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System of classification and nomenclature

Posted by allotrope 5a ON (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 19, 04 at 22:50

Ecobotanist brought up a subject that has been plaguing me lately. I would like to start a separate thread on this medussa like subject.

I wrote a database software for managing a herbrarium collection initially as an exercise and one of the very first problem was trying to agree on what system of classification/nomenclature to use. It was a very frustrating exercise.

Ecobotanist mentions that he uses Cronquist while I used a "customized" (read simplified) version for use with the classification of algae more specifically diatoms. Researchers all have their take on this subject and I would like to hear more about various approaches used by botanist. How do they affect (if at all) the horticultural world. Do horticultural societies use the same system of classification?

Cheers,

Lou


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Not sure if I can answer your question - but in the old days institutions would announce somewhere what source they used to name their collection. That way if there was any disagreement over a name you at least knew they didn't just make it up. I don't see this done much anymore.


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Lou ...

Plant collections are sometimes organized in the herbarium or the names are organized in books based on the system of nomenclature used by that herbarium or author ... maybe you alrady know this ... this means one must know the system to locate families for example ... as an alternative though you could simply classify your collection by alpabetical order ... myself I find it faster ... for example families from A to Z ect ...

Is this what you are asking ??

Still each plant should have a single current name ... although where to find it in a collection or book would be different depending on the system used ...

Good Day ....


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Hi Mohave Kid,
I think Shelley R has in a sense nailed my question, "is classification part of nomenclature". What is confusing me is that nomenclature systems do include an inherent form of classification. The classification indicates how they relate but there is no concensus on a standard method of classification. Doesn't botany (description of physical, ecology, culture, life cycles, etc of plants) require that we uniquely identify like species and does that not require classification? How can we describe a specimen if we can't even agree to a method of classification? Or is it an accepted practise not to dwell on anything higher then Family. However it is often difficult to identify beyond Family let alone Genus on many specimens such as grasses and blue greens (algae) and let's not mention insects.

So how can I find a common method of nomenclature/classification that can span multiple field of studies (algae vs orchids vs grasses vs trees)? What happens when I want to include invertabrates?


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

allotrope ...

You ask some good questions ...

There are indeed very good systems in place ... no not everyone agrees on everything ( thats science ..right ?? ) and things change over time. So you need to keep track of whats changing ... by reading the latest research ... looking at various text ect. if you want to get into that much detail ??

"is classification part of nomenclature". "

No ... not really they are different. The three areas of Plant taxonamy are Nomenclature .. Classification ... and Identification. The three work together true but are not the same ... when you find a plant unknown to you the fisrt step is to match it to a known plant ( Identification ) .. Second ... and this sounds strange .. you give the now known plant a name ( Nomenclature ) ... lastly you place the plant in a classification system.

"The classification indicates how they relate but there is no concensus on a standard method of classification"

Yeah there is agreement ... for the most part. Afterall there are millions of plants in the New York Botanical garden's herbaria ... they have to be organized somehow ??

"Doesn't botany (description of physical, ecology, culture, life cycles, etc of plants) require that we uniquely identify like species and does that not require classification?"

Yes and No ... we need to give each plant species one current name so we all are talking about the same plant .. this is the area of nomenclature and identification ... plant taxonamist have written rules on how to name plants ... every four years these rules are reviewed by a botanical congress and the results published for use by botanist worldwide. See ... relax ... there is order in all this craziness !!

However !! ... there can be multiple views as to what plant gets named what and a few variations on classification.

The Cactus family for example now has a formal committe that deals only with the nomenclature and classification issues related to cactus ! Very formal. Still there are some botanist ... many very serious amateurs that really know there cactus ... that simply do not agree with the cactus committe and more then one name stays in current use for a given plant .. and / or you may see the plants classified differently in different books. ( difficult and confusing BUT somewhat fun ... well sometimes and docuemented in various publications ?? )

Botanist can indeed differ on which organisms are related to which ... and even more so on the level of species it seems ... and they can also change their minds time and time again as new scientific research is completed ?? ...

However some ideas are better then others so those that make publication in major works and are accepted by the majority of botanist set the standard that becomes followed in other publications. All of this follows the rules of nomenclature.... ofcourse.

There is no reason you can't identify any plant on the earth to species ... not that it's easy mind you ... unless ofcourse it is unknown and you are the first one to describe it !!

