Sorting Conifers names

With the excitement and the renewed enthusiasm generated by our refurbished equipment in early 2010 - a landmark for the MMPND, I found myself in a situation reminiscent of the bamboo section humble beginnings (serious up-dating of that section due soon). The main difference is that today I don't have to create little gifs of foreign characters in order to dispaly words in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic etc. My great inspiration for the bamboos was Prof. D. Ohrnberger's 1999 publication "The Bamboos of the World". A similarly impressive equivalent mega reference for Conifers is Chris. J. Earle's Gymnosperm Database. I also appreciated Jean Louis Helardot's complementary work on Abies, Picea and Pinus. Only three genera covered but with equal or greater comprehensiveness and as great an attention to details.
As I did for bamboos, I will barely improve the taxonomic aspect of conifers, for it is already extremely well done, but I will bring a lot more vernacular hopefully with equal accuracy, for as much as this is possible with common names. I am going to enjoy working on this section for the best part of 2010, I hope that readers will equally appreciate the efforts.

We gratefully acknowledge the kind help of 
Dóra Jakobsdóttir of the Reykjavik Botanic Garden - Laugardalur - Reykjavik - Iceland, and the very comprehensive contribution of Eduard Parés, supported by the  IEC (Institut d’Estudis Catalans - Institute of Catalan Studies).

Indexes for all genera of the Conifer section

References for all genera of the Conifer section

uestions  & Answers

Botanical families of all genera

List of Genera

Abies (close to finished) *
Acmopyle  (close to finished)
Actinostrobus (close to finished)
Afrocarpus (close to finished)
Agathis (close to finished)
Amentotaxus  (close to finished)
Araucaria (close to finished)
Athrotaxis  (close to finished)
Austrocedrus (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Austrotaxus   (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Bracteocarpus (synonymic only)
Callitris  (advanced but still plenty of work)
Callitropsis (close to finished)
Calocedrus (close to finished)
Casuarina (not a conifer but started)
(close to done - 1 sp. only)
Cedrus (close to finished)
Cephalotaxus (close to finished)
Chamaecyparis    (advanced but still plenty of work)
Chrysolarix  (synonymic only)
Columbea   (synonymic only)
Corneria (synonymic only) 
Cryptomeria    (close to finished)
Cunninghamia    (close to finished)
× Cupressocyparis    (synonymic only)
× Cuprocyparis
Cyparissia (Euphorbia cyparissias L.  - Cypress spurge, not a conifer)
Dacrycarpus    (close to finished)
Dacrydium (advanced but still plenty of work)
Decussocarpus    (synonymic only)
Diselma (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Ducampopinus   (synonymic only)
Ephedra     (close to finished)
Falcatifolium    (work still to do)
Fitzroya (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Fokienia (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Frenela    (synonymic only)
Glyptostrobus (close to finished - 1 sp. only)
Gnetum    (work still to do)
  (close to finished)
Hesperocyparis   (synonymic only)
Hesperopeuce   (synonymic only)
× Hesperotsuga
Juniperus (advanced but still plenty of work)
Keteleeria    (close to finished)
Lagarostrobos  (close to finished - 1 sp. only)
Laricopsis    (synonymic only)
Leichhardtia   (synonymic only)
Libocedrus     (close to finished)
Manoao (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Margbensonia    (synonymic only)
Metadacrydium (synonymic only)
Microbiota (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Microcachrys (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Microstrobos  (synonymic only)
Nageia (close to finished)
Neocallitropsis (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Neocupressus (synonymic only)
Nothotsuga   (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Octoclinis     (synonymic only)
Papuacedrus (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Parasitaxus   (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Pherosphaera    (synonymic only)
Phyllocladus (close to finished)
Picea   (started but more work)
Pilgerodendron (close to done - 1 sp. only)
Pinus (close to finished)
Pachylepis   (synonymic only)
Platycladus   (synonymic only)
Podocarpus (started but still plenty of work)
Prumnopitys   (close to finished)
Pseudolarix (close to finished 1 sp. only)
Pseudotaxus (close to finished 1 sp. only)
Pseudotsuga (close to finished)
Putranjiva   (close to finished)
Retrophyllum     (close to finished)
Sabina  (synonymic only)
Saxegothaea   (close to finished 1 sp. only)
Sciadopitys (close to finished 1 sp. only)
Sequoia    (close to finished)
Sequoiadendron    (close to finished)
Sundacarpus   (close to finished)
Taiwania (advanced but still plenty of work)
Taxodium   (close to finished)
Taxus (close to finished)
Tetraclinis (close to finished - 1 sp. only)
Thuja   (close to finished)
Thujopsis (close to finished)
Torreya   (close to finished)
Tsuga   (close to finished)
Vinkiella    (new genus  - no data available)
Wellingtonia  (synonymic only)
Widdringtonia (close to finished)
Wollemia    (close to finished)
Xanthocyparis (close to finished)

