ICBN experts

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Thu Nov 27 09:46:59 CST 1997

On 26 November, Luis Diego Gomez wrote:

>I would like to hear the opinions of those of you who handle ICBN
>problems on the following subject:
>Between 1930 and 1940, Mr. XX published a Revision of the Genus AAAA
>**Fungi. The official publication date is 1938.  In it, this learned
>colleague published several descriptions of new species in English.
>Nowhere did he use Latin.
>Are these descriptions valid?

The question being asked is whether the names of the species described
are validly published.  The relevant Article of the ICBN is Art. 36.1
that deals with the requirement for a Latin description or diagnosis.
This reads:

"36.1.  In order to be validly published, a name of a new taxon of
plants, the algae and all fossils excepted, published on or after
1 January 1935 must be accompanied by a Latin description or
diagnosis or by a reference to a previously and effectively
published Latin description or diagnosis (but see Art. H.9)."

The critical date is thus 1 January 1935; moreover, unless there is
"proof establishing some other date, the one appearing on the printed
mattermust be accepted as correct" (Art. 11.1).

Dr Gomez goes on to ask:

>    in regards to: a- Latin descriptions. Were Fungi supposed to
comply to that Rule at that time?

The answer is that, except when specifically excluded, names of fungi
must comply with ALL the rules of the ICBN.  The basis for this is to
be found in Preamble 7:

"7.  The rules and recommendations apply to all organisms
traditionally treated as plants. whether fossil or non-fossil, e.g.
blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), fungi (including chytrids,
oomycetes, and slime moulds); photosynthetic protists and
taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups."  - there are
footnotes explaining what is meant by "fossil" and that other
prokaryotic groups are covered by the Bacteriological Code.

>Furthermore, he included several species which had never been published,
>in Latin or otherwise, but were "Herbarium names". For example:
>AAAA spicatus Smith, herbarium name (hypothetical, of course)
>Does Prof. XX's validate those herbarium names?

The answer would seem to depend primarily on whether Prof. XX met the
requirements of Art. 32.1:

"32.1.  In order to be validly published, a name of a taxon
(autonyms excepted) must: .... (c) be accompanied by a description
or diagnosis or by a reference to a previously and effectively
published description or diagnosis (except as provided in Art.
42.3, 44.1, and H.9); and .... "
[the exceptions relate to pre-1908 "illustrations with analysis", and
to names of nothogenera, neither of which are relevant to the case].

As the date is 1938, and there was apparently no Latin diagnosis, it
would seem that, even if Prof. XX discussed the diagnostic features of
the species whose "herbarium names" he took up, the names were not
validly published.

Dr Gomez goes on to ask:
>b- Is the citation of someone else's "herbarium name" enough to
>validate publication of a fungus, at least in 1938?

Unless Dr Gomez means by "herbarium name" something other than a
manuscript (or typed) name on a herbarium specimen, I cannot think of
any way in which Prof XX's usage of the names could possibly validate
them after 1935, absent a Latin description or diagnosis or reference
to a previously and effectively published Latin description or

>Much obliged. Need not respond to the entire list but directly to me.

As the use of the word "plants" in Art. 36.1 could be confusing,
particularly with the Code now available on the Web (and hence
reference to earlier sections less immediately easy), I thought it
worth general communication.

John McNeill

  John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum,
  100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
  Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744  e-mail: johnm at rom.on.ca

More information about the Taxacom mailing list