etymology of generic and specific names

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by bjo, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. bjo

    bjo Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi,

    I am being slightly lazy - asking the forum rather than doing my own research!

    When an new species is named or a new genus established, the author(s) often give the etymology of the name. However, it does not seem to be the rule that the etymology must be explained - am I correct in this? Is this covered by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature? The origin / meaning of some names seems to be obscure even to experts like the late WT Stearn. A sentence or two of explanation from the author would help!!

    BTW two names I have come across recently and enjoyed....

    A diatom : Pinnularia turnerae...named for the rock singer Tina Turner (2000)

    and

    Brevoortia ida-maia...named after Ida May Burke, daughter of the stage coach driver who brought the plant to the American botanist Alphonso Wood (1867)

    Ciao
    Brian
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    It doesn't appear that the second binomial has to be explained.... Certainly, I sometimes wish it would, but there doesn't seem to be any rule or anything.

    One of my personal faves is
    Strigiphilus garylarsoni, a parasitic louse found on owls, named after cartoonist Gary Larson (of Far Side fame)

    And as soon as I can establish that it is indeed a separate species, I'll be naming a Anthurium after my grandfather, however I fully intend to explain exactly why in the published article, whether it's required or not.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    There's never been any requirement to give the etymology of name choices, often it has later (after the death of the describing author) become much-debated guesswork.

    There are some examples of unusual etymologies that are known though; e.g. Scilla peruviana (a species native to Iberia) is not named after the country Peru, but after the ship S.S. Peru on board which the herbarium specimens sent to Linnaeus were delivered.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    There are also a host of "periuviana"s and "peruana"s that are actually native or endemic to Ecuador, so named because at the time the country was part of the viceroyalty of Lima.
     
  5. pierrot

    pierrot Active Member 10 Years

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  6. bjo

    bjo Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi,

    thanks for the replies.

    Pierrot: I could not find an exact answer in the pages of the book that I could access via google books - but thanks for the link. I had forgotten about Gledhill´s book - it was on my wish list -but seemed to have dropped off the end!

    Lorax and Michael: Lorax's example of plants from Ecuador named 'peruviana', and Michael´s 'peruviana' are excellent examples of why I think the etymology / reason for the name should be required.

    Rather off-topic (and perhaps not allowed anymore!), I attach a photo of Scilla vicentina (etymology, endemic to the area around Cabo São Vicente, the SW corner of Europe) flowering like mad at the moment. i think it will be another few weeks before we see S. peruviana in flower as it has been rather cold and grey this Spring.

    Thanks,
    Brian


    PS I imagine Gary Larson would enjoy having a louse named after him rather more than the owls enjoy the beast itself!
     

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  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    He was apparently quite flattered, according to his memoires...
     
  8. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    There's a book called "Gardener's Latin", by Bill Neal, published by Robert Hale, which is helpful, although perhaps not as anecdotal as one might like, as in S.S. Peru. My husband, whose Latin is sound, says the Latin is sound.
     

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