Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants/Archive61

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Acer buergerianum

Trident maples <> are listed as being in the Sapindacea family. However they are actually Aceraceae. Apologies, but I could not figure out how to edit the Classification box. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:04, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Sapindaceae is paraphyletic if Aceraceae (and Hippocastanaceae) is excluded; therefore Aceraceae has been sunk into Sapindaceae in recent work. Lavateraguy (talk) 23:17, 24 April 2013 (UTC)


I was reading this page, and not sure rules on editing, so I'll leave it up to you guys... "These mutants have alterations in either negative gravitropism in hypocotyls and/or shoots, or positive gravitropism in roots, or both. Mutants have been identified with varying effects on the gravitropic responses in each organ, including mutants which nearly eliminate gravitropic growth, and those whose effects are weak or conditional."

looked back at the top of the page and confirmed this needs editing because it is essentially saying mutants are exactly the same, as opposed to different. here is how the page defined the terms positive and negative in reference to Gravitropism.

"Upward growth of plant parts, against gravity, is called "negative gravitropism", and downward growth of roots is called "positive gravitropism".

EDIT before posting: wow someone griefed / made an error on the page just now...


0xFFF1 (talk) 00:32, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Made the error correction by removing the above hyperlink from the article. 0xFFF1 (talk) 00:57, 27 April 2013 (UTC)


Is this new stub really a typo which should become a redirect to Maxillarieae, or are they genuinely different? PamD 07:07, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Typo, I would say. --Stemonitis (talk) 09:13, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Inter-kingdom homonyms

Seeking comments about how to handle cases where a scientific name is homonymous across different nomenclatural codes. Please go to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life#Inter-kingdom homonyms for discussion. Plantdrew (talk) 20:57, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

A topical question. A good question.
Simplistically as there is more to it, add " (plant)" to the article title.
For another example different from an example i dealt with recently, the genus of trees Finschia has the same word as the genus synonym for a bird species. If the bird "Finschia" was not a synonym but a current name and had more popular importance rating in Wikipedia, then it may have got the unqualified article title. In that scenario the plant genus article would have got the title "Finschia (plant)". Note that the italics of the taxon name have to have specific coding so that the " (plant)" qualifier does not get italicised, using {{DISPLAYTITLE}}. ’Hope this assists a little.
Just to note that {{italic title}} and its implicit use in the automated taxobox system, for example, handles simple parenthesized disambiguation terms without the need to use {{DISPLAYTITLE}}. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:02, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
In fact, better than present WP ways, the more simple and scientific way is the most parsimonious way: add the authority to the title!; as mandatory within biological science, the nomenclature codes, etc! WP is not scientific, nor does it claim so. In WP that would be dejected as original research. ——-macropneuma 00:55, 29 April 2013 (UTC) (was out of login at the time.)
See a short one of the guidelines, here: Template:Speciesbox#Genus_names_duplicated_across_kingdoms ——--macropneuma 02:20, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to keep discussion in a single place, at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life#Inter-kingdom homonyms (since it affects more than just Wikiproject:Plants), but a quick reply. Current practice is indeed to add (plant) to disambiguate; adding authority would be another possibility, subject to discussion. There hasn't been any discussion I could find previously, and I'd like to see some. I'm also hoping to see some consensus that an ambiguous genus name (which is correct/valid under multiple codes) should usually be the title of a disambiguation page, not a page on one of the correct/valid genera; I'm like to see a guideline established that would support moving, e.g. Callilepis to Callilepis (spider) so Callilepis (plant) can be disambiguated at Callilepis (there are many other examples, including ones where the plant is at the genus name and the animal is at the disambiguated title). The Speciesbox documentation addresses how to properly use the Speciesbox template in these cases, but is not a guideline to general best practice.Plantdrew (talk)

Individual, any thoughts on its suggested deletion?

This matter pertains to both plants and biology, but is not strictly concerned with either subject. However, I know that there are some people with broad and philosophical interests at this project, who might perhaps be interested. It has just been suggested that Individual should be deleted, but very few people are involved so far in the discussion. Thanks for reading. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 15:24, 8 May 2013 (UTC)


Opinions are invited at Talk:Grass about whether "graminoids" is a technical term synonymous with "grasses", so that "true grasses" refers to Poaceae. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 15:58, 19 May 2013 (UTC)


Hi everyone! I saw that you have Alfalfa listed as a high-importance article to your project. Looks like it's grown beyond B-class and is ready for WP:GAN. I think so anyway. I've never even touched the article so I'd feel weird about taking it there myself.  The Potato Hose  00:06, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Calathea cylindrica?

Calathea cylindrica, Jardín Botánico de Múnich, Alemania, 2013-01-27, DD 01.jpg

An editor is asking if this flower is Calathea cylindrica. It was originally labeled as Heliconia episcopalis. Anyone familiar with this one? First Light (talk) 20:34, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Corydalis elegans

I noticed that Corydalis elegans was recently deleted (reason given "no such taxon: nomen nudum"). I can't find any indication that it is a nomen nudum; and there is information available about a plant under that name (e.g. [1]. Even if it is a nomen nudum, it seems to me that regardless of the name being scientifically useless, if there is information about the organism, Wikipedia could still have an article using that title. Is it possible to undelete the article? Plantdrew (talk) 21:45, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

And I just checked IPNI, and I found there is "Corydalis elegans Wall." that's a nomen nudum, but "Corydalis elegans Wallich ex Hooker & Thomson" seems to be a good name. At worst, perhaps the incorrect authority was given in the deleted C. elegans article? Plantdrew (talk) 21:48, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
The entire content of the article (aside from taxobox) was:
"Corydalis elegans is a herbaceous flowering plant species in the genus Corydalis."
It was also marked as unreferenced. If you have references for it, feel free to recreate it, or perhaps ask Stemonitis (talk · contribs) to explain why he felt it should be deleted. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 23:04, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
If I've made an error (as seems likely in this case; I overlooked the later valid publication), then by all means undo it. The article I deleted was worthless, so starting from scratch will be no great setback. --Stemonitis (talk) 06:12, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
It appears that the name was originally published in 1829 without description in the Wallich Catalogue (#1435) and the description was published in Flora Indica by J.D. Hooker and Thomas Thomson in 1855.--Melburnian (talk) 05:31, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
The AGS Encyclopedia of Alpines has a description of a species under the name C. elegans Wall. However the name is not listed in Lindén and Zetterlund's monograph on the tuberous species of Corydalis. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:38, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
It is recognised by the Harvard Flora of China. Flora of Pakistan has Corydalis elegans Hook. non Wall. pro parte = Corydalis clarkei. (I think that means that Hooker's concept included what are now considered to be two species.) Lavateraguy (talk) 18:15, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Formally published now: a phylogenetic vascular plant classification, linear sequence.

Kind of good recent news, that this consensus (Vascular Plant Classification Committee (VPCC)) has become formalised, in this internationally published journal paper:

Wearn, James A.; Chase, Mark W.; Mabberley, David J.; Couch, Charlotte (22 Apr 2013). "Utilizing a phylogenetic plant classification for systematic arrangements in botanic gardens and herbaria". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 172 (2): 127–141. doi:10.1111/boj.12031. ISSN 1095-8339. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 

Widely accepted and implemented already, over recent years, as you may already know—clarifying, the good news i mean is now this formal publication.

Any fellow botanists who can’t get a full text copy, i’ll email it to you if you email request me via my user page. ——--macropneuma 23:22, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Interesting, but I'm not quite sure what is new in this publication (other than the numbering of the families). I doubt that it will change the acceptability or otherwise of the full APG III approach, some parts of which certainly don't seem to be "widely accepted"; e.g. Hyacinthaceae is used by all the recent papers I've seen on this group or its genera, and many specialists continue to use the narrower families in APG II rather than the broad Amaryllidaceae. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:20, 23 May 2013 (UTC)


Guava has been proposed to be renamed, see talk:Guava -- (talk) 22:29, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Identification problem at Featured Pictures project

Could I ask any flower experts to weigh in at Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates/delist/File:Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus flower.jpg? There is concern that this flower is not what the file title claims, but it has to be something. Thanks. Chick Bowen 23:27, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

I've commented there, but this does raise the more general and insoluble(?) problem that although we require text to be sourced, there is no equivalent requirement for image identifications. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:25, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Good point - tricky to address. Some ones I am not sure of I've asked botanists to look at and ID....which makes me wonder how to vouch for it apart from noting it. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:02, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

New Wikidata task force

A new task force is working on taxonomy d:Wikidata:Taxonomy task force. --Tobias1984 (talk) 12:35, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

AFC for Mancel Thornton Munn

I have started an AFC for Mancel Thornton Munn. He might be slightly obscure to many, but botanists will recognize him for his prolific development of techniques and publications on seed testing. If folks here can add to the article, please do. - (talk) 16:11, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

That's a decent start. I'm adding a bunch of information. This guy probably deserves much more than a stub article to get started at Wikipedia. - tucoxn\talk 22:56, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, that really made it a better article. I knew he was well known in botany, but I was limited to online resources. - (talk) 04:27, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Pine article titles

Article titles in Category:Pinus are inconsistent. Capitalization of title and use of common vs. scientific name is all over the place. Please comment at Talk:Whitebark_Pine#Requested_move. Plantdrew (talk) 05:40, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

WP:MEDRS and ongoing research?

