releasing rare sp. localities

Charlie and Marg Baker cmbaker at TELEPORT.COM
Tue Dec 10 10:42:13 CST 1996

Dear Michael,

On the surface, asking that people request specific information sounds
infinitely reasonable. However, when we started compiling information for
our first book, we exhausted all references available through
interlibrary loan. We then wrote innumerable letters seeking help with
synonymy or species habitat information.

We never received a single reply from any institution or professional
taxonomist, not one.
Since publication of our first volume, we've always received a response
and usually genuine cooperation. We are certainly delighted to receive
help now, but it disturbs me that we weren't 'worth' helping before. We
haven't changed and neither has the reason why we need information. So,
requiring requests seem reasonable, but our experience with requests has
tainted what would otherwise be enthusiastic agreement.

     What will happen if herbarium staff is busy?

     Will an Email request for additional information be ignored if the
staff doesn't recognize the name or if a message doesn't originate from
an .edu site?

     What criteria might the herbaria staff use to determine whether any
particular request deserves to receive additional information?

As a matter of interest, the plants we need information about are usually
botanical rather than horticultural, but not always. When we develop
cultural information for a genera, we include all currently recognized
species, even those with tiny green flowers. Perhaps the information will
be beneficial in the future. :)  Frequently nothing has been written
about these plants since their original description in Europe.
Descriptions were made from imported plants, and habitat information with
is commonly limited to something like 'Amazonia' or 'China'.

Regarding amateurs doing taxonomy. Few amateurs can ever know enough
about the art and science of a genera to do more than add an additional
layer of confusing synonyms. Much like many beginning taxonomists. ;)  In
our opinion, no-one should author a new name before the need for it has
been absolutely determined, plants should not be named "pending
conclusion of ongoing studies" or by an amateur just because the markings
are different. Personal pet peeves.

When asked a taxonomic question our standard response is "We aren't
taxonomists and don't pretend to be." Even if we have a personal opinion,
we seldom express it, because no matter what we say, people assume we are
experts and construe our speculation to be fact.

Thanks for listening, Marg.

Charles and Margaret Baker, Portland, Oregon USA (cmbaker at
"Orchid Species Culture" Timber Press.
Vol-1 Pescatorea, Phaius, Phalaenopsis, Pholidota, Phragmipedium, Pleione
  Hardcover ISBN 0-88192-189-0   Paperback ISBN 0-88192-208-0
Vol-2 Dendrobium (all 1250 +/- species) in press
  Hardcover ISBN 0-88192-360-5   Paperback ISBN 0-88192-366-4  (progress

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