BEN # 117

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Thu Nov 2 12:54:26 EST 1995

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No. 117                              November 2, 1995

aceska at        Victoria, B.C.
 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

From: Dr. Brenda Callan <BCALLAN at PFC.Forestry.CA>

During  a fungal biodiversity workshop Oct. 15-19, 1995, at USDA
Headquarters in Beltsville, MD., a presentation  and  discussion
session  on herbarium curation was led by Dr. Quixan Wu from the
Field Museum in Chicago. Freeze-drying as a preservation  method
for   fungal  herbarium  specimens  was  discussed.  Mycologists
present at the workshop agreed that this technique was  unsatis-
factory for a number of reasons:

 1. Freeze-dried fungi retain their macroscopic features such as
    color  and  form for a few years, but are extremely fragile,
    and soon break into  small  unrecognizable  fragments  after
    normal use.

 2. Freeze-dried  fungal  tissue  disintegrates  and  loses both
    macroscopic and  microscopic  morphological  features  after

Conventional  drying methods (40 C in a drying oven) often cause
shrinking, and some discoloration and distortion of  macroscopic
features  of  fungi. However, the resulting specimens are struc-
turally stronger and thus less  likely  to  break  apart  during
subsequent  examination, and important key microscopic features,
such as spore morphology, remain constant and rehydrate  beauti-
fully  even  in  very  old  collections.  A conventionally-dried
fungus accompanied by good field notes is a far better long-term
investment than a freeze-dried collection.

Traditionally, fungal herbarium accessions  are  microscopically
examined  either  by  using  preserved  slides included with the
specimen, or by sectioning and  rehydrating  a  small  piece  of
tissue.  The  latter  technique  does not work with most freeze-
dried specimens, whose tissues collapse upon rehydration.

From: Dr. Stephan Helfer <S.Helfer at RBGE.ORG.UK>

For the past few years I have been working on the  taxonomy  and
floristics of rust fungi (and some powdery mildews). During this
work  it  has struck me how little co-operation there is between
higher plant collectors and plant pathologists.

Most botanists collect the cleanest specimens they can find, and
some pathologists only collect infected parts  of  host  plants,
making  it near impossible for the botanists to identify them to
any detail. Both sides are thereby losing out: the botanist,  as
many  biotrophic  parasites  are  very  host  specific,  and the
presence of e.g. a rust  can  help  with  the  identification  /
taxonomy  of  a plant; and the pathologist plainly because valu-
able information can not be provided.

I therefore propose that specimen collectors of both disciplines
keep  in  mind  the   interests   and   needs   of   the   other
discipline.They  can  thereby  help themselves and each other as
well as the community as a whole.

From: Jari Oksanen <jari at> (from bionet.plants)

Nordic scientists are perhaps the greatest  sinners  in  coining
"colloquial"  or  "vernacular"  names  which  are  used  only in
academic papers.  Special  committees  of  botanists  have  been
working  in  Finland  to  invent  names for macrofungi, lichens,
mosses, hepatics, etc. Similar efforts have been made in  Norway
and  Sweden  as  well.  These  lists  are  usually  regarded  as
authoritative, and if someone uses other names  (e.g.  genuinely
vernacular  or  colloquial names) the person is accused of using
"wrong" or "unofficial" names. Since the scientific community is
small and living in a compact  geographic  area,  the  "correct"
usage of national names can be controlled.

Personally,  I  find very difficult to understand why all plants
should have national names, especially when only a few people in
the whole country know those plants. When  you  write  "jauhepi-
karitorvijakala",     "karheatorvijakala"    or    "ruskopikari-
torvijakala", it is  guaranteed  that  nobody  understands  you.
Those people who know these organisms have to check in some name
list  that  they  are  Cladonia  chlorophaea, Cladonia grayi and
Cladonia pyxidata (I could not find a Finnish name for  Cladonia
merochlorophaea,  but  it  might  by something like "jyvapikari-
torvijakala"). Those people who don't  know  these  plants  (the
vast majority of Finns) won't know their Finnish names either.

One  of  the funniest cases I've met was an article in a Finnish
conservation magazine on Aphyllophorales. The article used  only
Finnish names. However, those Finnish names were invented by the
author  of  the  article,  and  had  not been published anywhere
(later they were published, I believe).  So  it  was  guaranteed
that  only  the  closest  friends  of the author could know what
these fungi were. However, the idea was that  a  general  reader
was  not disturbed by cumbersome Latin names - it was not impor-
tant that these names had no meaning to any reader.

In Finland the botany students still have  to  learn  the  Latin
names  (except  in  some  basic courses). However, it seems that
here in Norway only national names are taught to  students  (and
many  species  have  two  national  names:  one in both official
Norwegian languages). I've moved recently from Finland  to  Nor-
way,  and  I  think this is a problem when discussing with young
generation Norwegian botanists or students.

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