Apologies for asking about a topic that has been discussed before, but I'm not at all sure how to proceed, and would be glad of opinions from those more experienced with this sort of thing. A number of plant articles are being stripped of all mention of possible medical uses, and a discussion has started at Talk:Artemisia absinthium. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 17:04, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

That is disconcerting. I've seen a number of edits where (unreferenced) statements about historical medicinal use of a plant have been deleted. I haven't objected to these edits because a) the statement WAS unreferenced and b) finding a RS is hard; there is a lot of unreliable herbal literature to wade through. However, I do think's Modern Herbal is a good RS for statements about herbal medicine. I wouldn't claim it complies with WP:MEDRS, but there needs to be a way to discuss traditional/historical usage of plants as medicines without requiring that these uses be clinically validated. Regardless of whether or not wormwood is a clincally effective antihelminthic, we ought to be able to mention that it was used as antihelmnthic, and that this use is why it was called wormwood. Plantdrew (talk) 18:36, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
This diff is absolutely ridiculous. A statement describing how a plant is being marketed had the source removed as not being WP:MEDRS. The statement remained, uncited, and the removed source was actually critical of the medicinal claims being made by marketers. Maybe we should take this over to Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources (medicine). Plantdrew (talk) 20:20, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I've made my views clear at Talk:Artemisia absinthium. Of course we must say that wormwood was used historically as an antiheminthic and that this is how it got its name. Of course we can quote well-known pre-scientific herbalists like Culpeper and Dioscorides to show the historical uses of plants. WP:MEDRS is simply being misinterpreted (along with WP:OR). Peter coxhead (talk) 20:59, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the responses. Yes, it does seem that those guidelines are being misunderstood; as I read WP:MEDRS it deals with giving undue weight, not with outright removal. Some of the problem might also be with inadequate edit summaries, but that seems to be a relatively small component.
PS: I've taken the liberty of adding WP:PLANTS to Talk:Ethnomedicine: anyone want a major challenge to improve an article? Sminthopsis84 (talk) 01:55, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Good to have Ethnomedicine listed on this project. I'll get to it right after I tackle Ethnobotany (not likely to happen soon though). I just looked at the traffic statistics for the article I mentioned with an awful MEDRS edit above. Gambooge is blowing up! (due to media hype which certainly doesn't comply with MEDRS). It's gone from ~120 page views/day a year ago, to ~1500 in recent months, and has spiked to ~4000 daily views over the last week. A lot of people are looking at that article right now. Want to work on helping improve it? Plantdrew (talk) 04:14, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Lots of work needed at Ethnobotany too, and Ethnopharmacy and Ethnopharmacology. (Some of the interest in Gambooge could be from people who are intrigued that a plant traditionally used as a purgative is being touted as a way to burn fat. What symptoms a person might expect from taking the dear doctor's advice could be the fuel for speculative jokes. I hesitate to think up some key words for a web search to try to find such jokes.) Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:45, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Taxonomy as a section title revisited

We've had a number of discussions as to whether "Taxonomy" is the best section title when topics like nomenclatural history, evolution, phylogeny, subdivisions, etc. are discussed in a section of an article. As often happens, we didn't reach any very firm conclusions.

I find myself increasingly unwilling to use "Taxonomy" when most of the material goes beyond the nomenclatural, and have been using "Systematics" as a broader title in such cases.

What would other members of WP:PLANTS think about offering "Systematics" as an alternative section title in the plant article template? Or is this just some peculiar preference of mine? Peter coxhead (talk) 10:22, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

I would have said that taxonomy includes both nomenclature and systematics. Lavateraguy (talk) 10:58, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with that, taxonomy includes both nomenclature and systematics. Systematics is the methods that are used to arrive at a classification. The classification itself and the results of applying the rules of nomenclature are outside systematics. There've been changes (one might say "battles) on the various wikipedia pages related to this recently, but I doubt that it is all as clear as it could be, and suspect that there could still be major confusion lurking in some of that material, and that similar confusion lurks in some outside sources that try to popularize taxonomy. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 12:57, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm, In a section on taxonomy ( which is defined as what it's named and what it's classified as) it would seem reasonable that arguments or discussion supporting that conclusion are naturally part of that discussion without necessarily needing another heading. Thus for mine it is fine to include discussion on why something is classified as something in a taxonomy section, just as in a description section we might touch on pigments providing colour without calling it description and chemistry.....but that's just me. We try to aim for succinct headings and I see the benefit of scope so marginally over just one word that I'll stick to a single word. That said, I've been guilty of slapping a - and naming onto taxonomy sections....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:29, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
My only worry with and naming is that it could be an invitation to add a slather of unsourced common names and names already covered by the interwiki. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:48, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I think my concern is over the different ways the term "taxonomy" is used in biology. There are three sourced definitions at Taxonomy (biology)#Definition. The first and third seem to me essentially the same in relation to the content of a plant article: they say that taxonomy covers classification and naming (classification pre-supposes naming). The second definition is much broader, since it includes description and identification, which we don't put in plant articles under "Taxonomy". Then of course there is the use of "taxonomy" to mean just "alpha taxonomy". What the article template says and what our practice is in good/featured articles seems to be a mixture of taxonomy, in the narrowish sense of classification and naming, and systematics, particularly phylogeny.
If we accept Smithopsis84's statements ("Systematics is the methods that are used to arrive at a classification. The classification itself and the results of applying the rules of nomenclature are outside systematics.") then it could be argued that a more accurate section title would be "Taxonomy and systematics" (or vice versa). Hmm.. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:02, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I see the problem, and it's a difficult one. What I stated above was what I was taught, really by just one professor, I think. I've added a couple of definitions from dictionaries at Taxonomy (biology)#Definition, that I think more-or-less support that position. If you have time, please see what you think. What I suspect is going on here is that the meaning is changing because of the emphasis on creating phylogenies without classifications. Once upon a time, the aim of systematic research was to produce a classification, and taxonomy was the whole field of research. Now, a cynic might say that the aim of producing a phylogeny is merely to add a publication to one's resumé, and taxonomists are fuddy-duddies who are dying out (just when the planet needs them most). Not a pretty situation, in my opinion. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 18:22, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Rank edit(s)

Is there something wrong with this edit? I'm not sufficiently learned in such things, though it doesn't make sense to me that the article taxobox now presents an order of plants, which the accompanying text states contains seventeen orders....? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 18:03, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Good catch. I undid the edit that I think was done in good faith and hopefully explained sufficiently in my edit summary. The clades named angiosperms, eudicots, and rosids are part of the APG III system, of course, and have not been described or classified at any rank, so it's inappropriate to switch them from |unranked_divisio= to |divisio= etc. parameters. I think the editor just removed "unranked" and left "ordo" for rosids, even though if it were classified at a rank it would be at a rank that would contain orders. In the taxobox, however, we use the |unranked_ordo= to squeeze in another clade after eudicots in the |unranked_classis= parameter. |unranked_ordo= displays above |ordo=. Rkitko (talk) 19:55, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
User:Aliwal2012 has made similar edits (Cynodon dactylon, Alfalfa). I'd point them to a guideline that supports using APG unranked clades in the taxobox, but I'm not actually finding any thing that addresses using the APG clades. I'm sure it's on talk pages somewhere, but it's not discussed in Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/Template; the only mention of the taxobox (Wikipedia:TX) there goes straight to the general taxobox documentation. Plantdrew (talk) 20:43, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure that a couple of years ago or so, there was a WT:Plants discussion about the use of unranked parameters within taxoboxes, though I didn't join in the discussion because I knew even less then than I do currently, and I couldn't say where the discussion is archived or what was concluded, if anything. Maybe other editors can remember? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 20:55, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I found this discussion: Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants/Archive56#Unranked vs. clade that partially gets to the point. We certainly never got around to a decision since I think the automatic taxobox still uses "clade" but it's clear from that discussion no one supports "|divisio = Angiosperms" since that's inaccurate and incorrect. There's a bit of discussion also at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Plants/Archive23#Rosidae/rosids etc where the question arises later on (ignore most of the PhyloCode stuff). I also undid the edit at Alfalfa. Perhaps it might be worth a brief talk page message to point the editor to this discussion so that they can avoid that mistake in the future. Rkitko (talk) 22:11, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, two of the clades have been given formal names and ranks, by Chase and Reveal (2009): angiosperms = Subclass Magnoliidae; rosids = Superorder Rosanae. But I'm not suggesting we use them! Peter coxhead (talk) 21:16, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Good point! I haven't forgotten about that paper, but I'm still waiting to see if anyone else picks up on the ranked system. Rkitko (talk) 22:11, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any evidence in my reading that anyone else has. But their paper does illustrate a relevant point, namely that if a rank is given to angiosperms it is likely to have to be much lower than we are used to. Peter coxhead (talk) 05:45, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

I'm not really seeing any strong consensus or strong dissenting opinions in those discussions Rkitko linked. It seems to me the de facto standard for taxoboxes is using "unranked" APG groups. Some taxoboxes call the APG groups "clades", and some use a fully ranked classification.

