local names for plants

Hugh D. Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Wed Jul 17 09:17:40 CDT 1996

I tried to send a similar message on this topic a few days ago and don't think it
went out.  Trying again and sorry if the prior note *did* get out.

Anita F. Cholewa says  "I think it's time to stop "dumbing down"

On the other hand, it might also be time for biologists, especially
systematic biologists, to bring biodiversity information to those
with a need.  While our students surely need full exposure to
technical names, many with a need for information - legislators,
taxpayers, etc. - are often only equipped with a local name.  Thus,
linkage between formal nomenclature and local names is, in my
opinion, an important and useful enterprise - for both users and

Since 'common' names are essentially local names, they are not common
to the global community.  A 'buttercup' is a Ranunculus in Ohio,
an Oenotherea in Texas, and who knows what in China.  While it is not
an easy task, we should be looking at ways to insure that folks from
different parts of the world can use their names to link to 'the'
standardized name.

Also, with regard to local name sources, the Biota of North America
Program maintains a full (ranks) listing for vascular plant taxa
(over 21k records) in the BONAP range that can be searched from
several WWW sites.  The Texan vascular plant dialect can be explored
via local name keywords at:


Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)

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