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Names may change again - Laelia

This is a discussion on Names may change again - Laelia within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Originally Posted by wetfeet101b That is interesting information Mycologist. It is refreshing to know that ...

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  1. #21
    mycologist's Avatar
    mycologist is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by wetfeet101b View Post
    That is interesting information Mycologist. It is refreshing to know that some areas of botany have it pretty much straightforward and avoid complications as much as possible.

    Although I have to admit, it sounds a bit bland compared to the cloak & dagger mystique involved with orchid taxonomy lol.
    I'm sure Ron and the rest of us would like to get rid of the intrigue as much as we can though.

    Here are some of the things that orchid botanists have to contend with (these are true by the way):

    CITES: It is ok for a developer to raze acres of woodland habitat (and EVERYTHING in it) in order to build hotels and buildings. But whoever is caught moving endangered species from that condemned habitat to safer grounds outside of the native country will face arrest, fines and prison time.
    Note that CITES regulates international trade of "endangered species" and not legally bound to conservation.
    You can kill an endangered species in its own soil and you are fine. Try to take it outside the country for proper conservation and you are doomed!

    From a CITES high ranking official (UK): "Just how do we know if an orchid species is actually rare or endangered? Hell if I know. Appendix I and II were authored by animal taxonomists and lawyers, the three botanists who were on the original panel resigned."

    And some of the genus reclassifications are not even due to newly discovered characteristics that break them away from their existing genus (That would have been a legitimate reason in my opinion).
    Some genera are just outright renamed because it was determined that "someone else" should have been credited for the genus name.

    What I don't understand is why there is so much mud on the policies regarding orchids. Trees and other terrestrial dicotyledon plants do not seem to suffer from so much politics. The fauna side of CITES seems to have its act together.
    My only guess is that orchid fever trumps everything.
    I am fairly new to the orchid stuff, so I have to say I am unclear on how the registration process is affected by this. CITES is a bit of a separate issue but it does become intertwined to some degree as in if they split a species that had a rare variety, the variety as a new species could be considered endangered.

    I think it is entirely unique to have a separate naming process where man-made crosses are given this sort of official treatment. The scientific process includes all species of organisms, and all plants and fungi are covered under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. It is very thorough and rigorous, and works very very well for keeping the scientific names in order. Remember, these are names that are based on complete peer reviewed Latin descriptions with representative specimens preserved permanently as the "type". The code cannot be compromised to accommodate orchid breeders as it covers a huge number of other organisms. I would argue that the only way to make it easier would be to change how the registration process handles changes (I admit I understand nothing about how orchid crosses are named etc. or who sanctions this, but it is not the ICBN). Also, the correct original description must be given priority - it is really not an ego thing. It prevents duplicate names for separate species if the types and descriptions do not match. Sure credit is deserved where credit is due, but in true science ego takes a back seat (hopefully) and the authority is primarily just the reference to the one correct published description and corresponding type material. Species names are almost never changed (just genera and higher), and having a species named after you by a colleague is the only true honor in the system (unless it is for example Phallus ravenellii).

    Whoever registers the orchid crosses seems to employ combining true generic names. In this process, they need to propose a clearcut synonimization protocol such that once a specimen is properly tagged that name never looses its meaning (hence they do not have to be re-tagged unless the grower wants to demonstrate that they are appraised of the adjustments that were made in the scientific community). These protocols are already in place for the scientific names and will not change, so it should be tenable. Basically the registry would just have to keep a list of accepted synonyms (old names) and these could never be used for something new. Then every tag that ever referred accurately to a specific cross will always maintain its full meaning.

    Keep in mind that there is a revolution going on right now in all kingdoms. It has complicated things incredibly in the fungus world too. Because plants and orchids can hybridize in nature, the phylogenies (lineages) can introgress and become ambiguous. However, after centuries of struggling to understand natural relationships the flood gates have opened so we have to try to appreciate that we get to experience this period. It will be easy (and relatively boring) again in the future.
    Last edited by mycologist; September 25th, 2008 at 04:34 PM.

  2. #22
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Saratoga Co. New York


    scientific testing ability has come a long way in the last 50 years. We are now capable of genetically looking at the plant and getting a better idea of relationship among species in a genus. That is why all the changes are taking place. It is not just a random decision to seperate a genus.

    Yes, the species name rarely changes except the ending of the word may change to coordinate with the genera flava or flavum.

    Do to splitters and lumpers having issues there is a constant debate going on. I first thought that the original hybrid names would stand but they haven't. Orchid hybrid registry is done through the Royal Horticultural Society. They have changed all the intergeneric hybrid names on their site. This has been based on the movement of hybrid background species being moved to different genera.

    CITIES is another issue and I do have problems with it for conservation reasons but I can understand, particularly after being a first hand observer of the Phrag kovachii situation.

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