There's no documentation of the de facto standard. The example taxoboxes at Wikipedia:TX use unranked groups, but the blank plant taxoboxes for copy-pasting are fully ranked. Is there consensus for having taxoboxes with the unranked groups? Can we put something about it in Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/Template? Plantdrew (talk) 00:18, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

I could do a more thorough search, but we had discussions all over the place. Some discussions took place at Template talk:Taxobox but I couldn't find anything quickly there in the archives. A few of us (Hesperian, me, a few others I'm forgetting at the moment) did a lot of the work in updating the taxoboxes from Cronquist to APG II and then later APG III but many remain incomplete. It's still my intention to finish the job, I suppose, and I do so in little bits here and there with months of inactivity in between. It's a big job and takes a lot of concentration to not screw it up. Regardless, {{Taxobox}} only supports "unranked" for the APG clades or the ranked Cronquist taxa (or other system if further out of date), but we had consensus for the APG system long ago for angiosperms. {{Automatic taxobox}}, on the other hand, supports assigning a rank of "clade" to things like Template:Taxonomy/Eudicots. It is inconsistent and we should deal with that at some point, I suppose. Given our consensus to use the APG III system and the only way to implement this correctly is by using the unranked parameters, I don't think we need another discussion to confirm consensus of its implementation - that's just how it is. We had discussed ways to implement "clade: Angiosperms" in the regular Taxobox, but it turned out to be difficult to code for some reason. I reference that but didn't link to it in one of those discussions I linked above. So yes, be bold and add the correct method by which we implement the APG III system for angiosperms in the Taxobox to the article template. Rkitko (talk) 01:03, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

I edited the taxobox documentation in this diff. Dies the text I added look good? Should I add another example for non-flowering plants (& algae and fungi) which use a ranked hierarchy?

I intend to edit Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/Template to explain the taxoboxes a little, but was wondering what the consensus was about automatic taxoboxes (which I think need to be mentioned in some way in Plants/Template). I loked through talk archives, and I see that in 2010 User:Rkitko, said "I would caution against using [the automatic taxobox] before consensus has been reached to use it instead". Would it be fair to the consensus on automatic taxoboxes as "converting a standard taxobox to an automatic taxobox is generally uncontroversial, but this practice is not presently encouraged"? Plantdrew (talk) 18:40, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

That seems fair to me.
We did agree to use automatic taxoboxes in the families which APG III merged and which were separate in APG II, always making the subfamilies visible. So e.g. all the genera in the Scilloideae (ex Hyacinthaceae) have automatic taxoboxes. This was because there was doubt as to whether or not the merged families would be accepted, and it's somewhat easier to make wholesale changes using the automatic taxobox system. (In the case of the Hyacinthaceae, all the recent papers I've read recently specifically on this taxon do not accept it being submerged into Asparagaceae.)
It could also be noted that the creator of an article is free to choose the kind of taxobox used. (Although this may become irrelevant if the proposal to convert taxoboxes to Lua and use a taxonomy stored in Wikidata goes ahead, which I personally hope won't be the case.) Peter coxhead (talk) 21:10, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Revised Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/Template with this diff [2] to mention use of both standard and automatic taxoboxes, and use of unranked APG clades in taxoboxes. Please comment/edit as necessary.Plantdrew (talk) 04:27, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Lower case for English plant names

Casliber added this to the project page: "The consensus for common names is to use lower case (unless a proper noun forms part of the name)." I reverted it, pending some more discussion.

I think it's true that the majority of plant editors prefer lower case common names, but whether there is a consensus is another matter. My understanding is that when this was last discussed it was agreed that there was no consensus here.

What is certainly the case is that many (I think the majority) of the 49 FA plant articles currently use capitalized English names (see here). Now since Casliber is a major contributor to the Banksia articles which form a large part of these 49, perhaps they are being changed to lower case?

I believe strongly that where there are "official" sources of standardized English names for plants, these should be given in the list of names in the same styling as is used in the source. (I can expand on the reasons if anyone wants.) Hence I think any addition needs to be a bit more complex. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:02, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

I don't think it matters what we as a project decide. When it was last discussed here I don't think the MOS:LIFE consensus had been developed yet. Now that it has we just simply have to follow it. Unlike the bird project, I really don't think there is such a thing as an official source of standardized English names for plants. Our project page should reflect the MOS:LIFE consensus since we can't really go off and ignore it as a group. The FAs should be updated to be consistent with our manual of style. Rkitko (talk) 06:18, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I am unaware of any official names for plants - as far as I am aware it is only birds which have official names, and that everywhere else common names are being converted to lower case - FAs that have Capitalised names might be the older ones....if you know of official lists that'd be good to link to here. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 06:21, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
The current wording at MOS:LIFE reflects aggressive editing by User:SMcCandlish; see the earlier version. His changes were disputed at the time, but he wore everyone down. He seems to have given up editing after being warned by an admin for inappropriate language in discussions. However, I don't dispute that outside birds and lepidoptera, there is a general consensus now to use lower case in text (tables, lists, etc. are different).
There's no international list of English names for plants, but there is a list for the UK, created by the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) and the names are used in all standard floras. There's been a recent discussion in BSBI News in which it was again made clear that the use of capitals was a deliberate intention (not every member of the BSBI agrees with this approach!). There's an Excel file containing the 2007 list here; I'm sure that I have the 2011 version on my laptop, but I can't find the link just now.
I explained elsewhere my view on these names:
Many non-scientists who are seriously interested in plants (and other organisms) are uncomfortable with Latin names. They find them hard to pronounce and hard to remember. So organizations which want to promote the study of "their" taxa have generated lists of English names. These are not true "common" names, but artificial English names. In the cases I know well (British vascular plants, British bryophytes, British fungi, British lepidoptera) the artificial English names been carefully designed to show relationships where possible, e.g. having a two-part structure corresponding to genus and species. But most importantly they have been designed to be unique, so that an amateur reporting an occurrence of a species using such an English name is as precise in their identification as if the Latin name had been used (these days, particularly for fungi, the Latin names change much faster than the artificial English names!).
As soon as you depart from the prescribed style for these artificial names, you raise doubts as to whether the name is being used in the manner intended, and so introduce imprecision. Now if the scientific name is given as well, there's no problem. But if it isn't, there is a problem. As someone who maintains a checklist of organisms for a UK National Nature Reserve, I'm happy to receive records using the "official" common names from people whose identifications I can trust. What concerns me is people using "random" English names picked up from sources like Wikipedia. By all means give all well attested common names for a species, but where there is a standard common name, this should be given in the form the source intended, and not arbitrarily altered by a Wikipedia editor.
Peter coxhead (talk) 07:02, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Fair point - do you consider lower case as arbitrarily altered? Incidentally, I've been defending capitalization in bird names on WP for years now....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 07:10, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Indeed - looks like our national herbarium uses caps too. Hadn't realised that. Maybe we need to revisit Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 07:17, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict)The use of a source with a capitalized name but applied here with our style guide is not, in my opinion, arbitrarily or significantly altered. It's been done for quite a while now in many other style guides. It's simply a style decision and does not alter the content of the name. As I've pointed out before in other discussions: The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition, addresses common names of plants and animals in 8.136. For the correct capitalization and spelling of common names of plants and animals, consult a dictionary or the authoritative guides to nomenclature, the ICBN and the ICZN, mentioned in 8.127. In any one work, a single source should be followed. In general, Chicago recommends capitalizing only proper nouns and adjectives, as in the following examples, which conform to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.Dutchman's-breeches, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, rhesus monkey, Rocky Mountain sheep, Cooper's hawk. Rkitko (talk) 07:21, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
The problem with changing BSBI names to lower case is that the names were created in the context of capitalization, and you sometimes get odd consequences by changing to lower case. Consider "Ragged-Robin" and "Sweet-William Catchfly". The capital after the hyphen shows that "Robin" and "William" are treated by the BSBI as personal names (otherwise the word after the hyphen isn't capitalized), so as lowercase in running text these would become "ragged-Robin" and "sweet-William catchfly", which look very odd to me. In other cases, I'm not sure whether a personal name is intended – should "Jack Pine" be converted to "jack pine" in running text or to "Jack pine"? I think the former, but wouldn't such a decision be OR or SYNTH and thus forbidden? (Sometimes people have responded that you just look at other sources to see whether they use "Jack pine" or "jack pine", but this is wrong. The issue in giving the sourced BSBI name is whether the BSBI intended "Jack" as a personal name or not, and here you can't tell.)
@Rkitko: what the Chicago Manual recommends is fine for US-origin English names, but not relevant to BSBI or Australian names. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:40, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm unfamiliar with the BSBI names, but I imagine they give some indication as to their etymology. Applying our style guide correctly would require a check of that. But oh, absolutely, whether we applied the language from the Chicago Manual or MOS:LIFE the outcome is the same: consistent style for common names regardless of origin. I don't care whether the plant's common name is from Australia, North America, or the UK, the style guide should be applied in the same way. MOS:LIFE says nothing regarding respecting the way the majority of sources for a particular region handle that flora or fauna's common names. Style guides like this exist for one purpose - consistency of presentation in the medium. Anyway, how the hell should we discover whether a common name is of UK origin or North American origin for plants with those distributions, multiple common names, and a tertiary source that lists them all? No, don't do any detective work, just simply take the common name and apply the style guide (sentence case!) and you're done. Rkitko (talk) 13:17, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
But to apply sentence case, you have to do detective work. That's the problem. If you didn't – if capitalized names in the source could be easily converted to and from sentence case names in Wikipedia, then I wouldn't be raising concerns. But they can't be in some cases, as I've tried to explain several times in this discussion, because it's often not clear whether part of a name is a proper name or not.
We discover the origin of a name by the source given – the problem at present is that many English names in articles are unsourced, but they should always be sourced like other information. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:33, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
By the way, if we do change the project page, Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life#Common name capitalization will need fixing as well. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:40, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

