Plant Database forum: Database question

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Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Apr 28, 2014 10:42 PM CST
Hi,
I was wondering why species entries are being handled differently for Sempervivum, Orostachys and a few other succulents, as compared to other species in the database?
Specifically, I notice that what are presumably photo locations (or possibly plant/seed collection sites?) are often noted in the species name, creating multiple entries for the same species.
By contrast, it looks like for other species, this information would be in the information details attached to the photo, and that all photos of the same species, regardless of location, would seemingly be posted to a single entry. (The exception would seem to be plants that could be formally distinguished as subspecies or varieties, which would then allow additional entries to be added for the same species.)
What's up with this? Confused
Thanks in advance,
Lori
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Apr 29, 2014 6:39 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Paging @valleylynn for answers. I never understood how those species names work in the Sempervivums.
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
Apr 29, 2014 7:06 AM CST
I'm on my way to work. Let me answer this when I get home. I don't want to give a short and incomplete answer.
Meanwhile let me have @banker07 and @JungleShadows help us with this topic. I will come back to this thread when I get home.
Name: Peter Dieckmann
Germany
Region: Europe Sempervivums Container Gardener Hibiscus Bee Lover Butterflies
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banker07
Apr 29, 2014 10:29 AM CST
valleylynn said:
Meanwhile let me have @banker07 and @JungleShadows help us with this topic.


I'm sorry - my english is not good enough to understand anything of the question..... Crying

maybe there is an example where I can "see" what the question is!?

I only work with the sempervivum-part; so I don't know how it works in any other database-sector;

Peter
[url=www.sempervivum-liste.de]www.sempervivum-liste.de[/url]
[url=www.hauswurze.de]www.hauswurze.de[/url]
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Apr 29, 2014 12:08 PM CST
Here are some examples (see the following) of plants of the same species apparently being given separate species entries based on plant location. There are many other examples of this among the Sempervivum, Jovibarba, and Orostachys.

In addition to the main entry for Sempervivum arachnoideum, here are additional ones that appear to be differentiated by plant provenance:
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Abruzzi)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Cascade de la Pisse)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Digne, France)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Kleine Scheidegg)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Martelltal )
Hen and Chick (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Mass Canigou)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Opitz)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Piz Cam )
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Sion)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Ustecchio)
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum from Val Minera)

There are plant photos posted to various of these entries, of what mainly appear to be garden plants. Should it be assumed that these plants (or seeds for them) were actually collected in the European areas indicated in the entries?

So, back to my question... I'm wondering why plants of the same species that occur in different area are given separate entries for these genera, unlike other species in this database. (For example, I don't think creating several separate species entries for Dryas octopetala based on the different mountan ranges where I might see them would be allowed, unless these plants were actually distinguished as separate subspecies, right? Even then, wouldn't the provenance data just be entered as a comment associated with the photo?)

There are also a few examples where the species entry shows the species name with synonyms in brackets, e.g. "Sempervivum ararchnoideum (bryoides)"
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum (bryoides))
Houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum (laggeri) )
Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum ciliosum subsp. ciliosum (borisii))

Again, I'm unclear on why species in these genera are handled differently in this database than other species.

Thank you for any enlightenment on this.
Lori


[Last edited by growitall - Apr 29, 2014 12:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Peter Dieckmann
Germany
Region: Europe Sempervivums Container Gardener Hibiscus Bee Lover Butterflies
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banker07
Apr 29, 2014 1:43 PM CST
Lori thanks for your explanation of the "problem";

sempervivum are a very variable species and for example the Sempervivum arachnoideum picked up in "Abruzzi" is different to another one picked up in "Cascade de la Pisse";

sempervivum-collecters really need this seperated entries so they can see where this plant has been picked up; the differences are changeless if you cultivate it at home and take offsets of them;

there are some "older" subspecies and varieties which have been consolidated by the botanists - but they have differences too; so we show the old classification in brackets;

Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum (laggeri) is not the same as Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum (moggridgei) or Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum (webbianum); same species and same subspecies - but different....

sometimes the differences are only little details - but the real "semperholic" knows them and want to differentiate;

Peter
[url=www.sempervivum-liste.de]www.sempervivum-liste.de[/url]
[url=www.hauswurze.de]www.hauswurze.de[/url]
Name: Ron
Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Region: Florida Hummingbirder Butterflies Bromeliad Tropicals Foliage Fan
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rattlebox
Apr 29, 2014 8:48 PM CST
I don't have anything important to add regarding the Sempervivum section of the database, but I can relate to the problem. Seems like overkill for those have one or two Sempervivums as part of their overall plant collection.

