International code of botanical nomenclature

Steven Carpenter microbe at CSOS.ORST.EDU
Wed Aug 31 08:22:32 EST 1994

The international botanical congresses determine where they meet at
their meetings.  People who belong to the group are professional
biologists, usually taxonomic botanists (including mycologists, but NOT
including bacteriologists: they run a different set of naming

Determing which name to use depends on the conventions of the Code.
You can pick up a copy of the code at any university library, assuming
the university has a botany dept.  It is extraordinarily complex because
the rules are written with lots of "implied" intent that isn't readily
apparent to the uninitiated.  It is like a lawbook for naming plants.

When you name a plant you need to know:

1. Is the plant new to science?  If so, the list of rules is simple.
2. Is the plant not new to science, but has been placed in the
   "wrong" genus? (right or wrong is a scientific opinion).  If
   so, transferring the species to another genus requires a search
   of every plant name ever placed in the genus, to be sure that
   the species name hasn't been already used in that genus at some
   time in the past.  If it HAS been used, you have to give the
   species a new name, with direct reference to its original name.
   If the species is taken out of the genus at a later date and
   moved to another genus, the original name can be reused.
3. It is all much more complex than the examples I stated above.

I've named and described about 70 species, so I'm pretty well versed
in this.

-Steve Carpenter
 Abbey Lane Laboratory
 microbe at

dhaas at HUGO.FSUFAY.EDU wrote:
: Does anyone know anything about the International Botanical Congresses
: and code of botanical nomenclature? I know they meet every 6 years but where?
: Who belongs to the group? and how do they determine which names to use etc.

: Any info. would be appreciated

: Thanks, Dave

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