User:Peter coxhead, I've been meaning to respond to your comments on Talk:Whitebark Pine, but this now seems like a more appropriate place for that discussion. The UK has official common names (which are capitalized). The US and Canada have a defacto, quasi-official list of common names (which are not capitalized); the common names in the USDA Plants database and Flora of North America both rely on a database developed by one botanist (John Kartesz) in the late 1960's. I assume that there was some discussion and consensus in the botanical community for the capitalization rules of UK common names. I'm not aware of any consensus for the forms of the North American names; the Kartesz forms were adopted out of convenience. References are important; common names for plants are rarely cited. I don't object to a referenced official name with non-standard caps and hyphens. Common names need to be better referenced, and it might be useful to categorize official common names by the region where they are official. Plantdrew (talk) 07:32, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

It would be useful, for this discussion, to know if any of the bodies that produce standardised common names for plants have written rules for capitalisation like the IOC World Bird List.--Melburnian (talk) 07:40, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
The BSBI does, but I can only find the discussion in the BSBI News which isn't online. The reasons are the same as the IOC ones, basically, as is the style (e.g. don't capitalize after a hyphen unless a proper name).
To me the real problem lies in the arbitrary decisions made in de-capitalizing names. Why does Merriam-Webster de-capitalize "jack" in "jack-in-the-pulpit"? As far as I can tell from the books I have on the origin of common names, "Jack" here is used in the way we use personal names in "any old Tom, Dick or Harry", i.e. as a generic term for a man, so it should be capitalized. (A "man" by the way for the same reason as Cuckoo Pint was called Cuckoo Pintle before the Victorians bowdlerized many of the common names of plants, namely because of the resemblance of the spadix to an erect penis.) Peter coxhead (talk) 07:50, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Australian query: The Australian plant common name database uses capitals for English names, and gives sources for each name. It would be useful to know whether the capitals are in the sources or added by the Australian National Herbarium. Can anyone with access to any of the sources given answer this question? Peter coxhead (talk) 08:06, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Below are the sources. I'll check them when I get time later, or others can check any they have access to in the meantime.--Melburnian (talk) 08:27, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Reference 1 Wrigley J & Fagg M, (1983) Australian Native Plants 2nd Edition, Collins Sydney.
Sentence case
  • Reference 2 Boden, R. (1994+) Trees in Canberra, Regular articles in the Canberra Times.
  • Reference 3 Pryor, L.D. (assisted by Briggs, J.D.) Australian Endangered Species: Eucalypts, ANPWS Special Publication 5
  • Reference 4 Sydney-Illawarra-Blue Mountain Waterboard, Rainforest Conservation Status in the Metropolitan& Woronora Catchment Areas (undated)
  • Reference 5 Harden, Gwen J (ed) (1991) Flora of NSW Vol 2, RBG Sydney NSW University.
  • Reference 6 Denise Greig slide collection donations to the Australian Plant Image Index, names used by Denise in her numerous publications on Australian plants.
Small Caps (The Austalian Gardener's Wildflower Catalogue)
  • Reference 7 Sydney-Illawarra-Blue Mountain Waterboard, Rainforest Conservation Status in the Metropolitan & Woronora Catchment Areas (undated)
  • Reference 8 Adler, Michele (1994) Common Names of Australian Plants, Adland Horticultural, Melbourne.
  • Reference 9 Costin, A; Gray, M; Totterdell, C & Wimbush, D. (1979) Kosciusko Alpine Flora, CSIRO/Collins.
  • Reference 10 Robson, Peter J., (undated, supplied 1993) Checklist of Australian Trees, self-published.
  • Reference 11 Mark Parkes slide collection
  • Reference 12 Brooker & Kleinig (2001), Field Guide to Eucalyptus vol 2 - SW & Southern Australia, Inkata Press, Sydney
Sentence case
  • Reference 13 database for:Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - trees, shrubs and vines (2006),an interactive CD key to rainforest plants.
  • Reference 14 database for the publication:CSIRO Handbook of Economic Plants of Australia editors, M. Lazarides and B. Hince.East Melbourne : CSIRO, 1993.

I think it would be a disaster to try to carve out another exception to MOS:CAPS for plants. I'm glad to hear there was no consensus to do so. And I hate to see the "Banksia" example being held up in support of this, as that's a proper name from Sir Joseph Banks. So yes, capitalize Banksia and other proper name parts like in "sweet-William catchfly" ("ragged-robin" is less clearly a proper name, as I see it lowercase a lot in sources, but if it's supposed to refer to a person named Robin, then please do capitalize it). But follow the rest of the world and the rest of WP in not capitalizing common names. I just fixed a ton of "generic" common names, that somehow had been capitalized even though they didn't even refer to a species or have an official status (like Skunk Cabbage). Most other common names articles were already properly lowercase. Let's not upset this rather nice status quo to implement an exception based on WP:SSF. Dicklyon (talk) 18:37, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

The status quo is that there is no consensus in WP:PLANTS either way, as it says at Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life#Common name capitalization. I think we may be able to reach a consensus now, but we'll have to see. The reason that this status quo is not properly explained at MOS:CAPS is that editors like SMcCandlish removed accurate statements in favour of somewhat aggressive remarks about local consensus. Most of WP:SSF is also due to SMcCandlish, and is selectively polemical in its content; enjoyable to read but not to be taken as a balanced presentation. There are many aspects of plant naming in which we rightly follow specialist styles which differ from normal Wikipedia styles, e.g. italicizing names at genus level and below, using single quotes for cultivar names rather than double quotes, always capitalizing cultivar group names, etc. As it happpens, I'm not advocating always following the style of English names in specialist sources. I'm arguing that where capitalization is explicitly intended as an integral part of the name this should be respected when making a list of English names. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:33, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Oh, by the way, avoiding the use of a genus name like Banksia as a singular English name is something we have agreed on in the past, so, ironically, this is the least desirable capitalization of all as it would increase confusion between the botanical and English name – see Wikipedia:WikiProject_Plants#The use of botanical names as common names. Saying that English names derived from genus names based on personal names should be capitalized would also mean capitalizing many other common names which are the same as genus names, "Fuchsia" instead of "fuchsia" for example. This really doesn't seem a good idea! Peter coxhead (talk) 21:55, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Would BSBI's Flora Search be a good source for citing British common names? Plantdrew (talk) 18:30, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

(I moved the above post, because it's not to do with my "sidepoint".) You'd think so, but some I tried produce different results from their spreadsheet, which the standard UK flora, Stace (2010), follows precisely in all the cases I've checked. Thus searching for Lychnis flos-cuculi in the BSBI Flora Search returns "Ragged Robin" whereas the spreadsheet and Stace have "Ragged-Robin". Searching for "Ragged-Robin" fails. Sigh... Peter coxhead (talk) 21:42, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
RGBGE hosts a version of the BSBI database, which gives "Ragged-Robin" for L. flos-cuculi. It's not very easy to use (you have to select an option to output vernacular names), and it doesn't seem to allow for stable weblinks to the database records (which makes it very difficult to cite).Plantdrew (talk) 23:25, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Sidepoint: reasons not to emphasize English names

Not relevant to the issue of whether to capitalize or not, but whatever we do, we should continue to stick to our policy on using scientific names as article titles (and ideally in text too), regardless of any consensus elsewhere. Yet another example of the problems caused by English names has come up recently. If you search for "lysichiton heat" in Google, you'll find hundreds of websites claiming that Lysichiton americanus produces heat, enough to melt snow. Until recently, I'm sad to say that the Wikipedia article said the same, sourced to one of these websites. However, it's not true; the scientific literature is clear that thermogenesis is only a property of Symplocarpus. The error has arisen, I'm sure, through the use of "skunk cabbage" as the English name for species in both genera, and people confusing the different plants called "skunk cabbage". Peter coxhead (talk) 08:48, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Just for the record

Peter, someone e-mailed me about this. I would've preferred to ignore it, but I ended up agreeing that some issues really need to be addressed here, since various relevant attempts to game the system against me and other MOS regulars are of wider import and interest than me and my own concerns, both on this issue in particular and simply with regard to power-mongering (not by you; you'll see what I mean). Summary version: Your statement of my reason for leaving is badly incorrect, as is your take on my MOS:LIFE edits, which have been very stable without any further controversy for quite some time; and, Casliber's correction to the wording on the project page needs to be un-reverted.

Firstly, I have not ceased editing because I was "warned by an admin for inappropriate language"[3]. I've stopped editing here because I no longer have much faith in Wikipedia as an open editing environment, populated by peers in rational discourse, with encyclopedic goals. Wikipedia is now effectively and increasingly under the thumb of agenda-pushing, tin-pot dictatorial politicians abusing adminship as a caste system, as a puerile, venal popularity contest, and even as a means to a censorious and propagandistic end, all to the detriment of Wikipedia's mission.

