masc. genitive honorific epithets

Timothy S. Ross rosst at CGS.EDU
Mon Dec 4 15:12:44 CST 1995

Just to add my two cents' worth:
        One should try to be aware of the actual name of the individual
being honored by a specific epithet of genitive form, because it will often
affect whether the epithet is terminated in one "i" or two.
        There is a sloppy trend toward automatically throwing two i's on
the end of any epithet named for a man, but there are cases where this will
be incorrect.  The Hungarian naturalist and "bad boy", Janos ("John")
Xantus was stationed at Fort Tejon in Southern California for a time in the
1800s and collected a number of taxa that were subsequently described as
new by Asa Gray.  One of them was Solanum xanti, for example.  Since Xantus
is already of proper Latin form as a second declension substantive, the
proper genitive form is "xanti" -- and not "xantii" as most people are wont
to spell it.
        Likewise, Wislizenus was honored with Quercus wislizeni (-- NOT
wislizenii, as most people spell it).
        If their names had actually been "Xant" and "Wislizen", then the
names would almost certainly have been latinized to "Xantius" and
"Wislizenius", in which case the "ii" ending would have been the
appropriate genitive form.

        Although peripheral to the topic, Xantus was also stationed for a
time in the Cape Region of Baja California, Mexico, and as a naturalist
also made a number of important discoveries there.  Xantus' hummingbird was
named in his honor, but interestingly (or at least I think so), the generic
name was constructed as Xantusia, rather than Xantia.  I believe that
either generic name would have been acceptable under the ICBN.

Sr. Curatorial Asst.
RSA-POM Herbarium
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
1500 North College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711, U.S.A.
(909) 625-8767 ext. 233
FAX (909) 626-7670
rosst at

"At the end of a fortnight, I fired myself for willful incompetence."
              -- Donald Culross Peattie (The Road of a Naturalist, 1941)

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