ICBN question

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Fri Sep 13 16:34:14 CDT 2002

On September 11 (2002), Kristina Lemson asked: 
"Are names of groups of genera with the ending -(i)eae that were
published in Roemer and Schultes' edition of Syst. Veg. considered to be
valid equivalents of subfamily names for the purposes of priority?"

Assuming that in this case Roemer and Schultes (ca 1817-20) gave no other indication than the ending, the short answer is "No they don't"; the long answer (explanation) is as follows:

The general article of the ICBN that is involved is Art. 35.3 which reads:

"35.3.  A new name or combination published before 1 January 1953 without a clear indication of its rank is validly published provided that all other requirements for valid publication are fulfilled; it is, however, inoperative in questions of priority except for homonymy (see Art. 53.4). If it is a new name, it may serve as a basionym for subsequent combinations or a replaced synonym for nomina nova in definite ranks."  [N.B. Art. 35.1 rules that from 1 January 1953 such names are NOT validly published]. 

In other words, although the name exists, it has no function as such because it is rankless.  In practical terms the only significance of this rule is that a later author attributing, say, the rank of tribe to such a name, automatically validates the name as that of a tribe, without the need for a new validating description.

However, a more specific rule is probably the one that prompted some of Kristina Lemson's tea room colleagues to think that such names might be validly published at the rank of subfamily (though with an -eae ending surely they meant tribe; -oideae is the subfamily ending in botany).  This is Art. 35.2 which only applies to works published from 1908 onwards; moreover the associated example (Ex. 1) makes clear tat unless Roemer & Schultes specified a definite rank, these suprageneric names are rankless regardless of their ending.

"35.2.  For suprageneric names published on or after 1 January 1908, the use of one of the terminations specified in Rec. 16A.1-3, Art. 17.1, 18.1, 19.1, and 19.3 is accepted as an indication of the corresponding rank, unless this (a) would conflict with the explicitly designated rank of the taxon (which takes precedence) or (b) would result in a rank sequence contrary to Art. 5 (in which case Art. 33.7 applies)."

"Ex. 1.  Jussieu (in Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. 12: 497. 1827) proposed Zanthoxyleae without specifying the rank. Although he employed the present termination for tribe (-eae), that name is unranked. The corresponding tribal name is Zanthoxyleae Dumort. (Anal. Fam. Pl.: 45. 1829): Dumortier assigned the rank of tribe to Jussieu's unranked name."

One final caution:  although Kristina Lemson refers to a family "previously recognized by Brown 1810", she does not tell us the particular group or groups of genera that have stimulated the question -- Robert Brown is the author of many family names, including the important southern hemisphere Epacridaceae and Restionaceae.  Nomenclature questions are dangerous in the abstract; I picked up a volume of Roemer & Schultes today, opened it more or less at random, and found that, within a group of genera called "Asperifoliae", he has a "Fam." Boraginearum.  Each case needs to be looked at individually, but the general principles are those outlined above.

John McNeill

John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum;
    Honorary Associate ,Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Mailing address:  Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland, U.K.
Telephone:    +44-131-248-2912;  fax: +44-131-248-2901
Home office:  +44-162-088-0651;  fax: +44-162-088-0342
e-mail: jmcneill at rbge.org.uk (johnm at rom.on.ca is also read)

>>> Kristina Lemson <k.lemson at ECU.EDU.AU> 09/11/02 22:17 PM >>>
Hi all

After some interesting discussion in the tea room, several of my
colleagues and I are seeking other's opinions on the following

Are names of groups of genera with the ending -(i)eae that were
published in Roemer and Schultes' edition of Syst. Veg. considered to be
valid equivalents of subfamily names for the purposes of priority?

The two view at present are 1) Yes, they do and 2) No they don't,
because the authors didn't recognise the family (previosuly published by
Brown 1810)


Dr. Kristina Lemson
School of Natural Sciences
Edith Cowan University
100 Joondalup Drive
Joondalup, Western Australia 6027

Ph +61 8 9400 5369
Fax +61 8 9400 5509

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