Secondly, your hyperbolic and kinda hypocritical labeling of my work on MOS:LIFE as "aggressive editing"[4] is petty and false. All I did is tweak it to better reflect actual site-wide consensus about MOS (do not capitalize common names, and no consensus at WT:MOS recognizes birds or anything else as valid exceptions, but only notes that people still want to fight about it), WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy (wikiprojects cannot trump broader consensuses), and the facts of the situation (consensus has not actually changed on this issue, no matter how many times the issue is "parent-" and forum-shopped, or otherwise canvassed). The wording was arrived at after truly excessive levels of appeasement of some particularly vocal proponents of common-name capitali[z|s]ation, and represented the closest thing to an agreeable compromise that could be reached after two solid months of rancorous debate in early 2011. It has remained quite stable since then, with the most peace WP has had on the issue in many years. If you don't like the fact that MOS clearly says not to capitali[z|s]e the common names of organisms, and has said so since 2008, and that the draft, badly needed MOS:ORGANISMs I wrote almost single-handedly, not to mention painstakingly and thanklessly, is written to comply with this and to clean up various other pages' failures to comply with this, take it up at WT:MOS; don't personally attack me in wikiproject back-channels like this little tree-house and question my motives, thank you very much. I've tried to maintain a collegial level of respect for you (going so far as to specifically exempt you by name from criticisms I've directed toward some other editors on this topic), even if strenuously disagreeing with you on this one style matter, but you don't make it easy when you say things like this when you think I'm not looking (well, I wasn't, technically, but that's not the point). If you're really just picking at scabs relating to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style debates from months and years ago, why grind that axe? I've already conceded that I was too testy sometimes in those discussions, mea culpa, so stop kicking me in the 'nads about it, please. :-/ I'm not angry at you about it, it's just tedious and pointless; I roll my eyes and sigh.

Thirdly (and not very briefly, alas - there's a lot to cover, and I only want to have to say it one more time), you're just rehashing already-debunked rationales, in this pointless new variant of the interminable capital letters grumbling.

  1. See what Rkitko said, in particular; just that alone is enough to end the debate.
  2. Casliber's "The consensus for common names is to use lower case (unless a proper noun forms part of the name)." is correct. MOS has said this for five long years now. The continued minority (one-party?) insistence that this wikiproject hasn't separately come to a redundant consensus on this is just noise; there is no principle anywhere on Wikipedia that site-wide guidelines must be "ratified" by wikiprojects in order to be applied to articles within their claimed scope. WP:ARBCOM has rejected this notion repeatedly, and this rejection is now a matter of Wikipedia policy, at WP:LOCALCONSENSUS,and has been for years. You know this, I know this, everyone reading here knows this, so please let's end this time-wasting, brow-beating, repetitive game. Changing the venue and bringing it up again does not magically change the debate or its outcome, it just irritates people. Noting that "when this was last discussed it was agreed that there was no consensus here" is totally irrelevant, for the same reason that the fact that WikiProject Cue sports does not have 'its own consensus' that proper names are capitalized is irrelevant. (And actually this "no consensus here" conclusion was not actually agreed any time recently, but back before MOS:LIFE and WP:LOCALCONSENSUS, when the entire question was up in the air and being handled inconsistently by different topical wikiprojects.) The admission that "it's true that the majority of plant editors prefer lower case common names" just reinforces that there is no case for reverting Casliber's correction of this page to reflect MOS and WP reality. It's also notable that Casliber, historically and presumably presently a supporter of bird caps. ("I've been defending capitalization in bird names on WP for years now"), doesn't support plant caps, though notes that some national bodies uses them. Your "natural allies" on this are not with you, because your case is weaker than they feel theirs is. (Myself, DickLyon, Tony1, and most other regular editors of MOS, do not support the position that the birds case is actually different and somehow stronger; we've debunked that notion for years. It's based on the severely dubious idea that bird species and subspecies common names are somehow proper names, like "Jane Austen" and "Madagascar", simply because an international ornithology organization has made a standardized list of such names, and they prefer to capitalize them, while not even all ornithology journals follow suit, and non-ornithology science journals virtually never do, even in ornithology articles./ The reason this idea is unworkable is the same as why we do not capitalize the names of sports, like "Basketall" or "Figure Skating", just because the International Olympic Committee has made an "official" list and prefers the caps.)
  3. For my part, I can simply repeat what I've said again and again, because it's never been refuted (you and other capital letters fans just pretend you didn't see it): Wikipedia is a general-purpose encyclopedia, for everyone and written to general English-language usage, not a specialist publication written to particular specialist style preferences derived from some particular topical journal or where ever. Specialist publications of all kinds, from model railroading magazines to law reviews, routinely cap. various terms of art within their specialist-to-specialist publishing context, and have various reasons for doing so that are usually reasonable within that context but simply irrelevant for encyclopedic writing and reading purposes outside that context. Wikipedia pretty much never, ever follows weird, specialist caps. (or substandard hyphenation, etc.) schemes where they conflict with general usage and expectations in the English language. The only dissonance on this comes from entrenched little camps of tendentious specialist editors who pursue their pet peeves so incessantly that everyone else gets tired of listening and repeatedy re-re-re-refuting the same ad nauseam arguments, and we all walk away in disgust and frustration.

There is no consensus on Wikipedia, outside of a few preaching-to-the-choir wikiproject microconsensuses trying to buck site-wide consensus, that there is any compelling reason to apply such context-specific "rules" outside of their original contexts. Doing so is jarring, credibility-shaking, even irritating to the point of usability-frustrating distraction, to every reader who is not steeped in whatever oh-so-precious specialist jargon-fest the ungrammatical caps., punctuation or other style quirk is being pushed from. Organisms are not magically different and somehow exempt from this effect. If anything, they're the leading example of how triple-damned obnoxious it is and how much never-ending confusion, strife and other trouble it causes to push specialist style nit-picks in the world's most general encyclopedia. It just does not matter at all that you feel the case for the cap'ing of certain plant names is super-duper extra double-plus important for some in-field reason that no one but you and other specialists in your sub-field care about. Virtually every specialty has some style quirk about which certain specialists feel precisely the same way, and their logic in trying to force their weird usages taken out of specialist contexts and shoved into the encyclopedia is fallacious for exactly the same reasons, as WP:SSF covers in great (perhaps unnecessarily great, it's been said) detail.

This species capital letters issue is not in any relevant way likenable to "There are many aspects of plant naming in which we rightly follow specialist styles, e.g. italicizing names at genus level and below, using single quotes for cultivar names rather than double quotes, not using quotes for trade descriptions, always capitalizing cultivar group names, etc.", to quote your examples, because none of those usages conflict with everyday, non-specialist usage, at all, while capitalization of common names of species conflicts with almost all non-specialist usage, including in mainstream reliable sources like newspapers and magazines, other encyclopedias, general English-language style, guides, etc., etc., etc. The general English-language rule is 'do not capitalize anything as a form of emphasis; only capitalize proper names, acronyms, and words at the beginning of a sentence', basically – all of which MOS says very explicitly, too. All of this has been gone over in great detail many times on many pages here. Simply pretending that it hasn't because I'm mostly not around to remind you doesn't change that fact. The SSF page summarizes all of this stuff, but trying to attack it, like many do, as 'just an essay' (fallacies of appeal to emotion and to authority) or 'just written mostly by one person who I think is a big meanie' (ditto, plus thead hominem fallacy) says precisely nothing about the solidity of the reasoning in it (which no one's been able to even approach refuting), much less constitutes an actual argument. SSFers simply pretend it isn't there and won't be noticed. Good luck with that.

Aside: My interest in the caps. matter was never about seeing that MOS and its subpages do what I want them to do. There are a quite a large number of peeves and peccadilloes in MOS that I strongly disagree with as matters of style and grammar, and would never use off-WP, but which I have faithfully obeyed here because they represent a consensus on how WP does things, and it's more important that the consensus exist, be the least confusing choice for the largest number of readers (especially important, and the key point in this dispute), and be followed without editwarring so that the articles are consistent and edtiors' time is spent on writing an encyclopedia not on Usenet-style flaming, than that some particular idea of what is "right" be enshrined. No, my interest in the "organism caps." matter has been an e-community sociological one, a question of why some particular camp of editors (by my count less than 20, and less than a dozen active ones at any time) can, in contravention of WP:OWN and WP:LOCALCONSENSUS, effectively force their way for 8+ years straight, with no real repercussions for it. No other group of editors on any topic has ever managed to pull this off (WP:RFARB is littered with a long string of cases, like WP:ARBAA2, curtailing such behavior). However, a large number of them are constantly trying to do so (see Wikipedia talk:Specialist style fallacy for a very fractional but illustrative selection of examples, many still ongoing), largely following the example of "bird caps." having been argued "successfully" to a stand-still, with minimal effort by an even more minimal number of specialist editors, against the views of virtually everyone else who's ever commented on the matter.

That any of this has to do with capital letters and creatures is completely immaterial. What's important here is not really a style issue and it's not really topical to biology. It's a process and social problem, not an academic one. If it were just an academic one, I would have given up long ago, just like I did about opposing the weird-looking use of sentence case in headings, the jarring use of computer-geeky ISO dates in citations, cap'ing of the first word of each list item in bulleted and numbered lists, and other annoying style Wikipedianisms that don't match mainstream publishing norms. If it were topical, I would have given up as I have over whether maybe the article on Kevin Trudeau shouldn't focus so much on negative controversies about him, or whether "British Isles" is not a neutral enough term, and various other content disputes I've been shouted down on. This is not either kind of issue, it's an internal wiki-political matter that has to do with whether the community can sets its own standards for its own reasons, or whether special interests groups can blindly force their preferences on the community even when they make no sense to anyone or serve the interests of anyone but that little micro-culture.

I think that covers anything I need to say about this, "just for the record". Your assumptions, Peter, about my withdrawal (increasingly likely to be permanent) from contributing to Wikipedia, as well as your characteri[z|s]ation of my work and motivation here, are off-base. At this point, I don't really care whether you come to see my perspective on this or not, and don't plan to look for or respond to any rebuttal. You get the last word, woo hoo.