* If one looks realistically at these lists, they will never be truely completed. If we consider them "close" to completion we estimate that we have done possibly 95% of what could be reasonably expected with the languages under consideration.

Indexes for all genera of the Conifer section

References for all genera of the Conifer section

By popular demand here is the family names of the above genera.

Abies    Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Acmopyle     Podocarpaceae
Actinostrobus    Cupressaceae
Afrocarpus      Podocarpaceae
Agathis       Araucariaceae
Amentotaxus  Taxaceae  or  Cephalotaxaceae
Araucaria      Araucariaceae
Arceuthos    Cupressaceae
Athrotaxis    Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Austrocedrus    Cupressaceae
Austrotaxus     Taxaceae
Belis   Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Biota   Cupressaceae
Bracteocarpus     Podocarpaceae
Callitropsis    Cupressaceae
Calocedrus    Cupressaceae
Casuarina   Casuarinaceae
Cedrus     Pinaceae or Abietaceae
Cephalotaxus   Taxaceae
Chamaecyparis      Cupressaceae
Chrysolarix    Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Columbea        Araucariaceae
Corneria     Podocarpaceae
Cryptomeria      Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Cunninghamia      Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
× Cupressocyparis     Cupressaceae
Cupressus    Cupressaceae
× Cuprocyparis    Cupressaceae
Dacrycarpus        Podocarpaceae
Dacrydium      Podocarpaceae
Dammara       Araucariaceae
Decussocarpus     Podocarpaceae
Diselma    Cupressaceae
Dombeya       Araucariaceae
Ducampopinus      Pinaceae
Ephedra     Ephedraceae
Eutacta      Araucariaceae
Eutassa         Araucariaceae
Falcatifolium     Podocarpaceae
Fitzroya    Cupressaceae
Fokienia    Cupressaceae
Frenela       Cupressaceae
Glyptostrobus    Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Gnetum    (work still to do)
Hesperocyparis     Cupressaceae
Hesperopeuce    Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
× Hesperotsuga      Pinaceae
Heyderia      Cupressaceae
Juniperus    Cupressaceae
Keteleeria     Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Lagarostrobos       Podocarpaceae
Laricopsis         Pinaceae
Larix    Pinaceae
Leichhardtia    Phyllanthaceae
Lepidothamnus     Podocarpaceae
Libocedrus       Cupressaceae
Manoao      Podocarpaceae
Margbensonia    Podocarpaceae
Metasequoia    Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Microbiota    Cupressaceae
Microcachrys      Podocarpaceae
Microstrobos       Podocarpaceae
Nageia      Podocarpaceae
Neocallitropsis    Cupressaceae
Neocupressus    Cupressaceae
Nothotaxus     Taxaceae
Nothotsuga       Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Octoclinis      Cupressaceae
Papuacedrus    Cupressaceae
Parasitaxus     Podocarpaceae
Pherosphaera     Podocarpaceae
Phyllocladus      Podocarpaceae
Picea     Pinaceae
Pilgerodendron    Cupressaceae
Pinus    Pinaceae
Platycladus    Cupressaceae
Podocarpus      Podocarpaceae
Prumnopitys      Podocarpaceae
Pseudolarix     Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Pseudotaxus   Taxaceae
Pseudotsuga     Pinaceae
Putranjiva    Putranjivaceae  or  Euphorbiaceae  or Phyllanthaceae
Retinispora      Cupressaceae
Retrophyllum      Podocarpaceae
Sabina     Cupressaceae
Saxegothaea       Podocarpaceae
Sciadopitys       Sciadopityaceae or Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Sequoia       Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Sequoiadendron       Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Stachycarpus     Podocarpaceae
Sundacarpus        Podocarpaceae
Taiwania    Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
×Taxodiomeria   Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Taxodium      Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Taxus   Taxaceae
Tetraclinis    Cupressaceae
Thuja      Cupressaceae
Thujopsis    Cupressaceae
Torreya   Taxaceae
Tsuga     Pinaceae or  Abietaceae
Tumion     Taxaceae
Vinkiella    (new genus  - no data available)
Wellingtonia      Cupressaceae  or  Taxodiaceae
Welwitschia     Welwitschiaceae
Widdringtonia    Cupressaceae
Wollemia          Araucariaceae
Xanthocyparis    Cupressaceae

