Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants/Archive4

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Archives for WP:PLANTS (Archive index) edit

Plant classification[edit]

Hi there, just got the editing bug and have found myself adding to plant articles. How should plant articles be named? From my background and education in this area I have always looked to the latin name first. Some articles for example the sweet pea has the latin name redirected to the common name. What is the general rule, should common names redirect to the latin named article as seems to be the case with many? Lynnathon 13:02, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

There seems to be no consensus here. My own opinion (shared by many other Wikipedians) is that having the common name(s) redirect to the scientific name is in the long run less problematic.--Curtis Clark 15:46, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree, how do we go about setting up a new guideline for this rule? Makes sense that it should be a firm rule that others can follow - will save a lot of confussion I would imagine. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lynnathon (talkcontribs) .
I completely agree. I think that the unofficial custom is to use common names only when the common names are commonly used (pig, sweet pea, etc.). This, however, causes a whole mess of problems mainly involving ambiguoisty. My personal inclination is in agreement with yours - use latin names and redirects for common names. I do agree that there should be some sort of semi-formalized guidelines. No guideline will work for everything, as many common names refer to multiple taxa and can therefore not have simple redirects, but rather require their own pages with links to specific taxa. --NoahElhardt 00:55, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps we should have a stab at setting up disambiguation pages with pictures where common names refer to multiple taxa. I am going to begin to rename articles according to their latin name and set up links/redirects for the common names. Lynnathon 18:59, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
I'd have to agree with NoahElhardt. After having a disagreement on the article title for Common Broom and realizing that naming conventions really can't apply to it some plant species (see Talk:Common Broom for details of that discussion), I feel the best course of action would be to divert most plant articles to their scientific names. Though perhaps we should also take a look at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna)#Article title for some guidance in this area? -Rkitko 02:39, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Latin is a useful compromise when there is no clear winner among English names. However, if you don't feel comfortable using the latin name throughout the article text, and fall back to using a common name, that's a sign that maybe the title shouldn't be in latin either. Stan 05:46, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Synonymy mix-up?[edit]

Can somebody look up Echinochloa crus-galli and Echinochloa crusgalli ? Circeus 18:08, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

The former is correct. I set the latter to redirect.--Curtis Clark 03:55, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
That's what I thought, but I couldn't set aside the slim possibility that they might both be somehow valid. Circeus 04:42, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Plant article naming conventions[edit]

Let the discussion begin!!! Alan Liefting 10:38, 25 May 2006 (UTC)


My comments:

  • The use of binomial nomenclature names makes Wikipedia inaccessable for the majority since categories will give lists of the scientific names and not the common name. See Category:Trees of New Zealand as an example.
    • This is a misuse of the category tag. It is possible to do, for example, [[Category:Flora of California|Coast live oak]] even if the article were Quercus agrifolia.
  • Use the binomial name if no common name exists.
  • If a plant is endemic the common name should be used.
    • Disagree. Many plants have only "constructed" common names, often a translation of the scientific name. These should never be used as article names unless the name is used in official lists, e.g. of endangered species.
  • If more than one common name exists for a plant the most common one is to be used.
    • See what happened with Cytisus scoparius. The most common name in western North America is a slur in Scotland.
  • Indigenous names, if not the same as the common name, should be redireted to the main article of the species as well as being noted in the article.
    • If it is an English indigenous name, it is the common name, for the purposes of Wikipedia. Non-English indigenous names should only be used (and only as redirects) if they are known in English usage.
  • If there is more than one common name only the commonly used common names should be redirected to the main article. Disused names should be noted in the plant article but not redirected unless notable.
    • Agree.
  • Pages that discuss plants in a genus should use the binomial name but a common name should be listed in the article as well. If there are numerous common names this rule does not apply. In this situation the article name would be the binomial name and all the common names mentioned in the article and/or redirected to it.
  • Plant names for invasive plant or introduced plant articles should be named after the name used in their country of origin. Names used in other parts of the plant's current range, where diffeent to the counrty of origin, should be redirected to the main article.
    • This is a prime example of the value of using a scientific name. Cytisus scoparius is a good example.

I think the category rules, although they too need to be addressed, are not germane to this discussion:

  • Cosmopolitan plants should not not be allocated to any category for a country's flora unless notable. This would clutter up the main article. An example is bracken which is found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • If a plant is found in less that about three countries it sould be included in the appropriate flora categories for those countries. If common names differ for the same species between the countries the appropriate redirect page for the common name should include the flora category. For example Wineberry (New Zealand) should be in Category:Trees of New Zealand rather than Aristotelia serrata.

--Curtis Clark 04:48, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Indigenous names[edit]

Here in New Zealand indegenous names and English names are sometimes used interchangeably. There has been a trend over the past 50 odd years towards using the indigenous names rather than the English names. My preference for article naming convention (which I have been using) is to:

  • use the most common name, regardless of whether it is English or Maori, for the article name.
  • redirect the alternative (English/Maori) name to the article.