PS: I do not mean to imply that every issue you raised with regard to caps., hyphenation, etc., is fallacious, just the 'we should use capitals on WP because they do so in my preferred special[i]ty publications' rationale. Various points you raised ("Saying that English names derived from genus names based on personal names should be capitalized would also mean capitalizing many other common names which are the same as genus names...", etc.) are interesting (I side with DickLyon's and Rkitko's take, to the extent they've been presented here so far). Biological nomenclature is complicated and at times contentious, even aside from Wikipedian style concerns.

PPS: Whether "[J|j]ack" in jack-in-the-pulpit should be cap.'ed, vs. a more directly attributable definitely-proper name as in Grevy's zebra) is not a biology question, but a much broader style one, and the answer is generally "no" when it's genericized. It's the same question as whether "john" in the sense of "prostitution customer" is cap.'ed, and whether "guy" in the sense of "random male human" is cap.'ed. Similarly, "platonic" is not cap.'d except when referring to the philosophy or other personal output of Plato ("my relationship with my housemate is platonic"). In short, we do not cap. genericized eponyms ("three-strikes sentencing is draconian" vs. "the laws codified in the Draconian constitution of Athens were particularly harshly enforced".

I'm going back away now. — SMcCandlish  Talk⇒ ɖכþ Contrib. 14:59, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

It would be unfair of me to respond, so I won't – except to say that it's a very good point about "jack" being generic. I guess this would also apply to "William" in "sweet-william" and "Robin" in "ragged-robin". Peter coxhead (talk) 21:37, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Reaching a conclusion

It would be good to reach a conclusion from this discussion; we seem regularly to have interesting discussions here which don't end up with additions to the project page.

English names of plants appear in at least three contexts in a plant article (there may be more):

  1. In running text, whenever the single "preferred" English name is used to refer to the plant rather than the scientific name. Is there now a consensus that in this context the "standard" styling should be used (i.e. lower-case except for proper names)? (SMcCandlish has clarified what should count as a proper name in the case of a personal name.)
  2. In a list of English names for the plant. I believe we agree that all such names should be sourced (which is rare). I still think that in this context names which were deliberately capitalized in the source should be left that way. Perhaps I'm in a minority of one on this.
  3. In tables and lists (as at List of plants by common name for example). I think there has in the past been some support in discussions for capitalizing English names in this context (I seem to recall Curtis Clark putting forward this position). It does seem to be very common in Wikipedia articles; certainly more common than in running text. Should English names in tables and lists be treated differently?

Peter coxhead (talk) 21:37, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree with using "standard" styling in running text. I also agree with following the capitalization employed by the source when listing common names (be careful that a capitalized name in a source isn't simply being presented in title case). As far as lists, using capitals seems appropriate if potential sources would do so (List of the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland lacks sources, but presumably any potential source would use caps). I think there may be some tendency in standard English writing to use title case in a list of items. I don't think we should seek an exception to the Manual of Style, but MOS:LIST only prescribes sentence/lower case for bulleted/numbered lists. Does that mean non-bulleted/numbered lists may employ title case? It's not clear to me.
I've also seen MOS cited regarding hyphens in some common names, and some common names use non-standard spacing (e.g. redcedar). I think using standard forms in running text and sourcing a mention of an "official" form that doesn't conform to standard English usage is a good way to handle the some of the hyphenated and unspaced common names. I'd understood hyphens to indicate something about taxonomy (i.e., that "Douglas-fir" isn't a fir in Abies). I was looking at some common names in the in List of the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland, and was surprised at how abundant and varied the use of hyphens was in names for British plants. Some indicate taxonomy ("Golden-saxifrages" aren't Saxifraga), some indicate a trait of the plant ("Water-crowfoots" are aquatic Ranunculus), and some play a connective role ("Sally-my-handsome"). Hyphens are complicated, but Peter's points above should perhaps apply to some of them. Plantdrew (talk) 01:34, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Capitalization of words in lists and headings, and copying capitalization patterns from specialist sources, are distinctly at odds with normal wikipedia style. Is there something special about plants that would make people want to go that way, or is still just another case of people liking to capitalize the important terms in their domain, like how the dog breeders capitalize dog breeds and the astronomers capitalize comet and galaxy (in contexts like Halley's Comet and Andromeda Galaxy), even though most non-specialist sources don't do so? When there are specialist organizations making lists, we can credit them for their official names and styles, but those shouldn't be the ones we normally use, not even in lists. Hyphens are complicated, true; I'm thinking we should choose from among commonly used styles, choosing those most like "normal" English – much like we do with trademarks. Dicklyon (talk) 02:08, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree with User:Dicklyon here. What style a source used is irrelevant. The vast majority of sources don't tell you their motivation behind their capitalization style decisions and even if they did it was their application of their own style guide to their publication. Here we apply MOS:LIFE. As User:SMcCandlish said, we're not in the position of ratifying each style decision as it applies to our interests. So, simply put, regardless of the source or your personal preference, use sentence case except in cases where the name contains a proper noun, of course. Be consistent and use sentence case on lists - nothing special about them - unless it falls under the first-word-of-a-sentence/first-word-of-a-bulleted-or-numbered-list clause. I believe I've applied this correctly in the non-bulleted list, List of Drosera species though I admit I could be wrong on some of the proper nouns. Anyway, others can continue on discussing here, but I see no need for further discussion since consensus already exists. If you'd like to challenge consensus on this point again, the proper forum is elsewhere or a RFC is in order. So, let's update WP:PLANTS#Plant article naming conventions, WP:FLORA#Scientific versus common names, and Wikipedia:TOL#Common name capitalization to reflect MOS:LIFE and work to implement this style consistently when you encounter it (or ignore it and wait for someone else to do it, just as long as you don't actively work against it). Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 02:56, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
If I have understood Dicklyon correctly, I also broadly agree: When there are specialist organizations making lists, we can [I would say "should"] credit them for their official names and styles, but those shouldn't be the ones we normally use. I assume by "ones" in the last clause, "styles" is meant, not "names".
No, there is nothing special about the English names of plants, nor birds, nor breeds (where the capitalizers have convinced even SMcCandlish – see his draft of MOS:ORGANISM), nor galaxies. My concern is, and always has been, the tension between maintaining a uniform style and respecting sources, particularly authoritative ones. I prefer to maintain a high level of precision in reporting sources, including style; others prefer to maintain a uniform style across articles regardless of the sources. We simply disagree as to the balance between the two desirable objectives, precision of reporting sources and uniformity in style across articles. We aren't going to persuade one another, so the majority should rule; hopefully with at least some compromises with the minority.
(Aside: some inaccurate statements have been made above about my personal views on capitalizing English plant names in Wikipedia. I have rewritten large parts of two articles and taken them through to GA status. The capitalization of English names in the two articles follows the predominant source(s): Cactus uses lower-case, Schlumbergera uses upper-case. This, and this alone, is my personal view: follow the (predominant) sources; be consistent within articles.)
I would like to see some more editors commenting on lists and tables. I'm not myself arguing that they should be an exception, merely pointing out that in practice they often are, and remembering that somewhere there has been a discussion in which this was treated as a separate issue, so it should be separately decided on here.
I would also say that Rkitko's use of "consistently" is important: if a plant article consistently uses capitalized common names, randomly converting the odd example to lower case is not helpful; consistency within articles is also an important principle. Convert the lot, or leave it to others to do so.
Please don't let's discuss hyphens here – one issue at a time! We can discuss this later, if people wish to do so. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:03, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, I meant "those shouldn't be the name-styles we normally use for those names". That is we, can credit an official source for "Sweet Willaim" if that's what they use, and still use "sweet william" throughout the article. For all of the common plant names that I have checked, including the ones with jack, robin, and william, lowercase is more common in sources; if there are some for which uppercase is more common in sources, we still use lower case, unless, the capitalization in sources is "consistent" (almost always), as it is with proper name parts (e.g. Banksia is pretty consistently capitalized in sources). Dicklyon (talk) 20:03, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I think that "Banksia" is mostly capitalized in sources because: (a) it's often the genus name Banksia – how can you exclude this from searches? (b) all but one species is endemic to Australia so when it's used as an English name it's mostly capitalized because (as is demonstrated above) Australian sources mostly capitalize the English names of plants. If "Banksia" is to be capitalized as an English name, then so should "Fuchsia", "Dahlia", "Rudbeckia", etc. but not other genus names which are also used as English names. So in a list of plants grown in a garden, you might see "honeysuckle Fuchsia, Japanese anemone, imperial Dahlia, alpine clematis, orange Rudbeckia". Is this really what you want? I'm sure it would lead to endless copy-edits to "correct" the odd capitalization.
It's also illogical to use occurrence in sources to decide to capitalize "Banksia" but not the other part of the English name. In all the cases I've tried in a Google ngram, where the English names occurs a reasonable number of times in total, the fully capitalized version of the English name (e.g. "Coast Banksia") and fully lower-case form (e.g. "coast banksia") are more-or-less similar in occurrence, and the form you seem to be recommending (e.g. "coast Banksia") simply doesn't show up at all.
I think that SMcCandlish has provided the right rule if lower-case English names are to become the standard. When a person's name is involved, only capitalize if it is the actual name of a specific individual. Thus "Lawson's pine", "jack pine", "Good's banksia", "Steyermark's fuchsia", "sweet-william" or "sweet william", "jack-go-to-bed-at-noon". Over-ruling the styles in sources in this way is something I still find hard to accept, but if we are to do it, this is surely the right way. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:29, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I've long advocated using uncapitalized common names of plants, and agree with Dicklyon here. The last time this came up, I pointed out that there was an abundance of reliable generalist sources, British and American, that could be consulted on the capitalization of "ragged robin" (they all agreed that the "r" in "robin" should be uncapitalized). I think it would be silly to start an article with, say, "Ragged robin[insert all of the citations found in my link above], or Ragged Robin[insert link to BSBI's webpage]...", and I don't see any reason to grant BSBI precedence in determining the styling of plant names. I would, however, be willing to grant the use of capital letters if, say, there were a category in taxoboxes for the official BSBI common name (although I would strongly oppose adding that category to taxoboxes), or if there were a "list of official BSBI common names for plants" with links to the relevant article for each species. Tdslk (talk) 21:00, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Since the great majority of plant articles should be at the scientific name, following WP:PLANTS policy (which has strong support in the project), few articles would start in this way. They would start with the scientific name, as does Lychnis flos-cuculi. They would then go on to list English names, each sourced, which would include for this species "ragged robin" (which could be sourced to USDA) as well as "Ragged-Robin" (which could be sourced to the BSBI or any number of British or Irish sources). (Of course, both of these are "specialist" sources; I'm not quite sure what you would count as "generalist" sources – I guess ones not primarily about plants, though why these should be considered more reliable than USDA or the BSBI or the Open University's iSpot still baffles me.) In the event that it was desired to use the English name in the running text of the article instead of the scientific name, then the commonest lower-case form would be chosen. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:51, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Including both sentence case (sourced) and title case (also sourced) is unacceptable. We could be endlessly including and sourcing all the different styles we find out there. As far as I'm concerned and as far as existing consensus is concerned, the vernacular name from a source "Ragged Robin" is exactly equivalent to "ragged robin" (ignoring the hyphen issue for now). You simply take the name from whatever source you found it in and apply our style guide. If there's a difference in hyphenation and that's deemed significant enough to mention the plant is known as "ragged robin or as ragged-robin" then you use sentence case for both, but that seems a bit excessive to me to mention both. Rkitko (talk) 22:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
So having over-ridden the deliberate capitalization of the source, you then over-ride the deliberate hyphenation? In the case of "ragged robin"/"ragged-robin", it doesn't much matter. In cases such as "Douglas-fir" and "alternate-leaved golden-saxifage" it does matter: Douglas-firs aren't firs and golden-saxifrages aren't saxifrages. Trying to make the English names of plants as unambiguous as possible is surely a worthy aim and should be respected within a project which prefers scientific names because they are precise.
Anyway, I've made the points I wish to make, so I'll leave all this to others to decide. Peter coxhead (talk) 05:44, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