Questions  & Answers

1. Why is there not an authority name at the end of  Taxus cuspidata Siebold & Zucc. var. cuspidata?
It's just a standard form, the authority name appears after the specific epithet but is not repeated at the end of the botanical name.

2.  What is the difference between  Abies beshanzuensis M. H. Wu  and Abies beshanzuensis M. H. Wu  var. beshanzuensis ?
The second name is the name of a typical specimen. This is not needed when there is no subspecific taxon. When there are varieties the type will be a var. x,  when there are subspecies the type is called subsp. x.

3. Why is there so few common / foreign names applied to "typical specimens" ?
It is rare (but not unheard of) to have names applied to a type that do not apply to the basic species as well. Generally we can assume that all names under the species can apply to the type. In the MMPND we simply avoid repeating those. Often names of varieties or subspecies are given to the basic species as well. This can be a mistake or the people calling the species by these names are not aware of the variations ie. the existence of varieties or subspecies. Finally, when one includes the names of synonyms, if immediate recognition of the match common-name-to-botanical-synonym cannot be established at first glance, some of those may appear strange. However in the absence of a name matching the preferred botanical name they can be adopted.

4. Can you explain why you suppress the first capital letter of some Latin names and why you capitalise the first letter of German epithets which should not be.

Taking the example of "tasmanische" in front of a name for argument sake, I agree that according to German convention the "t" should remain as such. Over the many years that we have transferred lists of names in and out of databases and manipulated names in all sorts of ways, such as sorting in tables, some computer programs have automatically transformed the first letter of all composed names into a capital. Since in most languages the rule is that the word starting a sentence has an initial capital, we have gone along with this including in the case of the romanised versions of all foreign-scripted words and German.

I don't know if there is a rule on the adoption of botanical Latin names into composed common names. This is not rare in the absence of any meaningful vernacular for a given specific plant. Our rule is that from the time the name becomes part of the vernacular it is subjected to the rules applied to normal words. For example within the genus Athrotaxis many languages lack a common name for most of the species. The French "Athrotaxis à feuilles lâches" or the English "Smooth athrotaxis" have been constructed for some species in need of accurate descriptive names. Some Latin languages push the transformation a little further as in the Spanish "Atrotaxis de hojas laxas". Whether the "h" is included or not if the word is in front it takes a capital letter, if not it does not.

It is likely that the purists won't like these explanations but at least one will know why we sometimes tolerate our own mistakes, for in the German cases and the transcription of some languages such as Tamil these applications of capital letters do not respect the accepted rules. It is less important in other languages such as Chinese or Japanese which do not have capital letters, although capitals in romaji may displease some people.

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Date created: 05 / 11 / 2009
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Last modified: 20 / 01 / 2011
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