I also include the alternative name in the article. Alan Liefting 10:08, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Endemic plants[edit]

Many plants have only "constructed" common names, often a translation of the scientific name.

Once again here in New Zealand we have many endemic plants with common names. The common names are generally Maori but they are used by Pakeha. Therefore we should remove English from your stategy that reads Plants that are restricted to a single region and that have only a single English common name in wide use in that region.

Alan Liefting 10:08, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Garden hybrids[edit]

Any thoughts on these? I've just renamed an article to Lilium "Stargazer". Other possibilities would include Stargazer Lily, Lilium 'Stargazer'. Imc 19:26, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Categories in redirect pages[edit]

I have placed categories within redirect pages. See Kotukutuku for example. It seems to work but I am unsure if it is recommended. It is a useful trick to get certain article names into a category. Alan Liefting 10:38, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I did that to a couple redirects today, but I'm worried that this will create a serious nightmare. See another discussion on this [here]. I'm worried that having every name for a plant (which often have numerous common names, and often competing scientific names as well) will simply make a huge mess out of the categories. SB Johnny 16:28, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
On second thought, maybe making the mess is what will move this issue foreward? SB Johnny 17:07, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
What I am proposing will not create a mess. Wikipedia must serve the specialist and the generalist. For plants this means using common names and scientific names. The Wikipedia:Category system can be used to categorise articles using scientific and common names. What needs to be done, and is not done for plant articles, is to place an appropriate category in the redirect page. The common name and the scientific name can then both be used for classifying plants in a parallel but interlinked manner. With a combination of categories in the redirect pages and the article pages a system of classification can be made as:
  • Flora by country using common names,
  • Order/family/genus categorisation using the scientific name.
Alan Liefting 11:45, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Ignore my comments above. It will not work as I envisaged. Alan Liefting 12:29, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
OK, I've been adding category tags to BN redirect pages. However, I've noticed that some tags are for families, others for orders, etc. If there is no category for the family, should I just create one? I think I remember somewhere that categories are supposed to be debated first, but if so, debated by whom? Also just trying to stick to the taxonomic categories rather than the "praxis" categories such as "flora of here or there", garden plants, or "invasive plants". SB Johnny 15:53, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

How to be botanically NPOV![edit]

If a plant is native to more than one counrty it may be advisable to use the binomial name as the main article and redirect all common names to it. An exception would be if it is notable in a global sense in one particular country. Alan Liefting 11:05, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I would say "native or naturalized" since invasive species are often given different names outside of their native range. -Rkitko 14:52, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Even within one country there may be numerous common names. Weedy plants in particular often have long lists of regional names. (In some old herbals, these are actually called "country names" (meaning rural, not national). The linnean structure was created in part to create a neutral language... shouldn't we try using it? SB Johnny 11:36, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
To some extent the Linnaean system has been a failure, in that even after 200+ years, nonscientists have only partly adopted it. Try talking about Bellis or Aquilegia, even in your neighborhood nursery, and you'll get a puzzled look and a search for the resident expert. Of course, plenty of other names are current - around here you'll always see Euonymus or Clematis rather than any English names. (As I mentioned above, the real litmus test is whether it seems reasonable to use the Linnean name throughout the article's running text, not just as title.) Stan 14:53, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes but your comment there definitely has a regional POV (no offense) :). Around here, everyone says Aquelegia... the puzzled looks would arise if you said "Columbine". I don't think Linnaeus really intended it for the use of non-scientists, so that's not really a failure. It's really that when people look up something on wiki, they're seeking knowledge about the thing, and an important part of that knowledge will be it's scientific name (which allows them to research further, etc.). As I've said elsewhere, it really doesn't matter much... as long as the end user gets to the information they're looking for, who cares what the name (ie. URL) of the page is? What naming the page using the scientific name does is allow the editors (you and me) to get around easier and make the articles better. SB Johnny 16:18, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Good point about regionalism! Actually, Linnaeus did intend for general use, because in his day science was largely an amateur part-time activity, and for instance it was not unusual for educated persons to engage in a bit of plant and animal collection while on trips and such. (He chose Latin because it was the usual second language of educated people.) Keep in mind that allowing editors to "get around easier" is very much a secondary mission, versus allowing general readers to get around easier - but in practice, I think most common names will end up being disambiguators, as people collect all the random names that have been used (fish people have it easy, they now have a multilingual database of common names used for each species). Just today I was in a confused conversation where "bird of paradise" meant completely different genera to the participants. Stan 19:03, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Some thoughts[edit]

I'd support putting all plants at scientific names, with the exception of important commercial species, which would have two pages, one at the scientific name discussing the botanical aspects of the plant and one at the common name discussing cultivation and use (some already do, e.g. Coffea arabica, coffee); the two pages would of course be cross-linked. This follows the example of the New RHS Dictionary of Gardening (a four-volume plant encyclopaedia).