Lori, when you laid out the problem, I shared your frustration with the apparent inconsistency.

But then, Peter, when you explained your reasoning, I totally identified. Not with plants, but with tropical fish, specifically Killifish. These are small fish (generally 1½-2½"), with males often spectacularly colored.
http://www.killiadictos.com/milista/Fundulopanchax_avichang....
http://www.killiadictos.com/milista/diapteroncyanostictum.jp...
These photos are not photoshopped , and they are not breeder-developed color strains. This is how they look in the wild.

The types I'm referring to colonize small streams and pools. The same species, even the same subspecies, are often found in several different bodies of water in the same general area. But because they are reproductively isolated, each population has it's own look:
http://images.killi.net/n/NIG/Makurdi/.fgardnerinigmarkurdia...
http://images.killi.net/n/NIG/P82/.01-nigx.jpg.meta/
http://images.killi.net/n/NIG/Innidere/.00-0-Copr_2012_Antho...

As with the Sempervivums you mentioned above, each population breeds true to it's population. The location tag serves the same purpose as an official cultivar tag.

At one time someone was making a major push to drop the location tag attached to each population as having no scientific validity. These fish do not fit into the mainstream aquarium trade and are maintained by dedicated Killifish enthusiasts. They often maintain more than one population of the same species because they appreciate and respect the differences. What none of these enthusiasts want is for all these different populations to be lumped together as representing the same fish. They may technically, legally, genetically all be the same species, but they are certainly different and need to be boldly represented as such.

It seems Sempervivum enthusiasts are as fanatic as are Killifish enthusiasts.

So, regardless how the Sempervivum section is handled in the future, Peter I certainly understand your current stance.

Ron
[He] decided that if a few quiet beers wouldn't allow him to see things in a different light, then a few more probably would. - Terry Pratchett
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
Apr 29, 2014 9:44 PM CST
Well said Ron.

I grow some of these species, so yes many of the photos are in gardens, but not just mine. There would be no way to search for a specific arachnoideum if all were lumped into one entry, making it very difficult, if not impossible to find the particular arachnoideum you are looking for. The Sempervivum database here at ATP is set up for world wide usage, and is the recognized way of categorizing them. I can't even imagine how a specialized species of arachnoideum would ever be tracked down amongst thousands of photo within on entry.

Many are used in hybridizing according to their specific differences.
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Apr 29, 2014 10:53 PM CST
Thanks for the explanation. It is the explanation that I expected. I don't imagine it would be any surprise that aficionados of many genera (other than semps/orostachys/jovibarba, and killifish) feel the same way - ? Blinking Big Grin

I think it's completely appropriate that sites that are dedicated to semps/etc. would naturally want to catalogue the various forms of a species. However, my impression of this site has been that it prefers to follow the current nomenclatural standards, e.g. Catalogue of Life, wherever possible, and the current trend in these standards seems to be strongly towards "lumping", with various forms that were previously referred to as subspecies or varieties being subsumed into the next level up. Given that the site is not dedicated to particular genera - instead, it's a database of all species - I just don't get why the site would not be administered the same way for all genera, hence my question.

It doesn't frustrate me particularly if the decision is for this inconsistency to remain. I can certainly Iive with it. However, the following issue does concern me. For this provenance-based classification to be useful in this database, won't the administrators (or someone?) have to watch very carefully and ask a lot of questions about photos that people are posting to these entries, to make sure that the "generic" Sempervivum arachnoideum purchased at the big box store doesn't get posted to the "Sempervivum arachnoideum from Val Minera" entry?

This is why I asked the question earlier (which has not been answered): "There are plant photos posted to various of these entries, of what mainly appear to be garden plants. Should it be assumed that these plants (or seeds for them) were actually collected in the European areas indicated in the entries?"

Does someone actually monitor these entries to ensure that photos entered there are, at least, true to form (or, ideally, true both to form and to provenance)? It seems to me that if the entries for these careful classifications of form get corrupted by photos of plants that can't be traced back to any particular provenance, then it's counterproductive - not only would the info in this database not be accurate, but it would also be pumping out false information into the public record. (I note that the entry for this site comes up whenever I do a search on a plant species.)