In building your own collection you will identify and name your unknown plants ... you don't really need to worry about classification systems ... they are already being used in the books you are using to identify your unknown plants ... so just organize your plants as done in your floras that you use day to day ( make sure there scientific floras for your area )... many books today organize taxa by alphabetic order ... which is the way you should do it as well ... if you use a given classification system then taxa would be arranged in the order of that system ... so families in the same order would be grouped together and if you want to find Asteraceae you better know it's in the order Campanulatae rather then the A .. B .. C ... system where Asteraceae is in the index under A !!

There are ofcourse systems for other organisms and the same holds true more or less but it can take a lifetime to know plants ... nevermind insects .. birds ... fish ect !!!

I hope some of this helps ?? I have a headache !! I'm rusty need to get oiled or something. Please comment if you wish.

Good Day ....


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Thank you very much for the explanation. I think I'll let your new thread take over since it covers both my questions and Shelley's.

Cheers,

Lou


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

von Linne' classified sponges and animals ant there is still not complete acceptance of that. There are taxonomy atlases which show the sorting trait by trait. They also have synonyms. Rhododendrons (a family) are scaly leaved (Lepidote)or plain (Elepidote). Then another trait may seperate one into sections another that section into subsection, then genera, species and variants or subspecies. In theory all members in a family could produce offspring geneticaly. There are mechanical or chemical properties which could prevent this. Many millenia ago (pre-Olmec) scientist crossed teosinte with Gama Grass and other species to produce Corn. This technology has been lost. All members of the grass family in thoeruy could be crossed. No other geass pollen can form a tube long enough to reach the kernal


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Hi
Being niether professional or even trained in this subject
I can't really add much to the subject but wasn't the original purpose to this system to have evey living thing
with only one universally accepted name without the barrier of language?? It seems remarable to me that after centuries of classification it's still as much a matter of opinion as on day one. The whole system is so flawed and full of exceptions as to be useless IMHO.
For example the very first one.Kingdom. Give me an exact definition of the difference between a plant an animal?? The errors are compounded down the list so when I arrive at specie.I don't have any more exact knowledge than when I started.lol
I think the true hope of this lies in cataloging DNA codes.(I know there are at least a million in a single cell)
but it results in incontovetable info. I've read some results on some early work on this and the results aren't too encouraging. Even the most obviously unrelated life forms have similar codes. So your back to spltting hairs.??
I remember reading a quotation from somebody Wallace or Darwin I think.
"God was very wise in choosing a carpenter to gather all the life forms on earth into one place. If he'd chosen a Taxonomist he'd still be drawing up the manifest!!lol
Gary


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Gary ...

"I can't really add much to the subject but wasn't the original purpose to this system to have evey living thing
with only one universally accepted name without the barrier of language?? "

Not quite sure where your coming from with all of this ...are you venting steam ?? ... but it's not a matter of "opinion" ... there is quite a bit of logic and analysis involved in our current classification of life ... there are also "rules" of nomenclature in different fields so it is not random ... certainly life is complex and much information is still being gathered and schools of thought change ... at one time early systems for plants alone numbered in the hundreds .. now more then 350 ,000 ... Thats not progress ???????????

Latin is chosen since it is a dead language ... so the meanings of it's current words will not change ... ofcourse thanks to our new education system ... no one remembers what the words mean anymore LOL ???

So again I'm not sure of your point ??

Good Day ....


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Hi
Please don't get me wrong!! I'm in noway in a position to critize any system lol. Nature seems to hate catagories so any system would have to be complex. So let me further explain.

1 Need a name Common names are generally useless for detailed info.??
2 The universal latin name is the only one to use??
3. I start down the list Kingdom Phylla ,family and so on.
4.I arrive at genus. Do I automaticly know that all members of the genus have much in common in fact so much as to exclude all members of the family?? In other words there are only minor differences between the specie within the genus??
5 Here are some of the families I've researched strictly from the point of view of gathering culture info.
The name is useful only as an ID.So I know that what I'm reading relates directly to the plant in question.
Johannesteijsmannia altifrons
Is that a mouthful or what ??lol
First the genus name. Even if I spoke fluent Latin I could not pronounce the name. The only Latin to it is the ia
and the roman alphabet. So after I figure out that this is a
Germanic language proper name.The dutch botanist who named it.I know nothing about the plant. In this case they violate the first rule The language is Latin?? Imagine the confusion if my first language was Chinese or Arabic?? lol
One great thing about the name.It could never be confused with any other thing on earth lol
There are many other examples of where I think the system led me astray but these are the ramblings of a gardener lol. I feel certain you're going to tell me that
I've been using the system wrong from the beginning lol
Gary


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Mohave, I think I see some of Gary's points. I agree that it IS a matter of opinion when we have classification systems by Cronquist, Dahlgren, Takhtajan, Thorne, and others, all of which are currently accepted. And they do disagree. Here's a quote from a review of Cronquist's book (http://www.sasb.org.au/Cronquist.html).

