What is the process for renaming a wildflower?

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by Wheatland, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Wheatland

    Wheatland Member

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    I am curious about who you contact or write to in order to petition for a name change of a wildflower? Has anyone ever heard what the process is? Or if it has ever been successfully done?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Botanical name?
     
  3. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    I know that renaming of plant spp. does occur. Some say "Ludisia" for jewel orchid; some say "Haemaria". Seems to me that I've read that once upon a time before there were Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium orchids, all were Cypripedium. Go figure. Anyway, what you're talking about is a wildflower, and this would probably involve state legislators and proposals and the like. I'd say get ahold of your congressperson. I'd further say that a cogent reason for this maneuver would help its chance for success. I'm curious...what IS your reason?
     
  4. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    For the botanical name change, I would think you would have to be a PhD botanist with some recognized credibility in your field & sufficient evidence (genetic or otherwise) to substantiate your proposal and follow everything up with a paper published in an appropriate journal. While I don't know the exact procedure, presumably if one had the cred & education to make the change, they would also know how to do it.

    For a common name change.....that might actually be harder....lobbying naturalists, horticulturalists, and botanists. Communicating to authors & publishers, etc, etc.

    In either case, elected lawmakers would have nothing to do with name changing.
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, you need the credible evidence, and need to publish it, but you don't need a PhD, anyone can carry out botanical research.

    Over here at least, botanical organisations like the BSBI (Botanical Society of the British Isles) are commissioned by the elected lawmakers to compile an index of official common names in each relevant national language. Works like this in a.f.a.i.k. all EU nations.
     
  7. Wheatland

    Wheatland Member

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    I'm thinking a Common Name change, not scientific. I assure you it is purely emotional and selfish and related to discussions that I have shared with friends who have had similar experiences. It is in regard to Queen Anne's Lace. Most, if not all, people I've spoken with have been educated about this wildflower, and many others, by their Grandmothers. For many, many years I thought that was what it was called "Grandmothers Lace". It seems fitting to me, and more logically makes sense that this would be a better name for it. Was this plant not around prior to Queen Anne's time? And its medicinal properties passed down by grandmothers and mothers from generation to generation? So, I suppose there would need to be a more logical argument for doing so. I suppose one could start with small steps and start at the state level and hope it catches on.
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    There are no regulations for common names. If you invent one and people start to use it, then it becomes a common name.
     
  9. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  10. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd really like to read those regulations, if you could be so kind as to post a link or two. Thanks!
     
  11. Wheatland

    Wheatland Member

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  12. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Michael has been lobbying North American's for years to use the common name Cedar for the genus Cedrus only. He's not however, having much success. I suspect you'll have similar difficulties as well with Queen Anne's Lace. I doubt that 'Wild Carrot' will 'take' here either.
     
  13. Wheatland

    Wheatland Member

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    Well, I understand how difficult change can be. We human beings can be hard to convince.
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Most people using common names for plants are not botanists and are unaware of official listings, will likely continue to use "unofficial" common names indefinitely.
     
  15. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sorry, not been able to find the details online. It's in one of the EU Habitat Directives, that national botanical (and zoological) organisations in each country should establish a set of standard names for plants (and animals) in their respective languages, to improve communication, particularly in situations where scientific names are not used (e.g. legal cases). The official English names were published in English Names of Wild Flowers (Botanical Society of the British Isles, 1980). Note BSBI covers both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

    One I did find online, if you can read Swedish, the Svenska artproject (Swedish species project) has details of the publication of official Swedish names for plants and animals:
    http://www.artdata.slu.se/svenskaartprojektet/artnamn.asp

    While others can (and all too often do!) change the names, changing the names of someone elses' plants for them is rather offensive, with its clear implication of "you've got it wrong, you're so ignorant that you can't be trusted to name your own native plants correctly". Particularly so when it is done by an agency of a nation (such as USDA); that is close to comparable to some other agency of a nation (such as the US Army, or the President of Russia) saying that e.g. the name of a President or a Prime Minister of another country (such as the Presidents of Iraq, and Georgia, respectively) is wrong and needs to be changed. So while it might seem trivial to some, to those so affected, it is not.

    That certainly isn't the case over here; virtually all the literature uses the standard names. People learn their common names from popular field guides, nature reserve signboards, etc., and the authors of these all use the standard names. If authors in e.g. the USA did likewise (as US ornithological authors already do), the general public would soon follow suit.
     
  16. bjo

    bjo Active Member 10 Years

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    Michael and I will never agree on this topic !!

    I almost exclusively use the scientific names of plants, but I love the "common" / vernacular ones. They are often charming or funny, may tell you something about the plant or about peoples relationship to the plant / use of the plant. But there is no denying that the use of the scientific name is less likely to lead to confusion as to exactly which plant is being referred to.

    For me (and the books I have consulted), "Queen Anne's Lace" refers to Anthriscus sylvestris, not to Daucus carota.

