Top Alocasia botanist explains why Alocasia x amazonica should not be used

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by photopro, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Australian Alistair Hay is one of the two top aroid botanists having completed extensive work on the genus Alocasia. In this note reprinted from the International Aroid Society's Aroid l posted on November 20, 2009 Alistair explains why the term Alocasia x amazonica should not be used.

    IMO what we really need to do is to let these hybrid botanical names slide into complete disuse as historical curiosities.

    Part of the problem is that there is so much confusing orthography (they way they are written), and it is not clear if names being used are (or are intended to be) botanical hybrid names (under the Botanical Code), cultivar names (under the Cultivated Code - ICNCP) or something else (outside the codes), and therefore to what plant or plants they should refer. If botanical hybrid names are used, then there will be endless (pointless) discussion about which definition of these hybrids should be adopted (particularly in this A. longiloba complex where they may be legitimate disagreement about what species can or cannot be recognized and hence how the hybrids are defined) and which of the several hybrid binomials has priority.

    The correct orthography for a cultivar name is Alocasia 'Amazonica' : the genus (i.e. the denomination class) is italicized, and the cultivar epithet is non-italicized, in single quotes and starts with a capital letter. This indicates unequivocally that the entity is a cultivar whose definition and naming is determined under the Cultivated Code (ICNCP). The definition of this cultivar is not specified by its parentage. For practical purposes it is simply plants that match Salvadore Mauro's plant. A variant arising from, say, somaclonal mutation in the tissue culture of A. 'Amazonica' can be selected, propagated and named something else if it has proven to be stable, such as A. 'Polly'. The parentage of A. 'Amazonica' is a piece of adjunct information that may be useful for hybridizers to know, but doesn't have any direct bearing on the definition of the cultivar, and so opinions about what the parents were (if there were no or dubious records) or, in this case, whether Alocasia watsoniana is a "good" species or not, are irrelevant and need not complicate the question of what is A. 'Amazonica'.

    On the other hand the recognition of the hybrid 'species' Alocasia x amazonica (with the correct orthography of italics for both the genus and the species epithet, and the epithet starting with a lower case letter, and the genus and species separated by a multiplication sign, all to signify a hybrid 'species' under the Botanical Code) opens up a raft of hideous complications. First, the botanical hybrid IS defined by its parentage, so what is it? Alocasia watsoniana x A. sanderiana, or A. longiloba x A. sanderiana, or A. longiloba "watsoniana" (my informal label for the watsoniana-like variants of A. longiloba) x A. sanderiana? Who decides where watsoniana begins and ends, and so what hybrids belong in A. x amazonica and what don't? Second, however the parentage is defined, the hybrid name would be applicable to ALL hybrids with that parentage: not just f1's, but f2's, f3,s and backcrosses etc etc etc. Third, there would arise the question of priority - depending how A. x amazonica was defined, there would likely be one or more Victorian-era hybrid binomial(s) already validated for it. Fourth, there is the problem of consistency: if botanical hybrid names are used for some cultivated Alocasias, how many more need to be created for those interspecific hybrids for which they do not yet exist?

    So let's not talk about Alocasia x amazonica

    Alistair


    The "F's, F1's etc. refer to the generations created after the first cross of a hybrid plant.


    You can learn more here: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=58955
     
  2. Tom Hulse

    Tom Hulse Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you for posting that Steve, that same thing has been bugging me throughout the 'Amazonica' thread. I have to agree with Alistair 100% that it would be incorrect really to use an "x" in front of this cultivar.
    There is a common misperception out there that the "x" is used to denote that the plant is a hybrid, and many of these tangled messes start there. The "x" is only used to denote a whole big giant group of hybrids with common ancestors.

    One way way that messes like this can start would be something like this:
    1) Sam makes the cross & names just one specific plant Alocasia 'Amazonica'.
    2) He shares it with Dufus, who wrongly labels it A. x amazonica; thinking that means simply that its a hybrid.
    3) Dufus then shares it or talks about it in print, and everyone else says 'According to the ICBN, if one cultivar is properly labeled with this type of name, then ALL cultivars with the same parents should have the same hybrid group name'... and so they all then wrongly change their labels to A. x amazonica (perhaps as might have been done in Belguim?), and it becomes almost impossible to tell who has the deal.

    So Alocasia 'Amazonica' is the right way, and Alocasia Amazonica is a fast-and-sloppy replacement that most of us use, but we never want to use the multiplication sign since this name was never meant to describe a whole group of plants, and it could lead to the original plant being lost by dilution. :)
     
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  3. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Alocasia 'amazonica' is the correct way but to use the single quotes the hybrid must be registered. The International Aroid Society is the official registry and obviously Sam never registered the hybrid and is now deceased. However, we are now looking at ways to get around that technical requirement and it is my hope the IAS can finally get something done. I'm on the governing board but the final decision is left in other hands. All I can do is to continue to push the effort.

    But it is certain the name Alocasia x amazonica shouldn't be used as Alistair explained.
     
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  4. Tom Hulse

    Tom Hulse Active Member 10 Years

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    Steve, actually it's 'Amazonica'. That cultivar epithet needs to be in capitals. Species are lower-case, cultivars are capitalized.
    There is no restriction on being registered, or even published to use the single quotes. According to the Code (ICNCP 2004), the quotes are merely there there to indicate that you are talking about a cultivar, and not another taxonomic group. So even if you are thinking of possible new names for a cultivar that has never been registered, it would be proper to say: "Should we name it 'Tom's Plant' or 'Steve's Plant'?".
    The next step, to be established as a proper cultivar, it does not need to be registered, only properly published, by anyone, according to the simple requirements of Chapter VI of the ICNCP, even in a catalog. And since this has been a popular cultivar for 50 years, there is really no chance that this hasn't already been done, and so there is no need for the IAS to do anything.
    If someone wanted to go back and research which print catalog was the first to publish the name, and they then found an anomoly or small difference from how we now know the name, and tried to make us change the name, then the International Aroid Society, as the ICRA for aroids, can make a determination and "conserve" the name we commonly use, even if it violates the rules somehow. :)
     
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  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much! Your note is on the way to West Palm Beach, FL in minutes! Please send me a note so we can talk further: Steve@ExoticRainforest.com

    I'm leaving early in the morning to go visit with Dr. Tom Croat and some others at the Myriad Botanical Garden in Oklahoma City so if not right away, I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
     
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