I shall never forget the spectacle of Cronquist and Thorne slugging it out at the International Botanical Congress in Sydney in 1981.

But they will all be history when The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group gets further along with its work which is based on a cladistic methodology.

And scientists can't even agree on the definition of species. (http://www.free-definition.com/Species.html)

I say why leave all these debates to the experts? We should all have some fun debating and disagreeing :-)

Shelley

Here is a link that might be useful: Flowering Plant Gateway


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Gardenweb won't let me post 2 consecutive responses!

Guess I shouldn't have so much to say this morning. lol I tried to post this message on the classification thread and couldn't. Interesting. Guess it's set up to keep people from submitting the same message twice. Anyway, here's what I tried to post.

Good morning Gary and all. Gary and I were posting at the same time, so my response is to his earlier message. It doesn't make a lot of sense in the order it made it to the forum. Also, I can see that I was off on another path (although I stand by my points). Now I've got to go to work. But first, I repeat, let's have fun with this! And we'll all learn something. I know that I sure have.
Shelley


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Learned something else

You can change the subject and keep your message in the same thread. I didn't know this before!

Have a good day everyone!

Shelley


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

  • Posted by Rosa 4-ish (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 4, 04 at 7:43

gary
you say..."feel certain you're going to tell me that
I've been using the system wrong from the beginning lol"

Yes, You are confusing the now dead language "latin" with the system on nomenclature and botanical classification. Although I say to you, "use the "latin" name". I'm really saying "use the accepted scientific name". May or may not have any bearing on "latin".

So....
1. yes because they are regonalized. They tell us nothing about the plant or it's realtionships, just that one person calls it x and one person in another region calls the same plant y. But can be useful in a cultural context. An older rancher I know has alot of names for plants. I am not going to change him by making him learn the scientific name so I must learn his names to get info I need. That is now our common language. At the same time I know his "Winding binding weed" is a Convovulous and that is what I will use for further research. He has no such need.

2. not exactly-the universal one is the one of the "rules" of nomenclature and the one accepted after much review by botanical experts (congras) and makes acceptance. The "latin" plant name may be on any origin and even be someones name.

4. all members of the family not in that genus, yes, resonably sure. But there are genera that have a large amount of species that may look very different to us in terms of color, leaf shape or growth form but taxonomically are very close. Remember that this system was not invented for the common person or the gardener. It was scientists bent on an organizational system for their and their collegues benefit to have common ground for discussion about the world around them.
5.
Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee)
Genus: Johannesteijsmannia (yo-han-es-teezsh-MAH-nee-uh)
Species: altifrons (AL-ti-fronz)
Aka Joey palm

Ok this is the best I can do at this hour and with only 1/2 cuppa in me, lol!!
Sure others will have lots to add and even some corrections.


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RE: early risers and posting at the same time

  • Posted by Rosa 4-ish (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 4, 04 at 7:45

Gee, I guess Shelly and I are the early risers this morning, lol!!


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Rosa
Thank you very much for that explanation I approached taxonomy from insects then to fish and then to birds. With these I could mostly ignore the system.But plants that's a whole new ballgame!!
I marvel everyday at how much info I can get from the computer.Except for the drawback I must have a name.But I don't even have to spell it right.My kind of learning!! lol
Gary


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Quote:
There is no reason you can't identify any plant on the earth to species ... not that it's easy mind you ... unless ofcourse it is unknown and you are the first one to describe it !!

That is totally and completely untrue. Nature doesn't always work in the tidy hierarchical sets and subsets that our brains employ, in fact it doesn't usually, and aside from the fact that constant reclassifications make naming haphazard at best, there is no completely agreed upon concept of a species.

If you mean that we can assign a name to an organism on earth, suuuure we can. I call this one "Henry", but scientific classification is rarely that simple.


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

catalina ...

I tend to disagree ... give me an exmple of an organism that can not be identified ...and named ??? By the way I never mentioned anything about classification in the quote above ...

Myself I can't think of any ... if you find a plant on earth it is either known to science or not ... if it is not you give it a name and classify it as you see fit ... will everyone agree maybe not ... that does not negate the process by any means ... this has been going in a modern sense for several hundred years ... thats why we have 250,000 or so flowering plants classified NOW and only a few hundred or so 2000 years ago ....

