code is the Shenzhen Code adopted by the International Botanical Congress held in Shenzhen, China, in July 2017. As with previous codes, it took effect as soon as it was ratified by the congress (on 29 July 2017), but the documentation of the code in its final form was not published until 26 June 2018.

The name of the Code is partly capitalized and partly not. The lower-case for "algae, fungi, and plants" indicates that these terms are not formal names of clades, but indicate groups of organisms that were historically known by these names and traditionally studied by phycologists, mycologists, and botanists. This includes blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria); fungi, including chytrids, oomycetes, and slime moulds; photosynthetic protists and taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups. There are special provisions in the ICN for some of these groups, as there are for fossils.

The ICN can only be changed by an International Botanical Congress (IBC), with the International Association for Plant Taxonomy providing the supporting infrastructure. Each new edition supersedes the earlier editions and is retroactive back to 1753, except where different starting dates are specified.For the naming of cultivated plants there is a separate code, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, which gives rules and recommendations that supplement the ICN.

International Plant Names Index

The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) describes itself as "a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and lycophytes." Coverage of plant names is best at the rank of species and genus. It includes basic bibliographical details associated with the names. Its goals include eliminating the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names.The IPNI also maintains a list of standardized author abbreviations. These were initially based on Brummitt & Powell (1992), but new names and abbreviations are continually added.

Nomen nudum

In taxonomy (especially in zoological and botanical nomenclature), a nomen nudum ("naked name"; plural nomina nuda) is a designation which looks exactly like a scientific name of an organism, and may have originally been intended to be a scientific name, but fails to be one because it has not (or has not yet) been published with an adequate description (or a reference to such a description). This makes it a "bare" or "naked" name, one which cannot be accepted as it stands. A largely equivalent but much less frequently used term is nomen tantum ("name only").

Plants of the World Online

Plants of the World Online is an online database published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was launched in March 2017 with the ultimate aim being "to enable users to access information on all the world's known seed-bearing plants by 2020". The initial focus was on tropical African Floras, particularly Flora Zambesiaca, Flora of West Tropical Africa and Flora of Tropical East Africa.

Section (biology)

In biology a section (Latin: Sectio) is a taxonomic rank that is applied differently between botany and zoology.

Section (botany)

In botany, a section (Latin: sectio) is a taxonomic rank below the genus, but above the species. The subgenus, if present, is higher than the section, and the rank of series, if present, is below the section. Sections may in turn be divided into subsections.Sections are typically used to help organise very large genera, which may have hundreds of species. A botanist wanting to distinguish groups of species may prefer to create a taxon at the rank of section or series to avoid making new combinations, i.e. many new binomial names for the species involved.Examples:

Lilium section Martagon Rchb. are the Turks' cap lilies

Plagiochila aerea Taylor is the type species of Plagiochila sect. Bursatae

Subgenus

In biology, a subgenus (plural: subgenera) is a taxonomic rank directly below genus.

In the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, a subgeneric name can be used independently or included in a species name, in parentheses, placed between the generic name and the specific epithet: e.g. the tiger cowry of the Indo-Pacific, Cypraea (Cypraea) tigris Linnaeus, which belongs to the subgenus Cypraea of the genus Cypraea. However, it is not mandatory, or even customary, when giving the name of a species, to include the subgeneric name.

In the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp), the subgenus is one of the possible subdivisions of a genus. There is no limit to the number of divisions that are permitted within a genus by adding the prefix "sub-" or in other ways as long as no confusion can result. The secondary ranks of section and series are subordinate to subgenus. An example is Banksia subg. Isostylis, a subgenus of the large Australian genus Banksia. The ICNafp requires an explicit "connecting term" to indicate the rank of the division within the genus. Connecting terms are usually abbreviated, e.g. "subg." for "subgenus", and are not italicized.

In zoological nomenclature, when a genus is split into subgenus, the originally described population is retained as the "nominotypical subgenus" or "nominate subgenus", which repeats the same name as the genus. For example, Panthera (Panthera) pardus, a leopard. In botanical nomenclature, the same principle applies, although the terminology is different. Thus the subgenus that contains the original type of the genus Rhododendron is Rhododendron subg. Rhododendron. Such names are called "autonyms".

