ICBN interpretation please?

Nadia Talent nadia.talent at UTORONTO.CA
Wed Mar 15 08:41:32 CST 2006

Dear all,

During a discussion on sci.bio.botany, a disagreement has arisen
about how to interpret an article of the ICBN. I am accustomed to
assuming that the code is self-explanatory, and wonder if that is the
wrong way to approach it. Are there other published documents that
are needed for interpretation?

The discussion concerns a publication from 1889 that (as far as we
can tell without access to the original) uses formae as the only
infraspecific rank. These names are sometimes rendered as varieties,
and IPNI has them as vars, but TROPICOS shows them as formae. I
reasoned that IPNI is correct because the following article would apply:

>> ICBN Art 35.4. If in one whole publication (Art 35.5), prior to 1
>> January
>> 1890, only one infraspecific rank is admitted, it is considered to
>> be that
>> of variety unless this would be contrary to the author's
>> statements in the
>> same publication."

Another opinion (I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the author
wishes to remain anonymous) is:

> I am sorry, but that is not relevant. Art 35.4 is designed for
> those cases
> where the author does not indicate which rank he is using (as in the
> /Species plantarum/, where infraspecific taxa are marked by Greek
> letters
> alpha, beta, gamma: these names are taken to be varieties). If
> André did
> indicate that he regarded this as a forma, that is the end of it:
> thereby it
> is a forma. It does not matter if he used varietes as well or not.
> * * *

Thanks in advance for your help with this,
Nadia Talent
Nadia Talent
Department of Botany, University of Toronto,
25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, M5S 3B2, Canada
Also: Department of Natural History
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park West, Toronto, M5S 2C6

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