Plant nomenclature: Generic names

Jeremy J. Bruhl jbruhl at METZ.UNE.EDU.AU
Wed Feb 24 16:42:25 CST 1999


I seek your advice. Those of you who were at Monocots II may have seen a =
poster: Systematic Studies In <I>Homopholis<I>: Evidence For A New Genus =
(Poaceae: Paniceae). By Karen E. Wills, R.D.B. Whalley, and Jeremy J. =
Bruhl. Botany, School of Rural Science and Natural Resources, University =
of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

I had been in touch with Rod Henderson, Senior Principal Botanist, =
Queensland Herbarium, who is a nomenclatural whiz. about the Latin for =
the associated paper. He picked up on our proposed name for the new =
genus: 'Fissura' and pointed out the following:
Rod Henderson:
As I see it, according to ICBN (1994) Art.20.2, the use of any =
morphological term (even in a compound word) for a genus name is a =
"no-no" after 1 January 1912.
My reply was:
So then, why is "Tapheocarpa" (ASB 7 (6) 1994) ok, as it includes =
"carpa" from "carpos" =3D fruit, which is a morphological structure! I =
take you point (or the point of 20.2), but surely there have been many =
generic names since 1912 that break the rule?
Rod clarified his point:
I take the point you made regarding 'Tapheocarpa'.  Looking again at =
ICBN (1994) Art.20, I see that Art.20.1 says that a generic name can =
come 'from any source whatever and may even be composed in an absolutely =
arbitrary manner'.  I guess then what Art.20.2 intends is that in spite =
of what Art.20.1 says, 'the name of a genus may not coincide with a =
technical term currently used in morphology unless it was published =
before 1 January 1912 and accompanied etc...'.

I take it then that this means, for example, terms such as 'Carpa', =
'Palea', 'Lemma', 'Culmus', 'Rhizoma', 'Rima' and 'Fissura' by =
themselves, cannot be used as a validly published generic name.  =
However, any of these terms in combination with something/anything else =
to form a single, compound (or hyphenated in some instances) word =
(Art.20.3), is apparently acceptable in a generic name.

It would be of interest to hear what others think on this subject.

Following Rod's last sentence (above), I seek your opinion.

Our first preference is to call the genus 'Fissura', our second choice =
would be 'Fissuropalea' (which is longer and therefore less desirable, =
but describes a synapomorphy). Our third option would be to use a =
commemorative name (and we are not asking for bids...).


Dr Jeremy J. Bruhl
Senior Lecturer in Botany
Director, N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium (NE)
University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351
jbruhl at
Phone:  +61 2 6773 2429
Fax:    +61 2 6773 3283

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