Reasons -

  • I think mixing common names for some species and scientific names for others (particularly within in a genus, but also on general principle) looks very odd, and is very confusing. Yet of course almost every genus has at least some species with either no common name or else a confusing or unsuitable one. Giving every page the sci name title keeps everything neat and tidy.
  • Another big advantage for scientific name use is en:wiki's senior position among the wikipedias generally. Because of the dominant position of the English language, vastly more species have pages in en:wiki than in any other wiki. This I consider leaves us with a clear responsibility to others to make our work easy to find globally. When someone from e.g. Greece wants to find out about e.g. Juniperus oxycedrus and finds there is no Greek wiki page on it, en:wiki is the wiki they are most likely to turn to; a person in that position will almost certainly know the scientific name, but not the English common name.
  • As per SBJohnny's comments above (re Aquilegia), for most plants, the scientific names are as well-known or better known than 'common' names. If anyone doubts the ability of people to use and memorise scientific names, ask any dinosaur-interested 8-year old child to name a few dinosaurs: they'll all be scientific names, and very likely written without typos, too.
  • On indigenous names - most of these are not well known globally. To take Alan's New Zealand example, while I personally like the Maori names (they're much better than most of the Pakeha names for the same species!), to most people outside of NZ, they are unfamiliar. I'm pretty good on knowing diverse common names, but there's only 2 or 3 of the Maori names I can reliably remember what they are without looking up; one of these (Kauri) is the only one I would say is really well-known outside of NZ, and is so well-known that it now refers to the whole genus Agathis as well as the NZ species A. australis (so becomes a disambig page). But for the rest - outside of NZ, Libocedrus bidwillii is far more helpful than Pahautea (I just had to look up to check I got the right name!), and Podocarpus totara more so than Totara.
  • Also on indigenous names - several genera have very wide distributions, so indigenous names for different species derive from different languages. Seeing "Huililahuán" (Mapuche, Chile) and "Totara" (Maori, NZ) together on the same page gives no indication of what they are or that the two might be related; conversely, Podocarpus nubigenus and Podocarpus totara does (actually, they're so closely related as to be difficult to distinguish if planted together!).
  • Categories in redirect pages. That this is now possible (it used not to be) is very helpful; it means that every common name redirect (and disambig) could be put in one or more categories, to make categories like Category:Podocarp family common names, Category:New Zealand plants by Maori names, which common names can be looked up in. The Kotukutuku example shows how well it works. BTW, "It seems to work but I am unsure if it is recommended" - since it has been made to work, we may presume it is recommended, or at least permitted.

MPF 01:05, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

MPF's comments have caused me to rethink my belief that it would never be possible to use scientific names primarily. The separation of botanical articles from economic articles (as the coffee example above) will take time; at least two of them (black pepper and saffron) are featured articles, and it will take some consensus-building among their editors, but a similar split was made in Ephedra (even though the article on medicinal uses still refers to the generic name).
Indigenous names are at least straightforward in Aotearoa, but here in California we had linguistic diversity that rivaled the Caucasus and other noted linguistic patchworks. Only because most of the languages are sadly either extinct or ignored is there no longer an issue (we actually have more Nahua indigenous names in use for the California flora than local indigenous names).
I was unaware of categories of redirect pages. That changes everything, and removes another objection to listing all plants by their binomials.
I have revised my proposal on Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants.--Curtis Clark 03:56, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

MPF's comments on categories in redirect pages makes me realise that this can be a very powerful feature. WP can be loaded with every common name, binomial name, notable historic name and indigenous name and they can all be redirected appropriately and catagorised appropriately. Alan Liefting 10:15, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Working on a plant list... but maybe a category will be better?[edit]

Just started a List of plants with burrs, but I'm wondering if maybe this should be a cat instead? Maybe both? The categories of course make it easier to get to the other members from any page, but a list can be annotated. SB Johnny 16:29, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

