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Re: An H by any other name would be called something else
Scott H. wrote:
"Given the multiple Scotts, multiple Hudsons, multiple Hs and now the
multiple Scott Hs, this could get as confusing as aquatic plant names.
It could actually become worse. Heck, I don't even remember what the
latin name is for me."
Well, scientific names aren't really "Latin" - they are "Latinized", and
they have to follow the rules of Latin grammar. The scientific name of any
plant is a binomial (i.e. 2 words), consisting of the Generic name, which is
always capitalized, and the species epithet, which is never capitalized
(except maybe in some part of Europe, so I've been told). Together, the
Genus name and the species epithet form the name for a species. In writing
or in print, you only have to write out the full Genus name the first time
you use it, after that it O.K. to use just the first letter - for example
"Vallisneria nana is an aquatic species which is found in Australia. V. nana
can has a number of distinct local varieties, each showing a slightly
different growth form and color".
If the plant being discussed is a subspecies of another species, it has a
trinomial name, consisting of the Genus name + the species epithet + the
infraspecific epithet. If the plant in question is a cultivar, the third
part of the name is put in 'quotation marks'. It is never proper to refer to
a plant using ONLY the species epithet, i.e. either Vallisneria nana or V.
nana is correct but "nana" all by its lonesome isn't kosher.
Latin is a sexist language - words can be masculine or feminine or neutral.
This is denoted by the ending of the word - for example, Latin words ending
in "a" are feminine. The endings of all parts of a Latin binomial or
trimonial must match, that is, they must be masculine, feminine or neutral,
they can never be mixed. In the case of Vallisneria nana, both the Genus
name and the species epithet are feminine because they both end in "a".
A proper scientific name isn't complete without the Authority following it.
This is the name (or an accepted abbreviation of the name) of the person who
first gave the plant the name. Vallisneria nana was first described by the
botanist Robert Brown, who lived from 1773 until 1858. The accepted
abbreviation of his name (for this purpose) is R.Br. and you can find his
name attached to many plants.
You will also sometimes see the Citation for the name given. This is the
referece to the book or journal where and when the original description was
first published. Going back to the example of V. nana, it was first
described in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae which was published on 27
Mar. 1810. The description appeared on page 345 of that book.
Putting it all together, the correct way to refer to the plant is as
Vallisneria nana R.Br.
If you wished to be _really_ complete, you could list the Citation following
the name as:
Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae (27 Mar. 1810) 345.
Now, go figure out what YOU would be called if you were a plant.....