Sphaeroides of tuber?

David E. Boufford boufford at OEB.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Dec 18 16:05:29 CST 1996

The diagnosis was by someone at a very small Chinese institution and
published locally in an obscure book written almost entirely in Chinese.  To
many people who use a writing system different from those in the West it
would be hard to tell that some of the words in the diagnosis were not in
Latin.  Most people in these situations do not have anywhere near the
library resources available at a large, or even moderate, sized institution,
and often do not have access to someone who can help them prepare abstracts,
keys, descriptions or diagnoses in either Latin or English, or in any other

The holotype is cited and its place of deposition is given.  The intent is
certainly clear and my recommendation is that the name be accepted.

David Boufford

At 08:00 AM 18 12 1996 -0500, you wrote:
>I am offended that anyone would accept such shoddy work as
>an acceptable Latin diagnosis.  The code says LATIN diagnosis, not
>"igpay-atinlay" (Pig Latin).  My questions are: 1) HOW could such
>gibberish get through the publication process? and 2) HOW can anyone
>consider it acceptable?  Even if one is a proponent of doing away
>with Latin diagnoses, this garbage should be offensive as Bad Science!
>I would certainly not have accepted this as validly published, were
>it a Trifolium species (on which I am working now), and would not
>consider it validly published in Amorphophallus!!!!
>M.A. Vincent
>> >   Sphaeroides of tuber 5 cm longis in diametre, flowering before the
leaves 1
>> >leafing 3 leaflet decurrent pinnatatus 4-6 cm longis spathe 30 cm longis
>> >spike brevioribus 20 cm longis floret Aprili; leafing Junio. ... typus ...
>> This diagnosis happened to be published in a genus I am revising and just
>> for completeness I'll mention it is the plant genus Amorphophallus
>> (fam. Araceae). When I saw this diagnosis for the first time a few years ago,
>> I decided that with ICBN art. 36.1 "In order to be validly published, a name
>> of a new taxon of plants, ......, must be accompanied by a Latin description
>> or diagnosis or......", the name of the species accompanying this diagnosis
>> was invalidly published. I cannot but interpret that "Latin diagnosis" IS
>> a diagnosis in LATIN! Wrong! I had this diagnosis examined by a few people
>> that are professionally very busy with ICBN and its interpretation and I
>> understood that "There is enough Latin in it to fit ICBN art. 36.1" and
>> consequently the name of the taxon was e.g. accepted in Index Kewensis.
>> Up until this day I think that this is a wrong way of using ICBN. It may be
>> that naturally English speaking colleagues can interpret art. 36.1 in a way
>> fitting their tradition (it is said that the English think more in concepts
>> than in definitions) but for a non-naturally-English-speaking person a
>> translation of "Latin diagnosis" can hardly read "A diagnosis with at
>> least ...% Latin words in it". That would require an explanatory note.
>> As a consequence a diagnosis with e.g. hexadecimal computer language in it
>> but also some Latin words, could satisfy art. 36.1. Discussions about
>> the interpretation of ICBN are many and now we seem to get presented by
>> interpreting the LANGUAGE proper that ICBN is published in. I hope that
>> the wordings of the BIOCODE in the future will be clearer on such matters.
>> My question remains: does this Amorphophallus taxon seem validly published?
> Dr. Michael A. Vincent, Curator    TEL: 513-529-2755
>W.S. Turrell Herbarium (MU)        FAX: 513-529-4243
>Department of Botany
>Miami University
>Oxford, Ohio 45056 USA
>Email: Vincenma at MUOhio.edu

David E. Boufford
Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-2020
Tel. [1] 617-495-0794
Fax  [1] 617-495-9484
e-mail boufford at oeb.harvard.edu

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