There needs to be a Burr (botany). The current Burr is a disambiguation page. And a List of plants with burrs isn't very useful without a clear explanation of what a burr is.
And will we have a List of plants with samaras or a List of plants with berries? I can see a value to these, but they will be hard to maintain, and, like burrs, subject to botanical disagreement (a banana fits the definition of pepo, but since it isn't in the Cucurbitaceae, it is usually called a berry)--Curtis Clark 17:16, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
True enough. Actually, some of the plants I put on maybe aren't true burrs (or maybe they are, I don't know the strict definition in any case. Might be better to call it list of plants with seeds that stick to clothing or some other mouthful.
A list of plants with samaras, hard nuts, etc., might also be useful for the same reason, namely to function as a "key" for users wanting to look up a plant. SB Johnny 17:23, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Was just looking things over at Identification keys... curious to hear opinions on making keys on wp?SB Johnny 18:49, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
I can't help with the botanical issues, but I've come to think recently that a dual approach is best (list and category). In essence, I find that I tend to use categories from one article to find similar concepts (a bottom-up approach I guess), whilst lists I tend to use to find members of a similarity that I am already aware of (top-down). I think we need both for proper useful bidirectional referencing. — Estarriol talk 21:20, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Thinking about this again (while pulling burrs off my socks and dog), berhaps just a category "Plants with sticky seeds"? SB Johnny 12:39, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

As a heads up, I have merged and redirected the list to a new stub split from Burr: Burr (fruit). Circeus 01:05, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Botanist template: Edit request[edit]

Please see Template talk:Botanist if you know how to edit templates - thanks, MPF 00:15, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Canadian Dwarf Cornel?[edit]

Just a quick question--what sources use the term Canadian Dwarf Cornel for Cornus canadensis?? I have never seen this term used (except here). In Canada, all sources I've ever seen refer to it as "Canada bunchberry" or simply "bunchberry." Perhaps one (or both) are local vernacular names. Help in solving this question is greatly appreciated. --chris 19:45, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Sander's The Flower Garden (sixth edition, 1935), published in London, UK, gives the common name as "Dwarf Cornel". I suppose "Canadian" has been added to distinguish it from the Eurasian Dwarf Cornel Cornus suecica, not mentioned in the book.--Melburnian 09:54, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
It didn't take long with google to find plenty of pages showing that both C. canadensis and C. suecica are both sometimes called bunchberry, and both sometimes called dwarf cornel - not surprising, as the two are very similar to each other. They are both titled at their scientific names now - MPF 22:26, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
That works! --chris 16:42, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

A mess of tomatoes...[edit]

Pretty confused there: Lycopersicon (the old name for a few species of Solanum) currently redirects to Tomato (as in garden tomato, missing currant tomato, and leaving cherry tomato out of the loop). Probably will just go ahead and make Lycopersicon a disambig, then add redirects from the old species names. I'll also add categories to the redirects, following my sense of the conversation above.

My question is, why is the category "Solanales" rather than Solanaceae? Should I just create the category and re-tag members of the family to the new category? SB Johnny 12:22, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Oh I should add that there is at least one other old member of the genus... see this [USDA database page]. SB Johnny 12:23, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
The main reason that the article is in an order catis that, for the most part, plants were never broken down to the family levels. Part of the reason is that fewer plant articles exist than animal ones. Feel free to break these categories Circeus 12:56, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
Will do then. But what's the general feeling about putting category tags on redirects from now-defunct genera/species? SB Johnny 14:19, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
Probably not a good idea. If it is a legit genus, there's nothing saying you can'texpand it back into an article, though. Circeus 14:29, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
Something like this will be OK then? SB Johnny 14:41, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

I've made some edits to the Lycopersicon dab page to make it more precise.--Curtis Clark 15:00, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

New project, and a wikibook[edit]

First, just wanted to announce the Wikipedia:WikiProject_Horticulture_and_Gardening, which was started a while ago, but I was not aware of the Plants project at the time, so didn't announce it.

I've created a new wikibook called A Wikimanual of Gardening on our sister site, in the hopes of clearing up the "how-to" problems involved with many of the plant and garden pages. I will watch this book and try to keep on top of it, but help would be greatly appreciated. For information on transwiking to this book, please see the chapter Chapter on transwiking. The goal is to preserve "how-to" information from plant articles, while avoiding "dumping" of book fragments (wikibookians don't like that). SB Johnny 17:27, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Candidates for Featured Articles anyone?[edit]

Getting used to this. Trying to spruce up Banksia page Cas Liber 02:09, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

I've put a lot of work lately into Drosera, Pinguicula, and the recently completed Sarracenia. The page on Carnivorous plants is also looking pretty good, as is Nepenthes rajah (although this one is a bit long... might want to ask the authors what their plans are for this page, as it is continually being improved (minor changes, mostly)). --NoahElhardt 01:25, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Drosera is starting to look really good (might try to give constructive feedback there later) Cas Liber 21:14, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Really odd category needs cleanup...[edit]

Please see Category_talk:Caryophyllales (I forget how to link to the cat without having this page come up on it). There are genera listed as subcategories to the order, while families are listed as simple pages. I'll try to work on it, but it looks like a big job. SB Johnny 10:37, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

User:Brya RFC[edit]

You might want to know that a RFC has been opened regarding User:Brya's POVediting, MoS violation and general attitude at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Brya. Circeus 15:12, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Please help with a template![edit]

I'd like to create a "hortibox" template (similar to the taxobox) with information about growing conditions for cultivated plants (see comments here for details). I went to the template for the taxobox and found a warning saying it was quite complicated, so decided I'd better ask for help from more compitent hands. SB Johnny 16:14, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Range maps[edit]

I've found a large public domain repository of North American plant range maps from USGS [1]. These might be worth uploading, especially those plants with wide ranges. I've already uploaded and inserted some of the Abies range maps into the articles. SCHZMO 12:34, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Mislabelled trifolium?[edit]

Trifolium pratense?