Lori

Name: Peter Dieckmann
Germany
Region: Europe Sempervivums Container Gardener Hibiscus Bee Lover Butterflies
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banker07
Apr 30, 2014 1:03 AM CST
Hi Lori;

I think there is a bigger problem; there are a lot of wrong labeled plants sold by professional nurseries because they won't care enough about....

yes - we all try to take a serious look at every photo and try to find out all that wrong stuff; we can't promise that there are no photo of wrong labeled plants in the database; but we do our very best Big Grin

at the sempervivum-thread we occasionally discuss and monitor plants which seem to be wrong with all sempervivum-fans here at ATP;

Peter
[url=www.sempervivum-liste.de]www.sempervivum-liste.de[/url]
[url=www.hauswurze.de]www.hauswurze.de[/url]
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
Apr 30, 2014 7:18 AM CST
That is always a concern Lori, but not just with sempervivum, with all plants entered into the database. As Peter posted, there are many watching the newly entered photos. There have been many times we have had discussions on a particular photo on whether or not it is correct, species and hybrids.
We encourage our sempervivum collectors t0 buy from reputable sources, even then an occasional mistake can happen. The reputable nursery will do their own research and discontinue the incorrectly named plant, if it proves out to be incorrect. We all work together, sempervivum lovers here at ATP (from around the world) and the nurseries.

The original plants came from their natural habitats. The only acceptable way to reproduce them is through offsets (clones), not seed. Some of them are natural hybrids occurring if another population of sempervivum in close proximity, that is why only clones will produce true to the original plant. However most are in isolated populations. The species we have listed here in the database have been in collections for many decades and are the foundation of many new hybrids.

The European sempervivum community is very serious about documenting the history of the species sempervivum. You may already know about this site, but it has wonderful information.
http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=...
And Peter's site. http://sempervivum-liste.de/natur

It has been wonderful working with the serious collectors/hybridizers in Europe. Their knowledge on species and European hybrids is very helpful. We in turn work together on the U.S. hybrids to keep them correct in our database here at ATP.
It is an ongoing work, as it is in all plants here at ATP.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
May 13, 2014 6:19 PM CST
Hurray for "splitters" in every field.

When you really love a field, and pay close attention, nature always rewards us with more and more details to cherish.

Taxonomists seem not to love this kind of diversity!

Apparently the "groups" that used to be in use for discriminating among the thousand-and-one kinds of Brassica rapas weren't scientific enough for SOME scientists, although cooks certainly have no trouble distinguishing between turnips, Chinese cabbage and Tatsoi!

I suppose that if a naming system can't be nailed down tight and any "intermediate" types assigned unambiguously to one sub-group or the other, taxonomists would rather ignore the differences and have a "neat and tidy" system instead of a real-world-useful system. Grumble grumble!

Turnip- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Brassica rapa var. rapa (root and leaves) (sometimes Rapifera group
Chinese Cabbage - - - Brassica rapa (Pekinensis Group) once called celery cabbage
Broccoli Raab / Rapini - - - Brassica rapa (Ruvo Group)
Komatsuna - - - - - - - - - Brassica rapa (Perviridis Group) "Japanese Mustard Spinach"
Tatsoi - - - - - - -- - - - - - - Brassica rapa var. rosularis (Narinosa Group) once called B. Narinosa or B. rosularis
Mizuna - - - - - - - - - - - - Brassica rapa (Nipposinica group) "Japanese Mustard". medium spicy
Bok Choy - - - - - - - - - - Brassica rapa (Chinesis Group)

Choy Sum - - - - - - - - - Brassica rapa (Chinesis Group) small, delicate version of Bok Choy
Yu Choy Sum - - - - - - Brassica rapa (Chinesis or Parachinensis Group) specialized for the tender flowering tips:
Hon-Tsai-Tai - - - - - - a.k.a. B. rapa var parachinensis or B. rapa var purpurea / (Purpuraria Group)




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables
[Last edited by RickCorey - May 14, 2014 11:16 AM (+)]
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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
May 13, 2014 8:03 PM CST
Wow. Blinking
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 13, 2014 8:26 PM CST
A mess of turnip greens by any other name would boil up as sweet ...

Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
May 13, 2014 9:00 PM CST

Plants Admin

RickCorey said:

I suppose that if a naming system can't be nailed down tight and any "intermediate" types assigned unambiguously to one sub-group or the other, taxonomists would rather ignore the differences and have a "neat and tidy" system instead of a real-world-useful system. Grumble grumble!



That's not remotely close to the reason taxonomists do what they do. I often see comments from gardeners to the effect that taxonomists are engaged in some sort of conspiracy to make their lives difficult or they 'must not have anything better to do'. Almost no one gets paid to be a plant taxonomist, per se. For the most part, they are university professors, museum curators, etc. who have plenty of other duties, but work on taxonomy on the side because they have great interest in the plants in question.

