Botanical Nomenclature rules

Thomas Bjorkman Thomas_Bjorkman at
Tue Oct 11 11:43:57 EST 1994

There was some discussion on bionet.plants in the past year on how it is
decided what name a plant should have and how conflicts are resolved.  Two
main conclusions of that discussion is that there is an international body
that meets at International Botanical Congresses to hash things out, and
that the journal of record is Taxon.

I just recieved the final proceedings from the 15t IBC. In it Walter
Greuter reports on what happened at the 1993 meeting of the Nomencalture
Section.  The details of the actions taken are published in Taxon
42:907-922 (1993) and a transcript of all 8 sessions will be published in
Englera vol 14.

I found that some of Dr. Greuter's comments an interesting perspective for
the non-taxonomist.  
"..the meetings in Yokohama have not only been liberal in terms of numbers
of approved changes, but have in many respects been revolutionary in paving
the way for a new nomenclature fit to meet the demands of the 21st
"...the first All-Congress resolution [urges] plant taxonomists 'to avoid
displacing well established names for purely nomenclatural resons, whether
by change in their application or by ressurection of long-forgotten names'"
"It manifested a sweeping change of attitude as compared with past Section
meetings when even minor changes aimed at extending the conservation
options were either defeated or barely approved by the narrowers of margins
agter long and animated debates."
They strongly expressed a desire for nomenclatural clarity and stability.
They are developing a system for registration of names, to become mandatory
by 2000.  The registration systm is to be run by the International
Association for Plant Taxonomy.  One of the main purposes is to provide
ready access to complete and current records to all botanists, especially
those in the developing world.

As a non-taxonomist who needs to use the names, these changes look good.
Thomas Bjorkman    Dept. of Horticultural Sciences   Cornell University

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