I doubt this image's identification as Red clover, see commons:Trifolium pratense:

  • Flowers have pointy petals
  • Leaves are longer and much less round
  • Leaves are paler and lack the distinctive v-pattern of T. pratense

Circeus 03:36, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

It's Trifolium medium. I've corrected the ident on the pic at commons and removed it from the Red Clover page - MPF 21:51, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

User Box and other bits and bobs[edit]

Hi, I have created a User Box for WikiProject Plants. Please feel free to use it template:User WikiProject Plants.

Are there any objections to my adding this user box to our main project page?

I noticed that on our stub articles we have a standard plant stub template. What are your views on adding a link to this project that invites people to join as a few WikiProjects seem to do? Eg. The Mixed Martial Arts project see this article; Evan Tanner.

If you also look at the discussion page of talk:Evan Tanner you will see that they also have a project banner on the article. What are you views regarding this project doing soemthing similar? This would help to direct people to this WikiProject to either join and then help us make our articles better or to ask advice and guidance.

Thanks Lynnathon 09:53, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

  • In my recent experience, such stubs and banners are how most people find WikiProjects; certainly the membership of WP:MMA has roughly trebled in a few months since we created the stub and project banners. — Estarriol talk 10:08, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
  • I'd suggest a banner and link on the category page, Category:plant stubs, rather than on the stub template itself. As stub-tags appear in the main article space, it's preferable if they don't go mad with the amount of meta-information they include, and that they don't become too long, either. BTW, if anyone has any bright ideas on how to further split this rather large category, please fire away. Alai 00:48, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Plant infobox?[edit]

I've created a prototype of a "plant infobox" template at User:Schzmo/Infobox Plant. This may be useful as a quick reference to readers who only want to know general characteristics of some plant without having to read everything. I only know basic template syntax so it's pretty simple right now. This infobox would probably be most useful for trees and shrubs. SCHZMO 12:08, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Maybe combine that with this Horticulture infobox template? -- SB Johnny 12:48, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
(Sorry, see it here) SB Johnny 12:49, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't know, then we might have too much stuff in templates and that wouldn't look nice. SCHZMO 14:35, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
The {{taxobox}} is already present on almost all pages. This risk cluttering them unnecessarily. Circeus 14:43, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I worry about that too, though Schzmo's addition might be more poignant than the "hortobox" for general WP usage. SB Johnny 16:33, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I just now took a look at the plant infobox, and my impression is that it includes seemingly arbitrary parts of a full plant description. What about inflorescence type? Flower color? Habit? Leaf margin? It has the advantage of forcing descriptions to be parallel (something that is useful for species in a genus or genera in a family, but less so for species in a family), but for any given group it may leave out the most important features.--Curtis Clark 16:53, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

A proposed addition to naming conventions[edit]

If a plant has two or more common names that are equally common, then the scientific name is to be used.

For example, Trachycarpus fortunei has two common names that are in equally common usage; Chusan Palm which tends to be used in Britain, and (Chinese) Windmill Palm which tends to be used in the US. SCHZMO 15:29, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Since I'm in favor of using the scientific name in most cases, I obviously support this.--Curtis Clark 16:05, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
That would make sense. Circeus 16:10, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Taxobox for flowering plants[edit]

As promised, some suggestions for taxoboxes for plants. Although I am in greatly in favor of making sure that accurate information on taxonomic placement is provided I am not a big fan of taxoboxes. The two main disadvantages of taxoboxes are that they emphasize higher ranks (taxonomically completely uninteresting) and that they take up a large amount of space, which in some cases is disproportionate.

However when taxoboxes are used they should not be in conflict with basic wikipedia policies. This means that the taxonomy that it presents should be one that exists in the world out there, in a published work. The present taxoboxes claim to follow the APG II system 2003 but actually don't.

In the case of a classification such as genus Musa in family Musaceae in order Zingiberales in class Liliopsida in division Magnoliophyta in regnum Plantae: this is not an APG classification, but it does exist (e.g. as a Cronquist classification). It is more or less compatible with APG, in that a new classification based on APG groups can be published and that this new classification could use these names.
In the case of a classification such as genus Guaiacum in family Zygophyllaceae in order Zygophyllales in class Magnoliopsida in division Magnoliophyta: this is not only not-an-APG-classification but is incompatible with APG. There is no way that a new classification based on APG groups could be published which would use these names (unless Magnoliopsida are taken to be the angiosperms).

