Botanical nomenclatural query

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Wed Apr 3 07:52:51 CST 2002

At 03:41 PM 4/3/02 +0200, Dipteryx wrote:

>If I may restate the issue here at hand (as I understand it):
>If a taxon is raised to a new rank it is the custom to retain the epithet of
>the former rank.  The question is, does this custom have a basis in the
>ICBN, either as a rule or as a recommendation?

As Gerry Moore pointed out, it is merely a recommendation, Rec.
24B.2.  Recommendations are guides to good practice.  Failing to fiollow
one does not jeopardize a name's standing.

>What is to stop anybody who dislikes current epithets from moving these
>taxa to a new rank (say from a variety to a subspecies or vice versa) and
>attaching new epithets?

Absolutely nothing, except whatever unspoken social covenant it is that
compells academics to toe the line and play by the rules: fear of censure,
desire to conform, altruism, common sense, etc.

If you'll forgive me, this scenario does not seem very likely to occur.  If
it did and there was no merit to the new ranks, the rest of us would do to
the party responsible what we did to Rafinesque, E. L. Greene, et al.:
consign them to perpetual synonymy.

The one time I excercised this option myself, I did so to prevent the
existence in a small endemic Hawaiian genus of both a "parvifolia" and a
"parviflora."  I thought the confusion avoided was worth violating a

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and biogeography
of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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