Talk:Juniperus virginiana

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common name[edit]

There's a discussion of the right common name(s) at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants. My response follows:

Well, trying to summarize/remember personal experience is hard (and probably not too relevant compared with checking sources), but I don't remember much hearing "cedar" without qualification (especially in contexts where it is clear which species is being discussed). I do often hear "redcedar" or "red cedar" (hard to tell the difference in speech), and rarely/never Eastern Juniper or Red Juniper. (Of course, my knowledge is mostly from naturalist types who tend to think it is relevant what genus the thing is in). The line between descriptive and prescriptive is a tough one, and very few field guides, floras, etc, have really been 100% on the descriptive side. For me, "redcedar" is a perfectly tolerable compromise (it is what the Peterson A Field Guide to Eastern Trees, ISBN 0-395-90455-2, adopts for example). The word "incorrect" strikes me as too much of a can of worms, but something like "many authorities prefer redcedar to red cedar as it is a juniper not a cedar" is much better because it says why the former might be preferred, not just giving an apparently arbitrary rule. In the edits so far, a wide variety of possible wordings have already been tried, so I'm sure that people will eventually find one which works, or lose interest in the game. Kingdon (talk) 16:21, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
In regard to personal experience vs checking sources:
  1. Place names are sources. It is not "Lone Redcedar Cemetery", it's "Lone Cedar Cemetery". There's Cedar City, Utah, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, both named for Juniperus osteosperma. I'm sure I can find plenty of other place names in the native range of J. virginianus.
  2. People who don't want to be considered hicks will avoid certain vernacular names, and so they don't find their way into botanical literature. In some cases, they might only be found in recounted folklore or anthropological literature. The absence of a vernacular name in a flora is not evidence that it is not used.
I have never said that I object to "redcedar" (although I do object to "Eastern Juniper", unless that's what it's called in Britain). The two things I object to are calling legitimate vernacular names "incorrect", and suppressing legitimate vernacular names. Both are subtle ways of telling certain groups of anglophones that they are not welcome at en.wikipedia.--Curtis Clark (talk) 16:50, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, I agree that recounted folklore or anthropological literature are good sources, although I haven't yet seen cites to published folklore or anthropological sources in this case. Place names are primary sources, and although not off-limits, should be used with some care, per Wikipedia:No original research (it is relatively easy to find a few examples, but harder to know whether they are representative, whether there are place names for other names too, whether usage has changed since those places were named, etc). I agree that "eastern juniper" is a strange choice as a primary name (in any capitalization) although conifers.org and the references cited there seem to justify listing it as one name among several. FNA just has "Eastern redcedar" (different from the situation for J. scopulorum where they list both "Rocky Mountain juniper" and "Rocky Mountain redcedar"). U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1650 A&B (main page) gives "eastern redcedar". The sylvics manual says "Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), also called red juniper or savin". As for how important any of this is, I can't get too excited about it and would tend to argue the importance is fairly low. But I suppose there's not much point in trying to convince anyone of that. Kingdon (talk) 17:37, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

This is what I placed on MPF's talk page:

Instead of getting into an edit war with you, I've asked for outside help with this article. What I can't quite figure out is why you are emphasizing as its common name "Eastern Juniper", a name which is virtually nonexistent here in its native range. "Red Cedar" (sometimes but nowhere near always qualified as "Eastern Red Cedar") is by far its most widely used name in common parlance, as well as in the nursery and woodworking trades. The only slightly different "Redcedar" has been appearing more frequently in floras, field guides, horticultural references, etc. but this purely invented name still has only limited acceptance.
But I'm especially puzzled as to why you cite Kelsey & Dayton 1942 as an authority in rejecting "Eastern Red Cedar" as a common name, while at the same time rejecting their recommendation of "Eastern Redcedar" as the standard name. If we're going for appropriate names, "Eastern Juniper" is an exceedingly poor choice as this is a large and widespread genus; qualifying one species as "eastern" isn't terribly informative. At least "Eastern Redcedar" is modifying a name used almost exclusively for a group of North American natives and thereby gives some context for just what this species is "east" of. (BTW I would appreciate it if you could point me to Kelsey & Dayton say that the name "Eastern Red Cedar" is "incorrect" or "should not be used", "as it is a juniper, not a cedar"; I can find no such comment in this publication, as they simply list "Eastern Redcedar" as a standard name without comment. Also please note that this publication does not have any kind of binding authority, was rather controversial and met with much criticism when it was first published, and has had only limited influence on the use of common names in North America.)

MrDarwin (talk) 16:30, 14 January 2008 (UTC)