There appear two ways forward:

  1. actually follow APG II, or
  2. follow the update from the upcoming 3rd edition of the Plant-book by prof D.J.Mabberley.

APG II[edit]

The APG II system uses formal botanical names only for families and orders. Otherwise it uses informal names for clades. The clades are the main groups and are nested :

Depending into how much detail is desirable a taxobox could look like:

Guaiacum officinale
Guaiacum officinale - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-069.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae,
eurosids I
Family: Zygophyllaceae
Genus: Guaiacum
Binomial name
Guaiacum officinale

This means that components should be added to allow clades to be inserted into a taxobox. Also as such a taxobox will use both formal botanical names (according to the ICBN and informal names it would be good to use a form of typesetting to set them apart, for example either italicize the formal names or bold face the informal names, or both. It may be enough not to capitalize the informal names, but in such cases reduncacy helps.

The highest group that the APG recognizes is the "angiosperms", which results in a degree of uncertainty when fitting that group into a higher rank.


The update according to Mabberley will try and present a consensus of a much greater group of botanists. As the book has not yet been published exact details are not known. However according to a prepublication it will differ from strict APG II in that

  1. it will promote some families to be their own order Boraginales, Buxales, Vitales. This has already been done at the AP-website and the NCBI Browser
  2. it will replace names such as eurosids I, eurosids II, euasterids I, euasterids II by their more user friendly equivalents fabids, malvids, lamiids and campanulids (introduced by Bremer & al, 2002[?]). This too has already been done at the NCBI Taxonomy Browser.
  3. It will assign an old fashioned rank. In this case the rank of class will be assigned to the seed plants Spermatopsida (cf ToL, which also uses this name).
  4. it will recognize the ANITA group.

A taxobox could look like this

Guaiacum officinale
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Spermatopsida,
Order: Zygophyllales
Family: Zygophyllaceae
Genus: Guaiacum
Binomial name
Guaiacum officinale

[Leaving out divisio for the moment, this might be what Mabberley will use for the vascular plants, likely Tracheophyta]

The above examples give the species names only once, rather than twice as in the example taxoboxes on the project page. I can think of no reason why the species name should be echoed. Brya 17:11, 28 June 2006 (UTC)


  1. I agree that species names should not be echoed.
  2. I continue to disagree with Brya that only a published "top-to-bottom" classification counts as non-original-research. The type concept in botanical nomenclature assures continuity through the family level even when classifications are mixed, and even at the higher levels, where typification is not required, it still forms a framework. Nevertheless, I agree that a top-to-bottom classification provides a much better framework for an encyclopedia.
  3. Including informal clades in a taxobox is inappropriate, since they are not governed by a code of nomenclature (and even if Phylocode were further along, combining it with ICBN nomenclature is probably not a good idea). There is no basis to know from the term "eudicots" whether any given organism is included, whereas "Magnoliopsida" at least can be expected to include Magnolia, and "Magnoliaceae" definitely will.

I would support either switching to the Mabberley system, or else eliminating everything between regnum and familia in the taxobox (I'm not too happy about regnum, but it's nice to know it's a plant without having to recognize the green). The latter case could be justified by each family article already having a disussion of its taxonomy in different classifications.--Curtis Clark 18:36, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