The current round of "lumping" is primarily being driven by DNA testing, which has finally become inexpensive enough to be paid for with the paltry grants available for this type of work. What they are finding, in short, is that appearances can be deceiving. Plants that look rather different from each other sometimes turn out to be much more closely related than had been assumed. Hypothetically, some of your chinese cabbage cultivars might be more closely related to some bok choy cultivars than they are to other cultivars of chinese cabbage. In which case, you couldn't really argue that chinese cabbage is distinct from bok choy, regardless of appearance.

[Last edited by KentPfeiffer - May 13, 2014 9:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
May 14, 2014 8:32 AM CST
I find it rather fascinating how DNA testing is changing things up. The cabbage family noted by Rick is really impressive - what a diverse group of the same plant.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
May 14, 2014 11:56 AM CST
>> Hypothetically, some of your chinese cabbage cultivars might be more closely related to some bok choy cultivars than they are to other cultivars of chinese cabbage.

I didn't know that.

I think the same thing happened with bacteria, and THAT drives me crazy, too.

Bacterial species that looked similar, acted similarly, and metabolized similarly used to be grouped together (functional grouping, or 'appearance grouping' I guess).

Then DNA testing showed that many similar-seeming bacterial species had evolved "convergently" (I don't think they use that word) to function similarly in similar niches, but came from very different ancestry.

I guess taxonomy "has to" follow actual genetic lineage, since it intends to reflect ancestry.
At least, using that standard, there can be only one right answer, even if you have to use statistics to guess which one.

(When I went to school, decades ago, it was just presumed that "looks like a Rarobacteraceae and quacks like a Rarobacteraceae" meant that they probably all descended from similar Rarobacteraceae ancestry.)

Brassica naming by the "looks like / tastes like / grows like" system was always a mish-mash of different systems and opinions (but functionally convenient for growers and cooks). The system of "Groups" seemed to me to have made sense of the confusion, with just a little "leakage around edges" for things like loose-headed Chinese cabbage, appropriate to a natural system, and thought to indicate "older" cultivars for the jaywalkers.

Maybe I should stop grumbling and just accept that not everything in the world exists for my personal convenience. In the case of Brassicas, especially B. rapa and B. oleracea , and use common names for comon purposes, when taxonomists say (correctly from their perspective) that a Turnip is a Chinese cabbage is Broccoli Raab is Yu Choy Sum.

Instead I'll probably use the common names plus the no-longer-accepted Group names, because I like them and they have functional value, and come pretty close to being unambiguous. I admit that I draw the line at using an old and bogus "species name" like "B. chinensis" as Linnaeus did (for Bok Choy and Coy Sum), or "B. narinosa" for Tatsoi.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 14, 2014 12:02 PM CST
>> In which case, you couldn't really argue that chinese cabbage is distinct from bok choy, regardless of appearance.

Actually, because I care more about growing and eating than about DNA or even ancestry, yes i do argue that 95% of Chinese cabbage cultivars are very distinct from Bok Choy. The fact that their patters of DNA overlap is very interesting, but not as useful to a gardener as knowing which one is more likely to be frost-tolerant or prone to bolting the first year.

Try planting Chinese cabbage as early as you should plant Bok Choy, or randomly replace either with turnip greens or broccoli raab in a recipe!

The simpler layman definitions that I stumbled across online mostly didn't lean towards "grouping by ancestry", even for the specific meaning of "Taxonomy" as used in Biology.

Taxonomy (Biology)
"the science dealing with the description, identification, naming, and classification of organisms.

Taxonomy (Biology) - http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Taxonomy
(1) The science of finding, describing, classifying, and naming organisms, including the studying of the relationships between taxa and the principles underlying such a classification.

(2) The classification of organisms in a hierarchical system or in taxonomic ranks (e.g. domain, kingdom, phylum or division, class, genus, species) based on shared characteristics or on phylogenetic relationships inferred from the fossil record or established by genetic analysis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_%28biology%29
"Taxonomy ... is the science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups."

Taxonomy
"Not to be confused with taxidermy."

But I do see that more technical definitions and some "dictionary" definitions do focus on ancestry. And it makes sense that practicing scientists "have to" focus on things that can be measured and proved. "Natural relationships" based on % shared DNA can be less ambiguous or subject to opinion than "grows and tastes like a turnip".

Taxonomy http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taxonomy
" the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups"
" classification; especially : orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships"

Probably, for bacteria and Brassicas, there is a need for two kinds of classification: genetic/ancestral and functional.

But my all-time favorite explanation of taxonomy is "Not to be confused with taxidermy".
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
May 14, 2014 7:53 PM CST
RickCorey said:
But my all-time favorite explanation of taxonomy is "Not to be confused with taxidermy".


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