Too many names to choose from

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by Chungii V, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Chungii V

    Chungii V Active Member

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    Hi all,
    I have been getting together information on a vast range of plants for our region. Due to having more spare time than usual I have been able to put a lot more into doing so. I am considering putting all the info together in a book or Data disk in the future. I don't intend to put out a huge every plant there is 3 volume plant dictionary but something that is useful for both general advice and some reasonable plant i.d. for sub-tropics areas. Basically a book with pretty pictures and useful information. Because I worked in nurseries and done some studies, I have spent a lot of money on books and have found that I have had to buy too many for what an average garden enthusiast probably would. So I am condensing all the info that I have learned mainly for my own sake but would like to put it to good use.
    My biggest problem with plants and their i.d. has been deciding which is the current and correct name to use when it's synonymous with other species. A Grevillea is a Grevillea, a Codiaeum is a Codiaeum that's easy but when it comes to some plants especially cacti and succulents there can be multiple names. (e.g Cleistocactus samaipatanus can also be Bolivicereus croceus, Bolivicereus rufus, Bolivicereus brevicaulis, Borzicactus roseiflorus, Akersia roseiflora, Borzicactus samaipatanus, Bolivicereus samaipatanus).
    I have even seen a colleague spend $50.00 on a 'rare' Agave maculata which, when they were showing it off to me I pointed out it was actually Manfreda maculata which I'd bought for $5 at a garage sale about 4 years earlier and I would've given them a pup for nothing! When I search Manfreda however they are syn with Agave stictata, maculata, maculosa and Agave manfreda maculosa. Though the main plant does not die after flowering leaving me thinking that they are not true Agave and should be kept as Manfreda.
    Sorry going off course a little but I guess you see my point. I have read an older thread regarding which sites are best but there still seems to be variances between sites and books and it just ends up more confusing because I can end up with more names than what I started with. I know if I am putting names to plants I can put all synonyms with it but which is the correct one to use as the main name?
     
  2. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I thought of doing something similar, but I am time poor. Good luck with the taxonomy lol, if I can be of help with aroids or other tropicals, drop me a line mate.

    Ed
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    You read the arguments for the new names in whichever venue a particular name change is proposed in and you read related material and decide for yourself if you are going to adopt a new name in your own publication.

    Synonyms for names you are going to use as preferred or correct are all listed with it, as synonyms if you wish to be comprehensive. For a garden plant book rather than a botanical work you may wish to list only selected synonyms, such as those which are most prevalent.

    The most efficient way to develop a list of garden plants to cover is to base it on wholesale catalog listings. Otherwise it is not really possible to be comprehensive unless focusing on a smaller topic, as would be done in a monograph. There are far too many kinds of plants being grown in gardens to cover them all in one work. Even a giant book like FLORA with its 70,000 kinds of plants is only a partial treatment. More than that many kinds has been listed (by the RHS Plant Finder for retail sale for one year in the UK alone.
     
  4. Chungii V

    Chungii V Active Member

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    As I said I have no intentions on going into huge detail on everything but I have noticed there is a general line of plants commonly used as you say, shown in wholesale plant lists. The problems I have had with most publications is that they are too general in plant selections. It's hard for some reason to convince someone who's read about a plant in a book that it cannot handle certain conditions. This stems from where most books are written and published. Trying to grow something from a different zone yet adhering to what was written in that area and not understanding why it's not working.
    Some of the more area specific books are far less detailed and are more 'coffee table books'. They seem to be more like 'palms in the tropics' or 'growing ginger and heliconia in the sub tropics' (not real book names). They'll have good photos but often lack either in variety or useful information.
    I also seem to find that few books go into much in the way of common problems that can occur i.e. species related pests and diseases. Okay I have decent pest & disease books and yes some species have pages of info but still a mention of common problems and symptoms could save a lot of searching back and forth. The amount of times I've answered the question 'What are the lumps on the leaf of my llillypilly?'
    Over time I have collected a wide range of species which have given me many a headache trying to get information on and left me buying yet another special book just for a few plants that are in it. I know I don't have any hope to cover every plant that's ever been used but would like to put some info out there on the more common (staple) species and some of the other options available for our particular climate. Often just finding the photo of a certain species has led me on the right path for a full i.d.
    Photos are also sometimes a problem when a book shows a zoomed picture of a flower on a 20 metre tree that you'll probably not ever see that close until they've withered and dropped. Photos of a leaf that could be 1 off 5 different plants in the same species but no flower pics.etc.
    I am still pretty young and have a few years of recovering from an injury ahead of me so I'm in no rush to just throw everything together. I think I'll still be going trying to decide what else I can add by that time. The hardest part will be knowing to stop when I think I have enough because I am always going to find something new (bit like my yard actually:})
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm working on something similar for the traditional food plants of Ecuador; my biggest beef is with Vasconcella / Carica at the moment, but stuff keeps getting moved around in the Ericaceae as well. Ugh. Best of luck!
     
  6. Chungii V

    Chungii V Active Member

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    Here's one I've just come across while doing some i.d. I'm glad I don't have this one in my collection 25 synonyms!
    Rhipsalis teres can also be known as Rhipsalis tetragona, Rhipsalis maricaensis, Rhipsalis penduliflora, Rhipsalis prismatica, Hariota prismatica, Rhipsalis teres, Cactus pendulus, Rhipsalis pendula, Hariota riedeliana, Rhipsalis virgata, Rhipsalis heteroclada, Rhipsalis clavellina, Rhipsalis riedeliana, Rhipsalis teres, Cactus teres, Hariota teres, Rhipsalis gracilis, Rhipsalis capilliformis, Hariota conferta, Rhipsalis conferta, Rhipsalis cribrata, Hariota cribrata, Erythrorhipsalis cribrata, Rhipsalis floribunda, Rhipsalis alboareolata
    :}
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Pinus mugo has 178 synonyms, though most of them are at varietal or subspecific rank, and none are in any genus other than Pinus. No, I'm not going to list them all!
     
  8. bertoli55

    bertoli55 Active Member 10 Years

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    Your book is a great idea. It wasn't until I'd been gardening for a few years that I realised that most of the books that I'd bought were useless. The naming game is so annoying -it's easy to understand why many gardeners stick to common names, which are fine if you just stick to your own region and buy locally but, as soon as you venture out.....
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    ...as soon as you venture out, you find that the sweet corn you're trying to buy is actually popcorn....
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    You only have to venture as far as someone who is using a common name you don't know. Took several questions later to figure out one party I was estate gardening for was talking about Bergenia when they indicated an interest in getting some "elephant ear daphne".
     
  11. bertoli55

    bertoli55 Active Member 10 Years

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    :) "Elephant ear daphne" hehe that would take some beating. I'm a bit pedantic about plants-a sad case who even has a database of plants in our garden ,only problem is the names keep changing. Oh well at least the names in my books database are constant :)
     

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