  • I also agree about not echoing the species... actually, it might not even need to be both on the top and bottom of the box as in this example, unless the authorities can't appear at the top.
  • I like having the higher taxon there, as it seems a much neater way to place a plant than oing it "longhand" in the article text.
  • Still not fond of the italics in the higher taxon. SB Johnny 20:48, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
The top of the box can as easily contain a common name, if that is the name of the article. I agree about not italicizing higher taxa, mainly because I've spent several decades not doing it.--Curtis Clark 21:40, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, including informal clade names would indeed represent a breach with wikipedia tradition. On the other hand these informal names are true scientific names in that they do represent scientific insight. They are highly useful as labels (quite unambigous actually, for the moment at least, they may wear out). A name like Magnoliopsida can mean anything, and its meaning will vary from book to book. Clearly, it also is not true that a family name will include the genus for which it is named: Fabaceae has no genus Faba. Brya 17:31, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually, Fabaceae does have a genus Faba, it is a validly published name by Philip Miller, which just happens to be synonymised with Vicia in most modern classifications. If Vicia faba turned out not to be so closely related to other Vicia spp., then Faba could be resurrected as an accepted genus - MPF 22:46, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, Faba is not a genus, but a generic name, something else entirely. There are lots of names of families that are not based on a current genus, and some of them could never be used without drastic measures being taken. Conservation only enters into it when the generic name is illegitimate. Brya 14:53, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Conservation of family names happens for a lot of reasons. The point about the difference between txa and taxon names is a good one, but it seems to me that taxaboxes are as much about the names as they are the taxa.--Curtis Clark 17:23, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
As indicated earlier, I would be happy to drop anything above order, but then it is only a small extra step to dropping the taxobox entirely. It could be replaced by a colorful icon "flowering plant" (when no real picture is available), which would also be fine with me. Brya 17:31, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
  • The name Fabaceae is conserved (most family names are, as it turns out); the type is Vicia faba.
  • Two basic principle of nomenclature are that taxa have circumscription–scientific opinion establishes group membership–but that names are anchored to indivisual specimens–the type concept. Circumscription is determined by the classifier, but typification is governed by the rules of nomenclature. The informal clases of APG II are circumscribed, but they are not typified, since they are not part of a formal system of nomenclature. I can be confident that, no matter how differently two botanists circumscribe the Fabaceae, both circumscriptions will include Vicia faba. I have no such assurance for "euasterids I": the two circumscriptions might have no species in common. I'm not saying that Linnaean taxa are especially informative in regard to circumscription (they aren't), but informal clades lose the typification as well.--Curtis Clark 19:51, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
As a matter of principle this is true. However, names have a lifecycle as well, and for as long as rosids are new and shiny they are unambiguous, while Magnoliopsida is so worn out that it may mean anything (even although it will include Magnolia). Do remember that Magnolia virginiana, Magnolia, Magnolioideae, Magnoliaceae, Magnoliales, Magnoliidae, Magnoliopsida, Magnoliophyta (not to mention many more names) all have the same type, so indicating the type is not saying much. Brya 15:06, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Brya, I am astonished to find you arguing against the type concept, since it holds a much more important place in ICBN that italicizing higher taxon names. "Rosids" may be familiar, but they are in no sense unambiguous. It's important to distinguish familiarity from unambiguity (and circumscription from typification). I'll post in a bit about "original research" to expand upon this.--Curtis Clark 17:23, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
(unranked): Eudicots, Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: H. annuus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophyta
Class: Spermatopsida
(unranked): Angiosperms, Eudicots
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: H. annuus

Clade names aren't preferrable to ranked names, but in cases where the latter don't exist they can be helpful. If we put all the angiosperm and gymnosperm orders in a single class, it would be nice to have some indication of what subgroup they fit into, at least to the level of magnoliids-monocots-eudicots-etc. Those groups can be replaced with formal subclasses when botanists adopt them. In the mean time, there is a way to clearly mark them as unranked, as shown at right.

All taxonomy has controversies and all taxoboxes should be understood as typical, not definitive, classifications. I don't think the situation for angiosperms is so uniquely poor that nothing can be given above order, and in my experience that would only invite 'repair' by well-meaning editors. We just have to make sure that what we list is a good representative and discuss alternatives in the articles.

If Tracheophyta, Spermatopsida is likely to become a standard of sorts we should use it, although I still don't see what's so bad about Magnoliophyta, a meaningful and well-recognized group retained by things like AP-web. As for repeating species names, that was never strongly supported, but the species name should go in the placement section to parallel genera on genus pages, etc. It would be better to omit the binomial section.

Note I don't normally edit the plant articles, but I have used them for quick reference, so they are important to me. Anyways, would either of the taxoboxes shown be at least a step in the right direction? Josh

