[Taxacom] Descriptive suprafamilial names of plants

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Mon Nov 25 11:06:00 CST 2013

From: "Jim L. Reveal" <jlr326 at cornell.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 2:41 PM

> Paul van Rijckevorsel, who knows the botanical Code exceedingly well,

Thank you, it always nice to get a compliment, especially
from a veteran.
* * *

> is correct that a typified name can be emended as long as the type is not
> changed. However, a name that has no type, but is characterized by a
> circumscription, is different when that circumscription is altered. Thus,
> the later use of a name with an altered/emended circumscription is not the
> same as originally proposed and therefore must, by definition, be a later
> homonym.

As pointed out earlier, a descriptive name is not defined /
characterized by a circumscription (that is, what is in the
taxon); this has explicitly been made impossible by Art. 36.1(d).
A descriptive name like, say, Coniferae, is applied to a taxon
by following the description, say, plants with a particular type
of cone. If, later, new plants with such cones are discovered
they may be included in the taxon without problem (and the
taxon gets bigger). If a new plant does not quite fit in, a
description may need to be slightly altered so that it does fit in.
And the taxon also gets bigger. For typified names, this happens
all the time and I see no reason why descriptive names would
be excepted (surely, it is hard to figure out how to exclude
the type of a name that does not have a type? See Art. 47).
* * *

> He also stated: "A descriptive name may be used unchanged at different
> ranks, and, just as names like Magnoliophyta, may be applied to a taxon
> that is defined however one may wish; no difference here."

> What Paul failed to point out is that a descriptive name, like Coniferae,
> does not itself change when it changes rank. One uses Coniferae, unaltered
> as to its spelling, at the rank of division, subdivision, class or
> subclass,

I said  "A descriptive name may be used unchanged at different
ranks," which in my book means that it "does not itself change
when it changes rank."
* * *

> whereas the name Magnoliophyta (division) is altered (by a change in
> termination) when assigned to a different rank (e.g., Magnoliopsida).

Strictly speaking, this is not true. Magnoliophyta can not
be assigned to a different rank. It is a name in its own right
with its own authorship and date, and Magnoliopsida
is a separate name, with again its own authorship and date,
as the maker of the most prominent website on suprageneric
names surely knows better than just about anyone :).


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