bidens tripartita or tripartitus?

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Fri May 30 12:44:23 CDT 1997

At 11:29 AM 05-30-97 -0500, Frederick J. Peabody wrote:
>On Fri, 30 May 1997, Karol Marhold wrote:

>> In connection with the preparation of the Checklist of the
>> Flora of Slovakia I am trying to solve the problem of the correct
>> spelling of the epithet of "Bidens tripartita".
>> I have consulted several papers which dealt recently with this
>> genus and their authors mostly treated "Bidens" as feminine,
>> (according to the botanical tradition - Art. 62.1. of the ICBN (?) )
>> In such case, if I am correct, it should be "Bidens tripartita"
>> There is, however, alternative opinion - following Art. 62.2.
>> of the ICBN "Bidens" shoud be treated as compund generic
>> name, and the gender of the last word "dens" is masculine
>> and thus it shoud be "Bidens tripartitus"
>Although Latin nouns of the third declension whose nominative singular
>end in "-s" are generally treated as feminine (I learned this as the s-o-x
>rule), the noun "dens, dentis" is an exception and is masculine.
>I vote for "Bidens tripartitus."

Were the genus unispecific, I could go along with being grammatically
correct.  Given that Bidens  is cosmopolitan, with ca. 250 spp., nearly all
of which have adjectival specific epithets of feminine gender (Bidens
pilosa, B. frondosa,  B. populifolia, etc.), I think it is far wiser to obey
Art. 62.1 (which clearly states "irrespective of classical usage") than to
force people around the globe to alter familiar spellings.

Thomas G. Lammers

Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.

Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:     lammers at
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317

The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty."
The optimist says, "The glass is half full."
I say, "Thank you," and enjoy every drop.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list