need suggestions

06jlsmith at BSUVC.BSU.EDU 06jlsmith at BSUVC.BSU.EDU
Thu Jan 4 14:43:51 CST 1996

   I am doing so taxonomic work with African violets (Saintpaulia) and
need some advice on what others have done with plant groups that show
similar taxonomic problems.

African violets belong to a genus with a relative small geographical
range (parts of Tanzania and Kenya).  Although 20 species have been
described, it is now becoming apparent that most of these "species"
were described from small populations of individuals.  When brought
into cultivation, almost every species will cross easily with another
and give fertile offspring.  There does not appear to be any genetic
barriers between the species.

Question - in other plant groups, what guidelines have been used to
define a "species" in situations like this?  Should a species be one
of the local populations that can be identified by morphological
characteristics, or should the ease with which the plants hybridize
be taken into account?

The pollinators appear to be thrips (very small flying insects) so
crossing between geographical populations in the wild is doubtful.

I'd appreciate any advice and throughts on how to define the species
under these circumstances.

Jeff Smith
06jlsmith at

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