I have heard a lot here mentioned about multiple classification systems ... there have been many and there will be more as we learn more ... that does not mean botanical science is in a state of chaos by any stretch of the imagination ... known plants can be given a single current name providing one is aware of current research ... there may well be some authors that choose to use one classification system over another in their herbarium or publications but this is not to be taken as confusion but simply an alternative view ... Keep in mind there are many botanical works that were published in the past that are out of date ... for example the last three big works on the cactus family will demonstrate how cactus classification has changed over time ... and I'm glad it has since I would hope we learn more as time goes on not the same or less ... nevertheless one who knows Cactii can follow along and understand the changes ....

this is not a trivial subject ... I think some posters need to take more time and study if they wish to go beyond the standard weekend plant guide.... and it should be noted that GREAT andvancements in botany has been done by amateur botanist. GREAT andvancements in botany.

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature2

Shelley ...

"Mohave, I think I see some of Gary's points. I agree that it IS a matter of opinion when we have classification systems by Cronquist, Dahlgren, Takhtajan, Thorne, and others, all of which are currently accepted. And they do disagree. "

It's NOT a matter of "opinion" it's a matter of ideas supported by numerous scientific facts ... as we gather more facts from a wide range of scientific fields our ideas need to change .... THATS A LOT DIFFERENT THEN "OPINION" .... again none of this weakens our ability to identify .. name and classify plants ... there has never been a better time to understand plants then the present ...

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Mohave that's exactly what I said. I can classify and name any plant any which way I choose; that name will not necessarily have any scientific value or significance. I choose to rename this Pachypodium to Henry. Done! But that doesn't mean anything taxonomically.

Look at the Lithops genus. The taxonomy is so messy that Cole numbers are the best way to identify groups, that is, based on locality data. Does that make them species? No, it doesn't.

What I'm saying is that nomenclature gets at what the definition of a species is. If we name something as a species then we must first know what a species is.

Mohave I see your profile says that you're a biologist. What is your background in the field?


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Hello Catalina ...

I hope I'm not dealing with a geneticist LOL !!!!

My main interest is taxonamy of plants in the Mohave desert ...

"What I'm saying is that nomenclature gets at what the definition of a species is. If we name something as a species then we must first know what a species is. "

... and taxonamist do know what they mean by species when they name one ... are you claiming that all of the plants named as species and classified today have no real scientific value in understanding what a species is or how plant life evolved and other biological matters ?? We don't have to wait for evolutionary biologist to decide what a species is before taxonamist can classify ... name and identify species ... scientist are still studying gravity that does not mean we can't build bridges or send rockets into space until they are done with their research ... Right ??

Our current understanding of what a species is today is much more advanced then it was 2000 years ago and a vital part of this understanding has come from taxonamist collecting .. namimg and identifying species ... I'm glad they did not wait until they new "What is a species ?". In fact the entire theory of evolution that is so fundamental to biology was the result of taxanomic work involved with collecting species.

Believe me life goes on in science despite the fact that all the questions still exist. No doubt some taxa of plants are not well understood but many others are well understood ... Thats life and science ... your trying to understand something but it never stops moving ... you have to work with it on the run.

I would also suggest that a species often is what we want it to be ... nevertheless that does not put us in a state of chaos ...

Welcome by the way .. I see your are new.

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

"I choose to rename this Pachypodium to Henry. Done! But that doesn't mean anything taxonomically. "

Catalina ... you really don't believe this is the way taxonomy works do you ??? ... there are valid reasons why a taxonomist may name 10 species on a hillside and another taxonomist only 5 species lets say some time later .. it's not whimsical ... it's because scientific data from various areas of science supports the concept of 5 species better then 10 on that hillside per say.

There are times when names may be changed because an error was found in the way a name was given to a species ... there are rules for plant nomenclature and names must be valid and you can call a plant anything you want but that does not mean the botanical world will listen ... you need to make your case as any scientist would ... by providing facts to support your theorys.

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

New?! I've been on GW for three years!
But thanks for the welcome ;o)

I am well aware of the reasons for different nomenclatural status of species and genera, but what I'm saying, and what I keep saying, is that sure you can go out and name any species but that name doesn't always mean anything. Of course the earliest botanists were herbalists and doctors, which were one in the same, and they didn't give a carp about the definition of species, but if we are to attempt to name a species and have that name have any indication of phylogeny then there has to be evidence for cohesion within a group. With groups like Lithops there is way too much conflicting information. Do we go by morphology? Inter-fertility? Genetics? Habitat? Name it what you like, that won't change anything, and it won't change the fact that there may or may not be such thing as a "species" for that group, as well as for many others.

