En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Clarification for botanical (Latin) names for Herbertia

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 17, 2010

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Plant Identification
Title: Clarification for botanical (Latin) names for Herbertia
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am looking for a clarification of scientific names. In the classic wildflower book 'Wildflowers of Texas' the author, Geyata Ajilvsgi, attributes the plant Herbertia with the name Alophia drummondii, but your database and a few other internet sources give the plant Purple Pleat-Leaf this name. Ajilvsgi gives Purple Pleat-leaf the name Eustylis purpurea. Which is correct? and what is the correct scientific name for Herbertia?

ANSWER:

First of all, there is no official authority for common names of plants. They can, and do, vary from region to region, culture to culture and language to language.  However, the Latin or botanical name is meant to be the same and recognized everywhere—in any region and by any culture or language. Nevertheless, plant taxonimists, in their infinite wisdom, do often change the botanical names of plants.  Renaming them isn't done, no matter what we might think, simply to irritate us who have learned the former Latin name! There are a number of reasons for name changes, but most have to do with new evidence coming to light which necessitates name changes in order to be in compliance with The Code.  The Code is the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Vienna Code) adopted by the Seventeenth International Botanical Congress, Vienna, Austria, July 2005 and published in 2006.  The Code is available online and is the official document containing the rules governing the naming or renaming of plants.   

For valid botanical names in the United States one consults the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) database. 

ITIS shows five unaccepted synonyms for the accepted Alophia drummondii (propeller flower).  These synonyms are:  Cypella drummondii, Eustylis purpurea, Herbertia drummondii, Nemastylis purpurea, and Tigridia purpurea.  In our Native Plant Database we show three common names—propeller plant, purple pleat-leaf and pinewoods lily.

Herbertia lahue is the accepted name listed by ITIS for Herbertia lahue (prairienymph).  There are no synonyms listed for this species.  In our Native Plant Database we show two common names—prairienymph and herbertia.  But then there is Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea (prairienymph) with five unaccepted synonyms listed: Alophia drummondii, Herbertia caerulea, Trifurcia caerulea, Trifurcia lahue ssp. caerulea.

We can see how you could be confused!  You can read the accounts from Flora of North America for Alophia drummondii,  and Herbertia lahue which give us some insights into the confusion about the two names and gives us detailed descriptions of the two species. The explanation under the entry, Herbertia, says that the two names have been confused because of "an erroneous interpretation of the identity of the type species of Alophia (P. Goldblatt 1975)."

 

From the Image Gallery


Propeller flower
Alophia drummondii

Prairie nymph
Herbertia lahue

More General Botany Questions

Grafting stone fruit
April 02, 2009 - Do you know of anyone grafting the new low chill stone fruit trees to the Mexican plum to minimize cotton rot? Or would it even work?
view the full question and answer

Pure white primroses (Oenothera speciosa)
May 13, 2008 - Hello MS. Smarty Plants! I have wildflowers instead of grass in my backyard (mow once a year and it's spectacularly beautiful) and I noticed some pure white primroses (the rest are all pink or wi...
view the full question and answer

Blooms as far as the eye can see
March 06, 2008 - Why are some wildflowers capable of putting on spectacular sweeps of blooms "for as far as the eye can see" such as Indian paintbrush at Vail Pass in Colorado, or bluebonnets in the Texas hill count...
view the full question and answer

How are full sun, part sun, etc, defined?
April 08, 2014 - Hello, I have a question about sun requirements. Does saying something needs "full sun" mean a particular number of hours? Does it mean 6 or more hours / day? 8 or more? Is there an agreed upon n...
view the full question and answer

Spraying paint on White Pine tree trunks
October 31, 2011 - Is there a paint that is safe to spray on a tree trunk without damaging/killing the tree? We have White Pines that have ~16" spacing without limbs & would like to 'camouflage' the bare space. If pa...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center