At last! Some formal proposals to get the taxoboxes sorted. My inclination would be to use the Mabberley classification as that looks likely to get widely accepted, though doing so would unfortunately impose a delay as we couldn't introduce it until the new edition is published (anyone know when it is due out?). I'd agree with Curtis that names in taxoboxes should preferably only be ranked names validly published under the ICBN; clades are not really suitable (least of all awful contrivances like 'eurosids', which looks like a group of people from Europe named Sid). Is Mabberley expected to include higher ranks above order? - presumably someone must be working out what old published names (there's plenty of them!) can be applied, e.g. the eudicots would presumably be assignable to class Rosopsida). Maybe they could be added later as and when the APG and/or other workers get them sussed. I would certainly find it useful to include higher ranks
The comments by Josh pretty much hit the target. APG does not use ranks above order, and for very good reasons. The point of a name is that it must help in communication, and be as unambiguous as possible. The new names now in use by APG serve this purpose admirably and will likely continue in use. Trying to force formal names (under the ICBN) into this would only create hopeless confusion and APG is very unlikely to ruin a good thing. The only thing that apparently is rather unpopular is eurosids I and its three brothers, which very much are an aquired taste and not user-friendly (a hyphen might have helped).
This of course is why Mabberley left well enough alone, and assigned Spermatopsida at the rank of class: this leaves everything used by APG intact. The only names he replaces are eurosids I and its three brothers, for which user friendly alternatives exist. The name Magnoliophyta was not a big problem, but it was not very helpful either (of course Magnoliopsida was utterly impossible).
The second taxobox by Josh is pretty much what Mabberley has in mind. Some practical points:
  1. No, I don't know when the book is going to be published. IIRC it is now two months overdue from its original publication date, but it is a pretty massive project.
  2. I does not look like a bot will be able do all this, as the taxoboxes would have to be sorted into new groups, and this may be practical for the bigger orders only. It is quite likely to be more efficient to do it manually for small groups of taxaboxes. Brya 15:33, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Until the new taxobox structure is agreed, I would say that all taxoboxes not matching the current style should be restored to the current style, even though that is wrong under APG, etc. This is important because changing to the new style will be done by a robot editor, and a robot editor will likely not pick up variant style boxes, or if it does, will not edit them correctly, leaving orphan lines, etc.
On dropping the line "Species: G. thingy", I'd agree this is a good idea, though for conformity before doing so, it should really be agreed with the other groups on WP:TOL (animals, fungi, etc), as having the line was introduced by consensus there. I'd suspect gaining a new agreement to remove it wouldn't be a big task, though (if I remember rightly, it was only added by a fairly small majority).
On italicising higher ranks, I don't have any very strong feelings either way, a weak preference for the traditional style (as it's what I've been brought up with) but I'm open to reasoning for change to all italics. What I do consider very important though, is that whatever we vote to do, we must all agree to abide by the results of that vote and be consistent across all plant pages; having different italicisation on different pages is confusing for readers and not good for wikipedia overall (which is why I have been so adamant in retaining the current status quo on a number of pages).
MPF 22:46, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the last comments by MPF. On the other hand, Brya has also raised good points. It is quite normal that he doesn’t like the present taxoboxes. First, they don’t fit with a cladistic tree. And secondly, they are sort of original research, as they don’t quite fit in the APG II-system. However, taxonomy is constantly changing. APG II is only an intermediate stage, as mentioned already by Brya. We must then ask ourselves, how does this discussion fit into the Wikipedia-concept ? Wikipedia is a encyclopedia, directed at the general reader and not at the hyperspecialist. Anyone with some botanical notions will be somewhat familiar with the Linnaean taxonomy, but eurosids et al. will sound totally unfamiliar to most. Therefore I propose to retain the system as it is : we continue using the taxoboxes in their present form (except for the species-template, but that’s another discussion). The cladistic view can easily be explained in the article under the heading ==Taxonomy==. This way, the general reader and the specialist will be satisfied. This whole discussion can then be raised again in a couple of years when taxonomists will hopefully have agreed on one final (?) system. MPF and Brya are both respected and valuable contributors. Let them shake (virtual) hands and let’s go on with our task. JoJan 14:05, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Indeed Wikipedia is intended to be an encyclopedia accessible to the general public. Whenever possible it should avoid unnecessary confusion. It is hard to imagine anything that would be as confusing as the present plant taxoboxes. Abolishing taxoboxes is preferable to maintaining them as they are now, just so as to stop them from causing confusion. Brya 15:41, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

German wikipedia[edit]

I just noticed that the German Wikipedia seems to have formal taxon names for clades (see Papaveraceae for example). Do any of you know what system they use? If not, I'll research it.--Curtis Clark 04:51, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

The taxonomy above the ordinal level is evidently from Sitte, Peter; Weiler, Elmar W.; Kadereit, Joachim W.; Bresinsky, Andreas; Körner, Christian: Strasburger - Lehrbuch der Botanik für Hochschulen. 35. Aufl. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8274-1010-X. The whole classification is here. It's still not clear where they got such names as Rosopsida, though.--Curtis Clark 04:51, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the German wikipedia is using formal names. Apparently it is an amalgamation of Strasburger / APG II / AP-Website. I have been looking for a copy of Strasburger to get exact details, but this is not a popular book around here. On the whole it looks to be original research as well, but I have not enough hard facts to ascertain how bad it is. Brya 15:13, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I find it interesting that you refer to a book by some of Germany's top plant systematists as "bad". I, too, don't have the book at hand, but my impression from looking at the German Wikipedia is that Strasburger provides formal names for most of the supraordinal clades in APG II. The Strasburger classification seems to be in wide use in non-Anglophone Europe; it should be noted, though, that APG lists Rosopsida as a synonym of Rosales, and Reveal uses it for a group that others might call a subclass. There was also a lengthy discussion about Rosopsida on the TOL talk page.--Curtis Clark 17:04, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Clearly I made no comment regarding Strasburger, a book I have not even seen. The German wikipedia is using a system which is put together from three different sources, one of them a website that changes from day to day. There is almost certainly original research involved, but as I said I cannot judge to what degree until I see more detail. Brya 16:09, 4 July 2006 (UTC)