Plant Database forum: Thinking on the names issues - synonyms, cultivar names, trade names, etc

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jun 28, 2012 10:25 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

We have had several threads about names for plants, usually centered around the question of synonyms and the validity or acceptability of the various names, as well as the question of cultivar names, or names that aren't registered (Trade names, et al).

For several weeks I have been contemplating the matter and I think I have the solution. I'd like to put out a proposal and see what you all think about it:

Right now, each plant in the database has:

1) A main latin name (genus and species).

2) An unlimited number of synonym names (genus and species).

3) A single trade name.

4) An unlimited number of cultivar names.

Now, the way we're doing #4 is actually working pretty well. One can add all the cultivar names for a plant, and then the name with the most thumbs is the one that is used for the main display name.

I'm thinking of doing the same thing with trade names and latin names.

So, envision it this way: each plant in the database contains:

1) An unlimited number of latin names. Each latin name can optionally be annotated with several things, including whether it is accepted, and the source that can verify its validity (itis, etc). The concept of "secondary" or "alternative" names go away. Instead, each plant has all its names listed one after the other. "Accepted" name(s) shows up first in the list.

2) Trade names would work in a similar fashion. I would think we would do the latin name migration first and then have a conversation about doing the same thing with trade names.

This would require a pretty big underlying change to the system of the database, but I think it ultimately would be well worth the effort it would take me.

Any thoughts on this?
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jun 28, 2012 1:41 PM CST

Plants Admin

The only thing that sounds wrong to me is the idea that the cultivar name with the most "thumbs-up" votes should be listed first. In the case of roses and clematises, for example, there can be many cultivar names, but there's only one exhibition name, which is the name currently used as the main one. I don't think member preferences for other cultivar names should supersede the accepted convention of listing the exhibition name as the main one. I think the database architecture currently ignores the thumbs-up votes for the cultuivar names of these two plants and gives pride of place to the main name chosen by the moderator. I hope that will remain the case.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 28, 2012 6:11 PM CST
I have a question:
In sempervivum we have been placing the correct name as the official name. The problem we have it that many times there are semps out there in the nurseries that have misspelling, shortened to one part of the name, or translated.

If some one types in the incorrect name we still want it to connect to the correctly named plant. Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum 'Bellott's Pourpre')

One is a translated name
One is has the name shortened
Two are misspelled.

How would/should we handle this?

I like what you are saying in:
1.
2.
3.
4. Not sure how we determine more than one cultivar name. For semps there should only be one that is correct.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 28, 2012 6:35 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Lynn, I think that would be solved by using the "Also sold as..." type of field. Where a name that is commonly used to sell this cultivar, but it's not a correct name, could at least be entered there for the benefit of identification and searching.

Zuzu, the moderators should ultimately have full power of over-riding any thumbs up or crowd-sourced decision. In any case where they do not, I can write the software to allow it.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 28, 2012 6:38 PM CST
So you would create a field 'Also sold as'? That would be wonderful and much more appropriate.
All of this is good to do now before the database gets any larger. Thumbs up
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 28, 2012 6:39 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That's part of the conversation there, yes. But the trade name / "Also sold as" names would be dealt with after we dealt with the latin name issue.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 28, 2012 6:41 PM CST
Got it.
I can see that is a big thing for the sedum, scientific names. Rolling my eyes.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Jun 29, 2012 5:15 PM CST

Plants Admin

dave said:
1) An unlimited number of latin names. Each latin name can optionally be annotated with several things, including whether it is accepted, and the source that can verify its validity (itis, etc). The concept of "secondary" or "alternative" names go away. Instead, each plant has all its names listed one after the other. "Accepted" name(s) shows up first in the list.


Dave, Re: latin names only:
Will typical "moderation" determine the first name in the list?
Will the way names are displayed at the top of the page change? In a search list?
Evan
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 29, 2012 5:20 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

eclayne said:Will typical "moderation" determine the first name in the list?


Under my proposal, whichever name is marked as "Accepted" becomes the first name in the list. And the moderators will/would determine that by way of approving the proposals that propose marking each latin name as synonym, accepted, unknown, etc.

Will the way names are displayed at the top of the page change? In a search list?


No, not at all.
[Last edited by dave - Jun 29, 2012 5:20 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jun 29, 2012 6:33 PM CST
Will this make the duplicate plant list unnecessary?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 29, 2012 7:14 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I don't see how it could, actually.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 29, 2012 7:58 PM CST

Plants Admin

That's a relief. Smiling Removing duplicates and listing synonyms is one of the first things I thought needed to be done for the plants I moderate (all pretty much done but the Eupatoriums). This change Dave is proposing should make the multiple names some plants have easier for people to understand and simpler to manage going forward. Perhaps less controversial as well?
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Jun 29, 2012 8:59 PM CST

Plants Admin

A few more questions Dave:
In the new scheme:
1. Will latin names be dealt with in the same way they are now? i.e., what is appropriate or not. What I'm getting at;
a.) The first name in the list is the currently accepted scientific name.
b.) All additional names are synonyms.
Evan
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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AlohaHoya
Jun 29, 2012 11:05 PM CST
You guys do know, don't you, that there is only ONE correct botanical name for anyplant...there may be clones, ssp. var. etc., but if the plant is published (and would be listed in IPNI) there would be NO controvery as to the latin name. Common names, on the other hand go all over the place....
It's all about choices.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 30, 2012 7:03 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

eclayne said: What I'm getting at;
a.) The first name in the list is the currently accepted scientific name.
b.) All additional names are synonyms.


Yes, that's correct.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Jun 30, 2012 10:55 AM CST
It's Carol. Hurray!
Hi Carol, I haven't seen you for such a long time. Smiling

Some of the sedum still seem to be up in the air on the correct scientific name.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
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zuzu
Jun 30, 2012 1:09 PM CST

Plants Admin

IPNI is not an infallible source, Carol. I looked up some names that I know are no longer relevant, but they're still listed on IPNI. Primula acaulis is listed, for instance, but other lists now say it's a synonym for P. vulgaris. IPNI doesn't seem as up-to-date as other lists.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Jun 30, 2012 1:11 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks Dave, Thumbs up
Evan
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
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KentPfeiffer
Jul 1, 2012 3:22 PM CST

Plants Admin

AlohaHoya said:You guys do know, don't you, that there is only ONE correct botanical name for anyplant...there may be clones, ssp. var. etc., but if the plant is published (and would be listed in IPNI) there would be NO controvery as to the latin name. Common names, on the other hand go all over the place....


That's the idea in principle, but reality is quite different. A few plants were given scientific names when they were first discovered and still have those names today. However, most have been reclassified (many times in some cases) over the years as more information was gained about them. It's an ongoing process.

It's important to understand that there is no overriding authority deciding what is the "correct" scientific name of a plant (although a few groups try to depict themselves as such). There are just taxonomists publishing papers that describe why plants should be reclassified. If enough of their colleagues agree, you'll see a change in name usage over time. But, it often involves controversy and not everyone will adopt the new names at once. Organizations like IPNI, ITIS, etc., simply try to represent the general consensus of taxonomists at the current moment.

Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Jul 2, 2012 3:53 PM CST

Plants Admin

I like the change Dave. Thumbs up Thumbs up

Smooth!
Evan
[Last edited by eclayne - Jul 2, 2012 3:56 PM (+)]
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