Holotype fragment (botany)

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Fri Jan 13 14:31:05 CST 2006

Richard Pyle wrote:

> Technically no, because the Code still allows for historical syntypes
> (multiple individuals) for existing names, though new names must be anchored
> to a single name-bearing type individual. But more to the point -- in
> zoology, there is no such thing as an Isotype.  If an individual organism
> designated as a name-bearing type is divided into multiple parts, the sum of
> those parts collectively represent the type.

The difference here is that the botanical code makes no reference to "individual
organism."  Rather, the type is a single element or specimen.  In the case of a
tree, the individual tree would not be the type (in fact, the code expressly
states that types "may not be living plants or cultures.");  the type would be
an element from that tree (e.g., a branch with flowers).  A single such element
is designated the holotype.  Any other elements, collected by the author at the
same time, become isotypes (the holotpe is the "one specimen" designated by the
author).  However, I'm not sure what we do with multiple collections by the
author from the same tree.  For example, the author of Quercus ellipsoidalis E.
J. Hill designated an herbarium sheet as the type, but the sheet had three
elements: a flowering branch, a branch with leaves only, and a branch with
leaves and acorns.  Each element was collected from the same tree at different
times of the year, but not the same year!  As I read the code, only one of these
three elements can be the actual holotype - that which was available to be used
in preparation of the protologue (two of the specimens were collected after the
species description was published).

Oh well, I've wandered off-subject.  I think this has been instructive and does
perhaps help explain differences in the two codes.


Dick J
Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen

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