Nomenclature: botanical tradition?

Laurie Adams l.adams at PICAN.PI.CSIRO.AU
Thu Feb 20 17:02:32 CST 1997

Dear Taxacomers,

Can anyone out there give a lucid explanation of just what is meant in the
Code by 'botanical tradition' - Art 62.1 of the Tokyo Code is no help at
all! The problem for me came up recently when trying to ascertain the
correct gender of Lotus and Melilotus; in the past (e.g. 'Flora Europaea')
the first has been masculine and the second feminine; but now the Code
specifically insists they are to be treated as masculine, whereas William
Stearn's 'Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners" (1992) gives both as

For some years I've looked forward to the time when nomenclatural 'lawyers'
finally got their act together; but it seems taxonomic botany is still
plagued by the 'nomenclatural-tail-wagging-the-taxonomic-dog' syndrome. I
hasten to add that I'm a fervent believer in use of Latin/Greek
nomenclature/description - but when are we going to have some simple,
clear-cut, easily-remembered rules ALL can follow, without this appalling
plethora of exceptions stemming from a slavish obsession with Middle-Age
'tradition'? If we must have them, it would have been useful if there was
produced a standard reference to gender of generic names; for instance,
Dick Brummitt in his 'Vascular Plant Families and Genera' could have added
gender to names; (perhaps in the next edition, Dick?).

Laurie Adams
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research
Australian National Herbarium
GPO Box 1600, Canberra
ACT 2601, Australia
Ph: (06)2465123 Fax: (06)2465249
E-mail: l.adams at

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