[Taxacom] Use of "nomen invalidum" versus "nomen nudum" in botany

Kirkbride, Joseph H. KirkbrideJ at si.edu
Tue Sep 6 08:41:47 CDT 2016


There is a similar situation with many cultivated plants. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, cultivars were given scientific names, usually as infraspecific taxa, such as subspecies, varieties, forms, etc. Frequently the authors, mostly horticulturalists,  gave only a short description of the plant, just a few words, with the characters that the author felt distinguished them. These are often just two or three words. In the 19th Century, they usually described garden plants without preparing specimens. If these names were treated as nomina nuda, the scientific names for many common garden plants would not be valid. Taxonomists who do not work with cultivated plant names tend to consider many of these names as not valid, and the few taxonomists who routinely deal with cultivated plant names consider them to be valid.

After consulting the appropriate herbaria to locate collections of named cultivated plants, if there are no specimens, then the best course of action is to designate neotypes for the names. The neotypes should agree with plants now in cultivation, maintain current usage, and agree with the few words of description. Again, sometimes taxonomists who do not work with cultivated plants names, object to this on the grounds that there is not sufficient information. In my opinion, this is the best procedure because it stabilizes the names and maintains current usage in the horticultural world.

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr. 
Research Associate
Department of Botany
NMNH - MRC 166
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
USA
E-mail: kirkbridej at si.edu<mailto:kirkbridej at si.edu>
Mobile telephone: 1-301-602-6958
-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of David Campbell
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2016 9:19 AM
Cc: taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Use of "nomen invalidum" versus "nomen nudum" in botany

Although some authors often dismiss names judged to have unsatisfactory descriptions as nude, true zoological nomina nuda have no description at all.  Names with poor descriptions might be nomina dubia, or usable despite being badly described, but they are nomenclaturally valid for animals.  For example, Lymnaea bulla Benson has a detailed locality, but the only actual description is the word "fine" (mid-1800's).  Because we have no evidence as to what Benson thought might be a fine-looking pondsnail, this gives no description.  However, if he had mentioned anything about the shell, e.g., "brown", "small", etc. that would be a description.

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 8:08 PM, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Taxacomers,
>
> I am seeking some guidance as to the circumstances in which either 
> "nomen invalidum" or "nomen nudum" might preferably be used in botany. 
> In zoology, it is customary to use "nomen nudum" for names published 
> without e.g. an adequate description, desgnatioin of type species for a genus, and so on.
> In botany (for example many entries in Index Nominum Genericorum) the 
> standard wording appears to be "not validly published" (?=nomen 
> invalidum) which I interpret to coverr the same territory - or 
> possibly a superset of it. Does this mean that "nomen nudum" is not 
> really a term used in botany, even though it is included in the glossary to the botanical Code?
>
> Any advice appreciated,
>
> Regards - Tony
>
> Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia
> https://about.me/TonyRees
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--
Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Box 7270
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017
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