After my previous little meltdown over trying to identify the accepted names of plants, I went for a walk and came back ready to bash my head against the botanical-name brick wall again. Then I discovered the complication that is the cultivar name…
Sites like The Plant List won’t return any results for a cultivar name, and if you add the cultivar name to the end of the genus and species name, they won’t return any results at all.
There’s no end to the complications! I had no idea, and if I had had any idea, I wouldn’t have started this. I seriously don’t care what these plants are called, it just bothers me that they’re given lots of wrong names all over the place – the same way it bothers me when people quote texts or sayings or whatever without checking the source for themselves. Eventually everyone ends up quoting each other instead of the original source and the actual text is wrong, or attributed to the wrong person. (Finding a misquote DRIVES ME CRAZY, to an extent that is so exaggerated it should embarrass me, but doesn’t. While out walking this afternoon I was trying to work out why I get so upset about these things – which in the scheme of things are obviously pretty trivial – but I couldn’t look around at the scenery and think at the same time, so I stopped thinking.)
So, now it’s not only misquotes that annoy me, its the misnaming of plants too. The stupid thing is that I don’t care what the accepted plant name is. I just think that if there is one, we should be using it. Because that’s its name. If it’s name is Aaa bbb, it shouldn’t be called Aaa zzz var. eeffgg. And if it was originally called Aaa bbb, but then some bright spark decided to reclassify the damn thing and most of the other bright sparks agreed, and the name changed so long ago that everybody should know about it by now, then there’s no excuse for still calling it Aaa bbb when its name is now Bbb ccc.
Having said all that, it’s really difficult to find out what the accepted name is. And apparently it’s even more difficult if the plant you’ve got is a cultivar (which according to my sketchy knowledge so far is just a specific sort of plant within a species that can be propagated so that the new plant is the same as the first… or something like that).
I’m wishing there was one site that could identify the correct name, including the cultivar name. I did a search for Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’ (which I know as a spider plant), where Chlorophytum is the genus name, comosum is the species, and Vittatum is the cultivar name.
I tried this search on a few different sites, hoping to find results which would list the cultivars too. I tried seven sites, but only one of them listed the cultivars: thank you, Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
But wait: that site doesn’t tell you if the names they’ve listed are the accepted ones. The results included four variations on the Vittatum theme:
– Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
– Chlorophytum comosum cv. ‘Vitatum'[sic]
– Chlorophytum comosum ‘vitatum'[sic]
– Chlorophytum comosum var. vittatum
Which one, if any, is the accepted (correct) name?
Good luck there, citizen! You’re on your own. You can go with the most popular option (the first one), but how do you know that most people know what they’re talking about?
I did find a link to a site which lists the institutions which keep records of cultivar names – which are apparently not the same institutions which keep records of genus and species names – but there was no source listed for the Chlorophytum genus.
So, there we go. I’m going to watch TV.