And I'm quite familiar with the evidence required to publish discovery of a new species or the fracturing of an existing group. I'm not quite sure what you're arguing. I can't really follow what you're saying, no offence.


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

Hi Mohave kid, wow this is turning out to be an interesting discussion that is basically following the conversations we were having in our botany classes back in uni days. That is when I started to understand that science is not exact. It is mearly the state of knowledge at a specific point in time. It is constantly in evolution refining the details but you state it much more eloquently

"and taxonamist do know what they mean by species when they name one"

That has always been a question of mine, what makes something a species says versus a genus or family? Do you have any recommended reading material that covers this? Much appreciated.


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

This is what I've been saying. There is not really a consistent reason for a group being a family or a genus, and the genus classification particularly has little scientific meaning.

It's based so much on the taxonomist's personal opinion and what evidence they believe is salient.

I'm going to go dig out all my literature on this stuff and give you some references to read, within the next week (pretty busy lately). :o)


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

"but if we are to attempt to name a species and have that name have any indication of phylogeny then there has to be evidence for cohesion within a group. "

Yes and there is a lot of evidence to support the cohesion of many taxonomic groups ... you keep pointing to the glass half empty .... ( Universities like to do that .. Iremember ... now LOL )

My original and only point from the very beginning of this thread is that our knowledge of taxonamy is good enough to identify any plant on the earth unless it is unknown to botanical science ... and once that plant is studied it too can be named and classified and it's phylogeny shown to the best of our current day knowledge ... a major goal of all of taxonamy ...

You barked at that statement ... remember ...said it was completely untrue ... frankly I find it quite amazing you can not grasp that LOL your getting lost in philosophy ...

You seem to think the world must stop until we answer the question "What is a species" ... my point we have been answering it for two thousand years ... thats why we have over 350,000 plants named and classified to show thier phylogeny the best as we can know it to be today... taxonamist were quite busy getting things done long before you or I went to college ... OFCOURSE there is more work to be done but we are better prepared today then we ever were before in botanical history.

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature3

allotrope ...

Check out from the Library ...

"The Cactus Family" by Anderson ... it is our most up to date single volume on the Cactus family ... it is easy to read and explains the recent classification of the family ... it gives you a good feel of why changes are made based on new evidence ...

"Taxonomy Of Vascular Plants" by Lawrence is a classic if you can find it ...

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

No no no no no no no no no no you're misunderstanding me, Mohave! And you're saying that I'm barking, which isn't very nice! Am I permitted to have a different opinion?!

I didn't say that we must STOP! What I said was that we most certainly identify them as best as we can, but we can't stop there and assume that that is the "ultimate" id, since a)that might not be possible with that "species", and b)it might be wrong! Of course a plant is either already known or already not known, that's pretty...simply obvious.

Taxonomists most definitely do not necessarily know what they mean by "species" when they decide one. And even if they do, they don't necessarily all agree, in which case the name doesn't indicate the same thing to the same person. You seem to have an excess of faith in the merit of semi-arbitrary delineations of relation. Like I keep saying over and over and over: of COURSE you can find a name for any plant that has been id'd, but it won't necessarily be correct and it won't necessarily mean anything.

Disagreeing with you doesn't make me stupid, Mohave. It means that I have a different opinion.


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

"Disagreeing with you doesn't make me stupid, Mohave. It means that I have a different opinion."

I never implied "stupidity" .... not by a long shot.

... but you do have a strong bias towards molecular data it seems LOL .??? ... and it is has been used in many of the taxa whose validity you question.... and more each day.

Good Day ...


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RE: System of classification and nomenclature

I don't have any bias toward molecular data. I haven't even mentioned it. Because of the various methods used and the debate between whether an organism is a species, a subspecies, a variety, a form, or whathaveyou, there are always reclassifications.

You're not listening to a word I'm saying and I don't like to repeat myself this many times, so I cordially give up before I go insane.

Good Day ...


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System of classification and nomenclature

I note that the HortiPlex Plant Database still contains the Family Asclepiadaceae per se. In trying to figure out how far behind I was with Family name changes, I began looking at lists here and there....... and comparing. I knew that the Compositae became Asteraceae, and then figured out that Labiatae had become Lamiaceae, and the Umbelliferae segued into Apiaceae, and then (oops!)the Milkweeds have taken up with the other sappy bunch.... Apocynaceae. Would someone check me on this, please.


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