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May 19, 2018 11:12 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
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and who is it that is making these decisions?
Porkpal
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May 19, 2018 11:17 AM CST
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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plantladylin said:How does anyone keep up with so many changes and reversal of changes??? Blinking


Well, clearly we don't. lol
Keep going!
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May 19, 2018 11:18 AM CST
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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It's sure not me ... I don't like change! Green Grin!
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May 19, 2018 11:21 AM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
And as Tiffany said, it's peer review which adds weight to the proposed changes.

Re Baja's comment concerning more or less inclusive genera: I agree: no problem.
The issue is rather about over-reliance on the Catalogue of Life to settle all taxonomic and nomenclatural confusion.

Specifically, I have complained about the Catalogue of Life's inclusion of Primula x polyantha (or Polyanthus-Type Primula) within the taxon Primula acaulis subsp. acaulis. The former common and popular primula have a very long history within horticulture. They are frequently described as hybrids of three or even more different species (viz. "x"). I consequently have real trouble accepting their assignment not just to a single species, but even to a single subspecies within that species.

And for that matter, there's even published reason to suggest that Primula acaulis itself is a synonym of P. vulgaris and not vice-versa.
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May 19, 2018 12:01 PM CST
Salt Spring Island, BC (Zone 8b)
Region: Canadian Cut Flowers Dahlias Region: Pacific Northwest Keeper of Poultry Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Anyone can write a paper, propose a name change. Catalogue of Life is merely a repository for proposed changes. The name changes have not been accepted. The rule for nomenclature is that the name goes back to the first published description unless accepted changes by peer review. Stapelia will be Stapelia until recognized databases accept a Genus name change. It is a disservice to the members to go after proposed names. It would be smart to have a plant taxonomist review the use of Catalogue of Life as it applies to this site and plant entries.
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May 19, 2018 12:27 PM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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No, actually, not anyone can write a paper and change the names of several genera of plants. Peer review is required to make it happen. Unless you have a specific argument about the paper, that is something specific which makes it invalid, the acceptance has already happened, for all intents and purposes. Until the next change is made, of course.

If some person or group needs to accept the change, who would that be, specifically?
Last edited by Baja_Costero May 19, 2018 12:29 PM Icon for preview
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May 19, 2018 12:47 PM CST
Salt Spring Island, BC (Zone 8b)
Region: Canadian Cut Flowers Dahlias Region: Pacific Northwest Keeper of Poultry Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
http://www.theplantlist.org/ , RHS, IPNI, tropicos.org, GRIN, etc. Just because someone published a proposed name change, does not mean it is accepted. It is merely a proposal. The only site that has accepted the paper is Catalogue of Life. This needs to be reviewed by a plant taxonomist who has no ties to Catalogue of Life.
He who plants a garden plants happiness.
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May 19, 2018 1:25 PM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Online databases do not make plant taxonomy decisions like that, in the sense of having actual authority. Not from my point of view anyway. They lag the published literature, by years some times. That literature may be wrong, or need correcting through further publication (an erratum to the publication above appeared earlier this year). People are known to disagree with each other, and human error is a part of every aspect of taxonomy. But a published change like that is either right or wrong at the time it is published, as revealed by the chain of publications it's a part of (ongoing over time from different sources). It is the authority on the change until challenged or reversed.

My view would be different from yours: just because the databases are lagging (and they will eventually catch up, if past history is any guide), that doesn't make this publication invalid in any way. What would make it invalid is if there is a problem with the substance of the argument, the data or the conclusions. It's annoying when plants change names, but I did read the abstract pretty carefully and it sounds like the basis for the decision was fair, and not capricious. These knobby little succulents are not that easy to sort out. So we are now going back to a name coined by Linnaeus hundreds of years ago, but we can still call these plants stapeliads. Smiling You can of course continue to call them Stapelia or anything else you like, because I'm not an authority on anything.
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May 19, 2018 3:12 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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islander said:http://www.theplantlist.org/ , RHS, IPNI, tropicos.org, GRIN, etc. Just because someone published a proposed name change, does not mean it is accepted. It is merely a proposal. The only site that has accepted the paper is Catalogue of Life. This needs to be reviewed by a plant taxonomist who has no ties to Catalogue of Life.


Some of the entities you list are not taxonomic authorities. IPNI, for example, posts this important note on its home page:

"IMPORTANT: IPNI does not have information on what are currently accepted names and what are taxonomic (i.e. heterotypic) synonyms."

The four main taxonomic databases are The Plant List, ITIS, GRIN, and the Catalogue of Life. The Plant List was last updated in 2012 (five years before the publication of the paper in Baja's link), and even that update was largely a copy-and-paste operation. We stopped using The Plant List as a source early in 2013 when it became clear that much of its information was outdated or simply inaccurate from the start.

ITIS is limited geographically. It concentrates on plants in North America. It lists only two accepted Stapelia species, for example, and it also is rarely updated. Its latest reference for the two species is dated 2011.

GRIN also focuses on North American plants, and although it lists more species than ITIS for the Stapelia genus, its information is also outdated. I found one 2011 reference, but the rest are older.

The Catalogue of Life, in contrast, is not limited geographically and it is updated regularly. The latest general update was on March 28, 2018, and the latest taxonomic scrutiny of the former Stapelia species was in November 2017.
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May 19, 2018 4:13 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
Appreciate the information, Zuzu.
Interesting points all round.

This just reminds me that it's not a perfect world;
and I'm just so happy that it's not my responsibility to make and uphold the relevant decisions.

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