Sphaeroides of tuber?

Frederick J. Peabody fpeabody at SUNFLOWR.USD.EDU
Thu Dec 19 11:46:37 CST 1996

On Wed, 18 Dec 1996, Wilbert Hetterscheid wrote:

> In a recent message about the subject of Latin diagnoses the
> following was posted:
> >How about this:
> >   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 ...
> >   It seems better not to give the author, publication, taxon, etc.
> >JeF Veldkamp
> etc.
> 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?
> Greetings,
> Wilbert Hetterscheid (amorphophallophile)
> vkc at pbga.agro.nl or w.hetter at pbga.agro.nl

I would agree that the above is a miserable excuse for a Latin
description.  The problems you cite on % of Latin words are certainly
appropriate.  But who am I to have any say against the high priests of the
botanical nomenclatural establishment?  Does the fact that it has been
included in Index Kewensis substantiate its valid publication?
f.j. peabody

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