Common Names => Classification (utility) & species (unique identifiers)

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Tue Jul 17 08:32:47 CDT 2001

>D) and where common names don't exist, they can and should be derived from
>scientific names (such as boa constrictor is both a scientific as well as
>common english name).

There is nothing that contributes to knowledge less than the invention of a
common or vernacular name.  We have to accept that in many (most?) cases
common names simply do not exist, simply because the organism is not
common, or is otherwise uninteresting to common people, or there are so
many species in the group that we just do not need to name them all.

Deciding to call _Grammitis garrettii_, Garrett's Grammitis is a pure
fabrication that contributes nothing.  Yet people have done this sort of
thing for entire floras and cluttered the literature with a whole new
useless suite of names.

What is the point of coining a common name like for argument's sake,
'Dissected Oenotichia' for _Oenotrichia dissecta_ when literally a handful
of people have ever seen it and even less are able to recognize it, or even

Common or vernacular names are a real plant names and should be documented
and referenced as far as we are able, but to deconstruct scientific names
to make them, or to make them by any other means is not something that
should be encouraged.  Maybe it works in birds and mammals where you can
actually count the species, but in other groups it is a nuisance.

>As an aside to those botanist read this stream. Do the Linnaean genera,
>like Ulmus (elms), Quercus (oaks), Acer (maples), Pinus (pines), etc.,
>remain in use in their broad sense that I as a zoologist think of them?  Or
>have they too been split?

In countries like Australia, none of the tree species referred to Pine, Oak
or Maple, and a heap of others, are at all not related at all to the genera
you mention.  They received their names in early colonial days because
their timber looked or behaved sort of like some European species.  Species
of Grevillea and other Proteaceae became Silky Oak because the timber had
attractive wide rays, totally unrelated _Casuarina_ became She-Oak because
it had pale brown wood with wide rays but was otherwise inferior to real
oak - couldn't get away with that today   :)


~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at ~ 02-62465500 ~ ~

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