Why are orchid names changing?

allymarie(zone 10, So. Fl.)March 17, 2014

I was just reading a post in this forum and a thought came to mind.Why are so many orchid names changing?

Allymarie

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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

I don't like it. Names are important especially for breeding and conservation. But changing the name is confusing at least. Sometimes I feel like the taxonomists are looking for something to do rather than adding value. Breeders are most dependent on taxonomists.

i expect on this question that some will jump in and aggressively defend taxonomists. And there can be a good argument for their work. I just feel a step or two removed from that world.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:48AM
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terpguy(7)

Blame the taxonomists. Most of the time the changes make no sense: I.e. Someone recently decided that all laelias were now cattleya.

Sometimes they do make some sense, like when some of the miniature phals were split off int o the genus Kingidium.

Taxonomists, and those that follow them, are often divided into two groups, lumpers and splitters.

Fortunately name changes are merely proposals by and for academics. Where it applies to your collection you can leave your tags as they are or change them. It does get a little more complicated by more widely accepted changes but it's not that big of a deal.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:45AM
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orchidnick

Lumpers and splitters is what it's all about. Dendrobium speciosum is made up of 6 (some say 7) main varieties. The splitters are continuously trying to split them into 14 or more. Dendrobium kingianum has a huge variation from 4" stems to over a foot long, from white to red and anything in between. Again the splitters have tried to separate them into who knows how many different genuses, no avail, Arthur will tell us more.

I knew Eric Christansen a highly respected taxonomist , whose passion was to find new items in the wild and to split existing ones into subgroups. This made sense to him. Some of the splitting makes no sense to most of the people I know.

Then there are splits that do make sense. in 1914, in the Garden Journal, a new Bulbophyllum was described and named Bulbo fletcherianum. It had 7 flowers and certain other characteristics. No one has ever seen a plant like that again however the name stuck and a Bulbo which usually has 25 to 40 flowers per inflo, has been and is today, called that. The first American award started a whirlwind as Garey, Hammer and Siegrist said this is not the plant described in 1914 and named it Bulbo spiesii. I got the next award thinking it was fletcherianum. Emily Siegrist shot that down and renamed my plant spiesii (Bulbophyllum spiesii 'Paul's Fragrance' AM/AOS) . Emly Siegrist seems to hate that name fletcherianum so much that in her comprehensive book on Bulbophyllum the name never appears. Neither in the glossary nor anywhere else is this stately plant's name mentioned.

I resisted that, started contacting Bulbo experts all over the world and found out that the rest of the world continued calling these plants fletcherianum but America and the AOS called them spiesii. David Banks of Australia had the best comment: "I don't care if it's different and I don't care if the Yanks call it Inglebert Humperdink, I'll always call it fletcherianum" he said.

After 10 years of back and forth, the AOS caved and this plant is now called fletcherianum worldwide. Even though I resisted the name change, in retrospect I think it was called for as the plant is different however tradition prevailed which I prefer.

It cuts both ways.

Nick

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:29PM
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lazy_gardens

They are running DNA profiles on them and classifying them based on genetic relationships rather than appearance.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:33PM
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allymarie(zone 10, So. Fl.)

Wow, very interesting! Thank you for your input.Now I'm wondering if names are changing for other plants as well or just orchids.

Allymarie

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:46PM
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terpguy(7)

Not as frequently as one would like, lazygardens. Hence the current lack of consensus. Phylogenetic analysis is insanely expensive and there's not much money in orchid research. A lot of this is still based on classical botanical techniques. It's slowing coming out but it'll be a long time before we get where we need to be.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:51PM
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terpguy(7)

Absolutely they are. Taxonomy is an ever changing beast. I happen to know that the family scrophulariaceae is often treated more like a dumping ground for some plants they can't quite classify. So as techniques improve that family will change.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:06PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

The real problem is the hybrid register with detailed recording of the ancestry of something like 100,000 registered hybrids.
For now if someone benches a plant with an old name (Synonym) I'll happily accept it when I prepare the monthly benching results for an orchid society meeting.
Some Genera names no longer exist. Examples: Burrageara, Potinara

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:44AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
interesting Nick did the AOS completely ignore the IBC??
lol I believe Kew is still in charge of records??
There were a whole bunch of changes at the last congress in 2012 From what I gather angiosperms were fairly left alone most significant were to non flowering such as mosses ferns and of course bacteria, virus fungi and of course algae. Another area was fossil and extinct genera
and interestingly to the original genome of angiosperms . They have split off into several groups due to many
discoveries of totally unknown plant /animal commenserals Mostly in very deep ocean and underground caves .
can't wait til they find extraterrestrial life . Imagine what it will do to taxonomy?? lol gary

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 12:43PM
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orchidnick

ET is already here. They are the taxonomists.

Nick

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 5:28PM
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