Adolf Ceska aceska at VICTORIA.TC.CA
Fri Jul 24 07:12:53 CDT 1998

Dear Dr. Harriman,

Many thanks for your answer. I am sending this to the whole list, I
noticed that I was the only recipient of your note and I think others
should be able to read your explanation. You might have noticed that I
typed "Salicaria" with the capital "S" and recognized it as an apposition,
but I was treating "hyssopifolia" as an adjective. I have to say that I am
happy with using lower case letters for all the specific epithets. My
experience with the lower-end users of botanical nomenclature (students,
amateur botanists, gardeners, & various consultants) tells me that we
should NOT capitalize specific epithets.

I noticed that in Lythrum Linne used L. Hyssopifolia and L. Thymifolia,
whereas Karsten & Kitaibel described L. linifolium. It sure looks strange,
if you put all the species in one single list. But so does Scirpus
cespitosus L. next to Vaccinium caespitosum Michx.


Adolf Ceska

On Thu, 23 Jul 1998, Neil A. Harriman wrote:

> The generic name is given as neuter gender in Wm. T. Stearn's Dictionary of
> Plant Names for Gardeners.  Hence, one finds Lythrum alatum, Lythrum
> lineare, and so on.
> However, we also find Lythrum Salicaria and Lythrum Hyssopifolia, and if we
> capitalize the specific epithets (as the rules permit), one sees (as
> Linnaeus did) that the epithets are both nouns in apposition, and neither
> is adjectival; therefore, neither can be altered to agree in gender with
> the noun (Lythrum) they modify.
> The current practice which is so common, to decapitalize epithets that
> could be rendered with an initial capital letter, results in loss of
> information.  And of course it occasions questions like yours, which I hope
> I have helped to resolve.
> Neil A. Harriman
> Biology Department
> University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
> Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901

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