USDA FEIS database links

It appears that links to the USDA FEIS database have changed. As a medically-interested editor I noticed and fixed the problem in Toxicodendron radicans, and then looked to see if this is pervasive and fixed Quercus dumosa, but there are many more. I don't see how to automate this for a bot to fix, because the conversion of the links does not follow a pattern that I can discern. Perhaps members of your project will be interested in repairing these links. -- Scray (talk) 11:12, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Italics for higher taxa

Doesn't the current code for botanical nomenclature state that all plant taxa should be printed in italics? If so, many articles may need to be fixed (e.g. Poaceae)—GRM (talk) 15:30, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

The preface to the code states the following:
That is, the Code itself italicises higher taxa, and would quite like others to do so, but does not require it. Some journals do (e.g. Taxon & Plant Systematics and Evolution), but the vast majority do not. The Wikipedia Manual of Style tends to follow a kind of majority rule, which in this case means the existing consensus is to only italicise the genus-group and below. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:42, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
Also, it's desirable to have consistency between different groups of organisms. The zoological code says at B.6: "The scientific names of genus- or species-group taxa should be printed in a type-face (font) different from that used in the text", thus differentiating between taxa above and below the genus level. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:57, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Optional sections of Wikipedia:WikiProject_Plants/Template

Moved from Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Plants/Template#Subsections_for_Uses: moved to more watched venue Plantdrew (talk) 02:24, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Following some recent discussions concerning WP:MEDRS, I think it would be useful to keep content on traditional medical uses separate from uses supported by modern medicine. Some plant articles attract non-MEDRS modern medical claims. Claims about traditional uses don't have to be supported by MEDRS sources (but should still be supported by WP:RS). Separation could be achieved by suggesting headers for sections in the template. Would "Traditional medicine" and "Modern medicine" by good section headers? I welcome other suggestions.Plantdrew (talk) 07:31, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Ideally keep the word "medicine" out of the section on traditional uses. One possibility is to put medical uses supported by MEDRS under "Uses", and herbal uses under "Culture".
Actually I find several parts of the suggested template a bit odd. "Cultivation" is separated from "Uses" by "Toxicity", whereas cultivation is surely a use. A more rational pattern might be:
Conservation (optional)
Biochemistry (optional) [not sure about the title, but should discuss all known chemistry of the plant; any well-supported evidence of metabolites with likely uses, including medical, could be put here]
Toxicity (optional subsection)
Uses (optional)
Cultivation (optional subsection)
Medicine (optional subsection, always supported to WP:MEDRS standards)
Culture (optional)
Associated legends and myths (optional subsection)
Herbal use (optional subsection)
The understanding should be that particularly long subsections can be promoted to full sections, but maintaining the ordering.
I'm not sure how many people watch this page; if there aren't many responses, we should perhaps move the discussion to the main WP:PLANTS talk page. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:48, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I like this arrangement for the most part. "Herbal use" is more appropriate than my suggestion, but seems imprecise; are culinary herbs included? There are probably more plant articles with general chemistry sections than ones with toxicity sections. Call it "Phytochemistry"? I do think Cultivation should be a either be a section (not a sub), or not mentioned in the template at all. If a Cultivation section is appropriate, the article is a probably better organized in a way other than what the Template recommends. A widespread crop doesn't need "Distribution and habitat", but might mention wild origins under a "History" section, and might have "Diseases and pests" instead of "Ecology". Cultivation suggests a consistent title for a section (vs. "Farming", "In agriculture", but otherwise gets into stuff more appropriate to Wikiproject Agriculture. Plantdrew (talk) 02:54, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that "cultivation" should be subsumed into "uses"; the order of the optional sections is a little arbitrary since it's unlikely that a plant would (for example) merit all three sections. But neither should be assume that any plant that merits a section on its cultivation doesn't also merit "distribution" and "ecology" sections: looks at a plant like Brosimum alicastrum or Bactris gasipaes. I'm opposed to replacing "medicinal" with "medicine" - medicinal plants are a class of uses which may or may not actually have supportable drug claims (and when they do, they may be radically different). Herbal use, similarly, is overly vague and potentially confusing, especially since there's just as much history (if not more) of using spices medicinally (doing the same with herbs reflects the fact that herbs are generally temperate, while spices are generally tropical (so traditional English medicinals were herbs, not spices, before the 16th century or so). Many plants span a continuum including traditional medicines, culinary spices and entheogens.

As for biochemistry versus phytochemistry - the latter is a subset of the former. It's probably not a hair worth splitting. Guettarda (talk) 06:52, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the order of the optional sections is somewhat arbitrary (but I still think that Cultivation should be close to if not included in Uses).

Plants definitely do span a continuum from culinary herbs, herbal remedies through to modern medical uses. However, Wikipedia policies don't, and this has caused problems (e.g. recently at Artemisia absinthium). Basically any medical claim has to be supported to the standards of WP:MEDRS; reports of historical herbal uses don't. This is one reason to try to see if there could be a clearer separation, but maybe it doesn't work. Without it, though, enthusiasts for WP:MEDRS will continue to delete what I and others regard as cultural history or ethnobotany. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:22, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Which is my point - we shouldn't focus on medicine - few enough plants are actually used medically that it's not worth creating a special case for them. "Medicinal" plants, on the other hand, refer to (often historical) use. The more you keep the two ideas separate, the less likely it is to fall afoul of overzealous application of MEDRS (which is, mind you, and important guideline). Guettarda (talk) 17:05, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Classification/nomenclature for ferns

A tricky issue has been raised at Talk:Fern#Outdated classification. There is widespread agreement in reliable sources as to the phylogeny of ferns, producing the following arrangement of extant clades:

lycophytes (club mosses, spike mosses, quillworts)
ferns (including horsetails)

What there doesn't seem to be in up-to-date reliable sources is any agreement on a formal taxon name or even a less formal clade name. In terms of taxoboxes, the four choices seem to be:

  1. Division Pteridophyta
  2. (unranked) Pteridophytes
  3. Division Monilophyta
  4. (unranked) monilophytes
  • The Division Pteridophyta as traditionally defined includes lycophytes, so this sense is obsolete. Some recent papers are still using the name in this way, e.g. here, but we should surely not do so.
  • There are sources which explicitly use "pteridophyte" to mean "fern" in the modern sense, i.e. including horsetails but excluding lycophytes – e.g. Appendix 1 of Wearn et al. (2013).
  • It's possible that there are recent reliable sources which define "Pteridophyta" in the same sense, but I don't know of one: most of the many recent papers using the term "Pteridophyta" don't define it, merely using it in conjunction with a fern family, e.g. "Aspleniaceae, Pteridophyta", so either the traditional or the modern sense could be intended.
  • There are sources which use "monilophyte" to mean "fern" in the modern sense – e.g. Christenhusz (2011).
  • There are also recent sources which use Division Monilophyta to mean fern (see e.g. a Google Scholar search for "Monilophyta" since 2009). However, "monilophyte" and "Monilophyta" are much less common in the recent literature than "pteridophyte" and "Pteridophyta" according to Google Scholar searches.