The Plant List

The Plant List was a list of botanical names of species of plants created by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden and launched in 2010. It was intended to be a comprehensive record of all known names of plant species over time, and was produced in response to Target 1 of the 2002-2010 Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSP C), to produce "An online flora of all known plants.” It has not been updated since 2013, and is superseded by World Flora Online.

Tribe (biology)

In biology, a tribe is a taxonomic rank above genus, but below family and subfamily. It is sometimes subdivided into subtribes. By convention, all taxonomic ranks above genus are capitalized, including both tribe and subtribe.

In zoology, the standard ending for the name of a zoological tribe is "-ini". Examples include the tribes Caprini (goat-antelopes), Hominini (hominins), Bombini (bumblebees), and Thunnini (tunas). The tribe Hominini is divided into subtribes by some scientists; subtribe Hominina then comprises "humans". The standard ending for the name of a zoological subtribe is "-ina".

In botany, the standard ending for the name of a botanical tribe is "-eae". Examples include the tribes Acalypheae and Hyacintheae. The tribe Hyacintheae is divided into subtribes, including the subtribe Massoniinae. The standard ending for the name of a botanical subtribe is "-inae".

In bacteriology, the form of tribe names is as in botany, e.g., Pseudomonadeae, based on the genus name Pseudomonas.

Type genus

In biological classification, especially zoology, the type genus is the genus which defines a biological family and the root of the family name.

Type species

In zoological nomenclature, a type species (species typica) is the species name with which the name of a genus or subgenus is considered to be permanently taxonomically associated, i.e., the species that contains the biological type specimen(s). A similar concept is used for suprageneric groups called a type genus.

In botanical nomenclature, these terms have no formal standing under the code of nomenclature, but are sometimes borrowed from zoological nomenclature. In botany, the type of a genus name is a specimen (or, rarely, an illustration) which is also the type of a species name. The species name that has that type can also be referred to as the type of the genus name. Names of genus and family ranks, the various subdivisions of those ranks, and some higher-rank names based on genus names, have such types.In bacteriology, a type species is assigned for each genus.Every named genus or subgenus in zoology, whether or not currently recognized as valid, is theoretically associated with a type species. In practice, however, there is a backlog of untypified names defined in older publications when it was not required to specify a type.

Variety (botany)

In botanical nomenclature, variety (abbreviated var.; in Latin: varietas) is a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies, but above that of form. As such, it gets a three-part infraspecific name. It is sometimes recommended that the subspecies rank should be used to recognize geographic distinctiveness, whereas the variety rank is appropriate if the taxon is seen throughout the geographic range of the species.

Wikispecies

Wikispecies is a wiki-based online project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aim is to create a comprehensive free content catalogue of all species; the project is directed at scientists, rather than at the general public. Jimmy Wales stated that editors are not required to fax in their degrees, but that submissions will have to pass muster with a technical audience. Wikispecies is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and CC BY-SA 3.0.

Started in September 2004, with biologists across the world invited to contribute, the project had grown a framework encompassing the Linnaean taxonomy with links to Wikipedia articles on individual species by April 2005.

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families

The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (usually abbreviated to WCSP) is an "international collaborative programme that provides the latest peer reviewed and published opinions on the accepted scientific names and synonyms of selected plant families." Maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, it is available online, allowing searches for the names of families, genera and species, as well as the ability to create checklists.

The project traces its history to work done in the 1990s by Kew researcher Rafaël Govaerts on a checklist of the genus Quercus. Influenced by the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, the project expanded. As of January 2013, 173 families of seed plants were included. Coverage of monocotyledon families is complete; other families are being added.There is a complementary project called the International Plant Names Index (IPNI), in which Kew is also involved. The IPNI aims to provide details of publication and does not aim to determine which are accepted species names. After a delay of about a year, newly published names are automatically added from the IPNI to the WCSP. The WCSP is also one of the underlying databases for The Plant List, created by Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden, which was unveiled in 2010.

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