    The best source I think for English names (ie names used in England) of plants is Geoffrey Grigson's "The Englishman's Flora"(1958). He lists 52 English common names for Anthriscus sylvestris. These include:

    Queen Anne's Lace
    Adders' Meat
    Bad Man's Oatmeal
    Cow-Mumble
    Cow-Parsley (the BSBI official name)
    Oldrot
    Gipsy Curtains
    Kelk
    Mayweed
    Moonlight
    Scabby Hands
    Sweet Ash

    ....take your pick!

    Interestingly, he suggests that the "Queen Anne" is Saint Anne the mother of the Virgin Mary.

    A more recent book "Flora Britannica" by Richard Mabey (1996) lists 15 names in use in Great Britain. He quotes several versions of how the name "Queen Anne's Lace" arose, but concludes ..."All the explanations have a rather contrived feel about them, and it is more likely that the name is an import from North America, where Cow Parsley is widely naturalised. "

    So its your name after all !!

    Of course if you are in Canada...
    ....you could use one of the names in French eg Cerfeuil Sauvage

    [PS in Portugal there are again a few names...eg "Cicuta dos Boques" = Wood Hemlock]

    Ciao
    BrianO
     
  17. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've viewed the Svenska artproject pages and, though my Swedish is close to non-existent, I can't find mention of standardized common names (particularly when browsing through the English version of the pages). I've also had a look through the EU sites, and can't find mention of these regulations -- nor indeed practice. The language of communication seems to be scientific names (which is expected with multiple languages).

    I suppose someone ought to inform the people in Hortax about the regulations, though:

    And, a chapter on common names in their July 2007 publication of Plant Names (pdf)
     
  18. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Translated (my italics):

    The Swedish Species Project steering group has adopted a principle that all organisms which are included in the National key should have Swedish names. To start this, the senior management team set up the Committee for Swedish Animal Names, which held its constitutional meeting on 2004-03-11. The Committee will work on the Swedish names for Nordic animal species first. In the case of birds, the Swedish Ornithological Society Taxonomic Committee is responsible. The Swedish Botanical Society Working Group for Swedish plant names has the same function in the case of vascular plants, mosses, algae, lichen and fungi.

    [Note that this particular page does not have an English version on their website, only a few of the many pages do so]
     
  19. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Hey, I say go with what you truly feel. If this is really important to you, significant in a personal way---go for it! Amazing what can be accomplished by an individual with a dream. Get this: In 1998, the dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) became the state wildflower of Michigan (House Bill 4923) despite coming in second in a poll taken by the Michigan Wildflower Association. The operative person in this case was then-State Rep. Liz Brater (Ann Arbor), who is now a State Senator. Helping to accomplish this were the Michigan Botanical Club, Mich. Nature Association, Mich. Natural Areas Council, Mich. Environmental Council, and the Univ. of Mich Herbarium. Perhaps State Senator Brater, or any or all of these organizations, could give you advice or help. ??? You never know till you try! ---Y'know, when I was a kid...my parents and I would travel from NY to Illinois every spring to see the relatives, and I remember my grandmother's lace. She made world-class rhubarb pie, and she was an expert at the art of tatting. Can still see the exquisite doilies on the tables in her parlor. ---Best of luck to you!
     
  20. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    My interpretation of this is that they are planning to invent Swedish common (vernacular) names for plants which don't have any.
     
  21. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    There wouldn't be any - the Swedish flora has been too well-known for too long for there to be any plants without native names. And the examples 1-21 lower down the page, include cases that show they're selecting names from among existing ones, on the basis of suitability (e.g. botanical or geographical accuracy).
     
  22. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Every Swedish moss has a common name? Hmm.
     
  23. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    But the project states it covers vascular plants, too. And birds. Not the slightest chance of one of those not having a Swedish name already!

    What really baffles me, is why you (plural you, everyone on your side of the Pond) are so antagonistic to what is, to someone over here, perfectly normal and the natural way to go about things. I find your (US & Canada) method of getting the least educated in society to name things even more alien and perverse.
     
  24. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It doesn't seem natural at all to me to regulate common names or come up with a list of standardized common names. There already exists one homogenized system, scientific names. Attempting to homogenize common names and erect the "one true name" of a thing ignores regional flavour, destroys diversity (of language and thought) and creates blandness. For the purposes of communicating in a regulatory, government or academic environment, the scientific name is sufficient and accessible to all (or at least moreso than a series of country-based common names).

    I am very comfortable with the idea of interpreting a plant and saying it has common name A, B, C, D in England, common name D, E, and F in Ireland, common name G and H in France and common name C, D, G and I in Canada. And then, saying, it has one name that is currently scientifically recognized: Z z.

    I suppose another thing that strikes a chord with me is that as much as I love names and discussing them, it is a bit of fiddling while Rome burns.
     
  25. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    But it just isn't natural - human instinct is to regularise names so that communication is achieved, within your own language, without having to resort to a fossil language that so many people appear unable to cope with. If anyone can call anything any name they like, then no name has any meaning at all.

    It makes a complete nonsense of thread replies like Abgardeneer's here:
    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=43903
    Did he check that 'columbine' wasn't a local "common name" for Malva sylvestris in Levittown? No, of course not! It was answered on the basis of columbine being Aquilegia, and a mistaken identity, not an alternative name.
     

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