Naming Species

Naming Species –  blech!

Salli Dahl or

Western Fuchsia Species Society

The names of species can be confusing and so annoying.  Many are difficult to pronounce and to spell.  Some seem downright impossible!

Trying to clarify the naming problem causes even more annoyance because today the classifications are published in scientific journals. They are hard to find and are written in some strange language I’ll call botanese.  When Dr. Philip Munz did his taxonomy (system of classification) in the 1940’s, AFS published it, and it was widely distributed.  His work was done during WWII, and he realized his limitations.  Today however , Dr. Paul Berry, Genus Fuchsia taxonomist, started his classification in the 1980’s and with modern means, has continued distinguishing one species from another and has made many necessary changes.  Published in scientific journals, his taxonomy is not easy to find, which is why confusion reigns.

Because of the many changes over the years, sometimes clear communication just falls apart.  The reader has no idea what fuchsia is being referred to.  Such is the case with some of the species listed in AFS’s Mite Resistant Fuchsia list in the Bulletin, January- March 2010.  Others just need minor corrections.  Both corrections are important if a grower wants these species that are resistant to damage from the mites.

“F. affinis fischeri” is one of the terms that mean nothing.  “Affinis” is an old name for F. regia subp. serrae.  “Fisheri” is an old name for F. mathewsii.  These two fuchsias are not even in the same group.  Since both are duplicated in this list, at least they’re covered.

Other very old names, that are no longer used, cause confusion: F. fisheri- mentioned above, serratifolie – a misspelling of serratifolia whose valid name is F. denticulata), waythowski– a misspelled version of woythowski whose valid name is F. rivularis subsp. rivularis), colinae- the encliandra hybrid ‘Colimae’? smithii – old name for F. petiolaris.

For some, the errors are minor and one would probably, hopefully, get the right plant: ayavaceneses- F. ayavacensis

campos portoi- F. camposportoi

mathewsiio & matthensii- F. mathewsii

simpliciauls – F. simplicicaulis (Put a hiccup in the middle.)

denticulate, decussate, excorticate- The Word program does not like -ata words. F. denticulata, decussata, and excorticata are correct.

F. exionensis- not a species at all. ‘Exionensis’ is correct.

Then there’s the encliandras-  microphylla and thymifolia may not be true species. Encliandras cross easily, and only two true species have been verified.  However, if someone has had these for a long time, it is possible that they are true species.  We’d like to hear from them. Minutaflora is an old name for any encliandra cross as is F. x bacillaris.

Spelling errors can make it appear to be more than one species:

genrigen- F. gehrigeri

jiminitzii, jumenezia/lyciodes-  yike.  F. jimenezii is correct.

 F. lycioides is an entirely different plant.

F. colensoi & F. x colensoe.  It’s a natural hybrid and is written F. x colensoi.

Then there are Dr. Berry’s other changes in the classification. The regias have 4 names; Dr. Berry divided them into subspecies:  F. regia subsp. regia; F. regia subsp. reitzii; F. regia subsp. F. regia subsp. serrae and F. regia “radicans” which to my knowledge hasn’t yet been assigned subspecies or varietal status.

The bolivianas also have changed:  There’s F. boliviana var. boliviana which has a short tube, ~2” long, F. boliviana var. luxurians with the long 3-4” tube and F. bolviana “alba” with the white tube.  F. boliviana var Argentina or Argentus  is invalid.  I don’t know what that might be.

In addition, the British Fuchsia Society (BFS) has two lists that are puzzling: the Hardies List and the Species List.  The lists include invalid and incorrect names for species, and it’s hard to understand why this happens.  BFS had Fuchsia Research International and has their Special Interest/species group with very knowledgeable members who can provide valid names and up-to-date information.  Since BFS bulletins go out to thousands all over the world, publishing it with invalid names endorses the errors.













This list has two problems other than those listed above:

1. Several are not species at all and yet are on the species list and written in species form with no capital letter.  (‘Aurea’, ‘Aurea. Var’ (a synonym for ‘Enstone’?)., ‘Conica’,  ‘Globosa’, ‘Gracilis’, ‘Longipedunculata’,’ Macrostema’, ‘Pumilla’, ‘Thompsonii’, ‘Tricolor’ , ‘Versicolor’…  Some are very old names (early 1800’s!) that were synonyms for F. magellanica.  Today those plants are not the same. ‘Globosa’ is pretty well accepted as the first recorded hybrid (ca. 1832).  They all have low pollen viability and are therefore hybrid.  I brought’ Conica’, ‘Globosa’, ‘Longipedunculata’, ‘Macrostema’, ‘Thompsonii’ home from England a few years ago and have pollen stained them all in addition to the ones with variegated leaves.  Low viability = hybrid. “Comber” is the only one I’m not acquainted with.  If it is from seeds from Chilé, it’s probably a true species.

If the word “magellanica” is desirable because it’s synonymous with “winter hardy” in some areas, then one could label this way:  Conica (F. x magellanica).  Understand that some of these hybrids are so old that there are no records of their parentage.  We believe that F.m. is in there.

2.  Some on this list use the designation “var.” for variant/variety, and yet Dr. Paul Berry has not published these names or given ‘var.’ status to these plants.  In fact, for F. magellanica he has said repeatedly, first in the late 1980’s and still today, that he does not recognize any varieties for this species. With F.m’s wide variation in structure over a large area, perhaps in the future a botanist/taxonomist will revise Genus Fuchsia and find that some do merit variant or subspecies status; but so far, it has not been done as far as we know.

Naming species is not something amateurs can do. They don’t have the training, education, testing facilities or status to do so. What amateurs can do, however, is add a ‘common name’ in quotation marks to distinguish among different forms of the same species.  For example, F. magellanica “alba” or “molinae” or “molina” distinguishes the light pink, color mutation of F. m. found in Chilé.  For F. boliviana, adding “alba” would make the same point

F. fulgens and F. procumbens are also invalid names here.  Each has only the one name on Berry’s list, no varieties. ‘Rubra Grandiflora’ is a hybrid, and the other fulgens names are not on Berry’s list.  He lists no varieties, and are these true species?  If they are, a common name, in quotation marks, would signal a difference in the plants.

Botanists distinguish between different acquisitions of the same species with accession numbers.  Some people who have collected seeds from the wild use their own accession numbers to distinguish those from different locations. The PNW’s  F. magellanica  from Chiléan seeds are labeled F. magellanica– SW 1 or 2, 3, 4.

BFS lists begin with a disclaimer: “It is not intended to be used as a botanical document”, but why use invalid and incorrect names at all and why accept these errors on a show list and the show bench?

Nomenclature has been a problem since the 1800’s, and it continues to be.  And there YOU are, buying the same plant over and over under its various invalid names and/or thinking you have a species when it’s another hybrid.  You can see that this only serves to confuse and frustrate new members, nursery owners, and fuchsia collectors.

I know.  All this causes one to hyperventilate, but it’s worth it if it solves even some of the problem.

If you want to see an updated list of species, contact the Western Fuchsia Species Society by email, and we’ll send on the most current list.  Keep in mind- taxonomy is an ever-changing process.