[Taxacom] endings in -fer and -ger

Jacques Melot jacques.melot at isholf.is
Tue Mar 4 16:51:22 CST 2008

  Le 3/03/08, à 13:54 +0100, nous recevions de Paul van Rijckevorsel :

>From: "Richard Zander" Richard.Zander at mobot.org
>>  Again, thanks to Richard Zander for allowing me to use his Taxacom
>>  account to post this question regarding Botanical Latin:
>>  In Latin there are endings -fer,-fera,-ferum, and -ger,-gera,-gerum,
>>  both meaning '-bearing' in Latin compounds. I see in my English
>>  dictionary that the comparable English ending is -ferous or -gerous.  I
>>  am seeing many species epithets in Latin in the masculine singular in
>>  -ferus and -gerus, after searching in the family Poaceae in the
>>  International Plant Names Index - these endings are perhaps mistaken
>>  applications of English endings to Latin ones.
>>  Since in Latin the -ferus and -gerus ending is not, as far as I can
>>  reference it, standard Latin, should these epithets be 'corrected' to
>>  -fer and -ger in the masculine singular?  Or has 'botanical usage'
>>  arisen to make -ferus and -gerus legitimate Latin endings in the
>>  masculine singular?
>>  Any assistance the readership may provide would be appreciated
>>  P. M. Eckel
>>  Patricia.eckel at mobot.org 
>I never thought about this, but some tentative notes:
>Merely asking the question is to suggest that 
>the usage is widespread. This can be confirmed 
>by some Googling. This shows it has been around 
>for a long time: Linnaeus published an Agaricus 
>umbelliferus (Sp.Pl. 1175). Also, it is not 
>limited to plant names, but is found in animal 
>names and medical terminology, as well.
>It appear to be useful to make a distinction 
>between names that started as new and those that 
>are combinations based on a basionym. Example:
>TROPICOS has an entry
>"Habracanthus florifer Leonard
>Annotation: as "floriferus", see Art. 60.11  "
>Nevertheless, Google gives 2870 hits for 
>"Habracanthus floriferus" and none for 
>"Habracanthus florifer". Note that if this 
>should be correctable, it would be through Art. 
>23.5 (for species) and/or 32.7 (32.5 in St.Louis 
>Code), not Art 60.11

[J. M.]   Je ne pense pas que s'appliquent ici 
les art. 23.5 ou 32.7 : il ne s'agit pas de 
terminaisons incorrectes du point de vue de la 
déclinaison, mais de variantes qui diffèrent par 
les dernière lettres (-fer, variante -ferus) : la 
question est de savoir si les adjectifs en -ferus 
sont acceptables (sous cette forme) ou doivent 
être considérés comme des fautes à rectifier.

    La réponse est sans doute non : il s'agit d'un 
usage attesté depuis longtemps en botanique.

    A titre d'exemple (mycologie), Linné publia un 
Agaricus umbelliferus (1753, Sp. pl., II, p. 
1175). Sur 59 auteurs ayant publié entre 1753 et 
1836, seul un rectifie en « umbellifer » (N. J. 
de Necker, 1768, Deliciae gallo-belgicae 
silvestres. Tomus 2, p. 544).

    Jacques Melot

   « Là où il n'y a pas de chemin et où les hommes 
passent, il y a un chemin. » (aphorisme chinois)

>A combination based on a basionym is Phedimus 
>floriferus (based on Sedum floriferum): the 
>TROPICOS page is similar; Google is only 171 
>versus 22. Very explicit is 
>So, it looks safe to state as a working 
>hypothesis that an original spelling in a new 
>name of -ferus (and -gerus) is not corrected. In 
>new combinations (involving a change of gender), 
>a correction to -fer (and -ger) is a different 
>matter, but is not unambiguously established.

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