Amaranthaceae

Mary Barkworth Mary at BIOLOGY.USU.EDU
Tue Jul 31 08:08:11 CDT 2001


The same arguments were used years ago for conservation of names of
species of some species such as that of what we now call Pseudotsuga
menziesii "No one will ever be able to learn the new name".  Oddly
enough, almost no one around now can remember the old name.  Canadians,
but not Americans, have learned to cope with temperatures in degrees
Fahrenheit. The government simply quit broadcasting temperatures in
degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, even people are capable of learning.
And those of us that learned the two old names will grow old, retire,
and eventually die.  This is a fact of life. This may sound rude, but it
really is not intended that way.  It does not even take long, maybe
10-15 years, for what was so familiar it could not be changed to become
old hat.  To my great regret  (I am old), names like Gramineae and
Leguminosae are passing out of use in the US. Students coming through in
areas with new floras are often completely unaware of these wonderfully
informative names. 

For the last three years I have been telling my students that what are
treated as two families in many floras would be better treated as a
single family and the name is Amaranthaceae. That they will need to cope
with supervisors that routinely treat Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae
as two families, but be prepared to find themselves hiring, in 10 years
or so, graduates who take it for granted that the two families should be
treated as one.  Perhaps I will be proven wrong, but at least I try to
alert my students to the fact that change is very much in the air.  Do
not let us treat the next generation as incapable of learning.  

I do appreciate that there is a problem with literature searches and the
like, but those involved in research on members of these two families
need to be made aware fairly early on that different treatments have
been, and are, being used.  At the same time, I would be very disturbed
to hear that a paper had been rejected because it used the 'wrong'
treatment, whichever was deemed wrong.  




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