There doesn't seem to be anything equivalent to the APG whose nomenclature could be said to be consensual. However, we need a classification, both for taxoboxes and for article titles. (Clearly in the text all the sourced alternatives should be explained.)

The advantage of "monilophytes" is that it avoids confusion between the traditional and modern senses of "pteridophytes", but on the other hand it's clearly less common.

All comments and advice greatly welcomed! Peter coxhead (talk) 13:39, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Plant Physiology's DOIs

Hey, does anyone have any idea why Plant Physiology's DOIs never work? Wikipedia's citation filler always returns "Error NAN". I'm getting the same problem with Plant Cell, another ASPB journal.—Kelvinsong (talk) 21:32, 14 June 2013 (UTC)


Christmas tree cultivation, an article that you or your project may be interested in, has been nominated for an individual good article reassessment. If you are interested in the discussion, please participate by adding your comments to the reassessment page. If concerns are not addressed during the review period, the good article status may be removed from the article.--FutureTrillionaire (talk) 20:17, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Cornell Plantations, an article that you or your project may be interested in, has been nominated for an individual good article reassessment. If you are interested in the discussion, please participate by adding your comments to the reassessment page. If concerns are not addressed during the review period, the good article status may be removed from the article.--FutureTrillionaire (talk) 20:36, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Puya chilensis

Can somebody please investigate and inject some documented, factual information into the Puya chilensis article? There is some garbage being added to to a recent article about this "sheep-eating plant" due to a recent BBC article (see recent edits as well as comments on the talk page). I've done a bit of checking but aside from some casual comments that the spines occasionally trap birds and small animals, I can find no credible sources about its supposed carnivory of these animals, much less sheep. (talk) 14:34, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

This source is the only one I could find supporting the idea that the plant traps sheep (but not eating them, and not calling it the "sheep-eating plant").[5] Someone should search Spanish language sources, I think. First Light (talk) 15:10, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
I missed seeing your comment with that source, First Light. I found the claim in the 1997 edition of Mabberly's Plant Book (I'd prefer to use older sources to get some sense of the history of the claim). Mabberly says "...hazardous to sheep which get entangled in them, as do birds, the nutrients from which, as well as those from their dropping may be absorbed (? foliar)" The telegraphic style omits the leaf spines as the entangling part, but covers most of the other points of the claim. Foliar absorption seems unlikely; it seems to me Mabberly is tryig to make sense of a folkloric claim. I also looked for Spanish sources and couldn't find anything about sheep specifically; a different claim (spines are to keep herbivores away from the base of the plant) is made in Spanish sources discussing the plants spines. Plantdrew (talk) 20:11, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Solanales taxonomist?

I believe that Solanales Juss. ex Bercht. & J.Presl, 1820 is correct.[6] However, I have seen Solanales Dumort., 1829 in respectable publications, the latest mention in a Taxon article; although earlier than the APG III and Reveal works, if Taxon quotes a later name, there is usually a good reason. Can anyone clear this up? --AfadsBad (talk) 16:50, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. Up to APG II (2003), Solanales Dumort. seems to have been used, based on Reveal (1993), Taxon 42: 839. But then APG III (2009) switched to Solanales Juss. ex Bercht. & J.Presl. So the justification for the change should have been published somewhere between 2003 and 2009... Peter coxhead (talk) 19:50, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Reveal has a database of discovered suprageneric names that he maintains. The work of finding these names that might or might not satisfy the requirements of the Code of Nomenclature has been going on for some time, and continues. Dumort.'s name has been supplanted by the earlier homonym. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 20:01, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
By the way, for those not familiar with Reveal's database, "NAMES ARRANGED BY GENERA" on the index page actually means by alphabetic order regardless of rank. Thus "Compositae Giseke" is under "C" in this index block. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:21, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, I forgot about that on-line resource. I have added it to the Solanales articles. And, yes, that is the problem, there is nothing in Taxon, the most expected source, for this change for such an important order of plants. (I guess they all are important. --AfadsBad (talk) 21:38, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
This is actually quite a complicated matter. If you care to, you could read Dr Reveal's lengthy exposition here, (though I'd suggest that it's difficult material, and I can't offer myself as an example of someone who fully understands it!). One component is that the names above the rank of family are not so tightly constrained, for example, by questions of priority. Also, in matters where the Code of Nomenclature dictates which name should be used, in practice some of the literature had been overlooked. When J. L. Reveal came up with his large list of names extracted from the older literature, there was consternation that a majority of the botanical literature had been using the "wrong" names. Consequently, the Code has been altered in some subtle ways to try to maintain stability. However, stating which name is the correct one, or the best choice (since most of these names are not absolutely dictated) is not usually something that would be published in Taxon, because each botanist is expected to be able to apply the rules of nomenclature and thereby discover for themselves which name ought to be used. In Wikipedia we have been following the APG publications, which is a good approach, but the choices made there are not the only possibilities. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 23:38, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm not a taxonomist, but it seems that I have seen other instances with discussions of names and authorities of taxa above genera in Taxon. That I see major papers all of the time using different authorities, kinda shows that botanists can't "discover for themselves," though. Well, I picked APG III, the Kew summary and Reveal to source the authority to, and that, I think is sufficient for a general encyclopedia written by anyone? I will read the link, thanks for posting it. --AfadsBad (talk) 01:00, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Nymphaea caerulea

Can someone with more expertise than I tell me if Nymphaea caerulea has been confirmed and accepted as a variety of Nymphaea nouchali (Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (Savigny) Verdc.)? Kew Plant List thinks so, though not with full confidence.[7] If so, the merging of those two articles will be a bit messy, since both are longstanding articles of some importance (national flower of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, in the case of N. nouchali, and the sacred blue lotus of lotus-eater fame in the case of N. caerulea. First Light (talk) 22:50, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, they appear as distinct but related species in the phylogenetic trees (e.g. Figs 1 and 2) in this 2012 paper. So when Nymphaea has been fully reviewed by WCSP, the conclusion may be different. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:25, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
N. nouchali var. caerulea was published in 1989, and presumably wasn't based on any molecular evidence. With the molecular study above, and with recent sources still treating it as N. caerulea, it seems to me that keeping them as separate species is the way to go. (Tropicos lists 3 sources post 1989 that treat it as N. caerulea ([8]), and only one that treats it as a variety ([9]). Plantdrew (talk) 16:27, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks all, that sounds right to keep them separate. First Light (talk) 16:46, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Heirloom plants

Could someone please check the parent cat for this? Many thanks, Anna Frodesiak (talk) 12:27, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure how to link commons categories, but the subcategories of the parents (Crops and Plants) are awfully messy/confusing. Cultivated Plants seems like a better parent than Crops (to me, Crops implies commercial scale agriculture, but heirloom varieties are usually cultivated on a non-commercial scale), and Cultivated Plants is a parent of Crops. "Plants" as a parent is overly broad.
"Heirloom plants" is not very precise itself. "Heirloom plant varieties" might be a better title for the category. Or "Heirloom fruits and vegetables varieties"? Plantdrew (talk) 02:48, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I seem to recall coming across heirloom varieties of cultivated plants (e.g. heirloom roses), in which case placing heirloom plants as a subcategory of crops would be questionable. Lavateraguy (talk) 11:42, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Agree that "Cultivated plants" would be a better supercat than "Crops" (mea culpa), and many garden flowers are heirloom plants. Flowers can be crops, though, if grown for profit.
Yes, heirloom plant doesn't seem to have a precise meaning. (There is, I've heard, an algal culture used as famine food in China that is passed around like an heirloom crop.) However, I'm bothered by the term variety, which has technical meanings in botanical nomenclature and in law that are quite different, and in common usage, which would seem to be the one needed here, it is utterly vague. I think, therefore, that "Heirloom plants" might be the best option. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:32, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Commons:Category:Heirloom plants, and then if you want to show a WP category in the text just put a ":" in front :- "[[:Category:" or it will go at the bottom of the page and put the page in the category. ~ R.T.G 14:22, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Botany or plant science(s)?

It seems to be widely known that "botany" is now regarded as an old-fashioned term that has been replaced by "plant science(s)" in the titles of many (most?) University departments and degrees. In the UK, after this academic year there will be no botany degrees, as can be sourced (e.g. here). Web searches suggest to me that the same trend is happening elsewhere in the world, but this is OR. It's a topic I'd like to add to Botany. Does anyone have reliable sources for such changes in terminology in the US or other English-speaking countries? Peter coxhead (talk) 22:05, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

My sense is that in US universities, a major trend was to reorganize biological sciences into departments like "Ecology and Evolutionary Biology" and "Molecular and Cellular Biology", with people studying both plants and animals in each department. There may be several other biological science departments as well. EEB departments still have people doing traditional botany (and zoology) research: e.g. systematics, ecology (floristics and alpha taxonomy aren't very well supported). EEB departments may award degrees in botany and zoology (more likely at the graduate than undergraduate level). There are still some botany departments, and undergrad botany degrees offered through other departments. Plant Science/Plant Biology is something I'd expect to be more often applied than theoretical (e.g. plant breeding research, but not systematics), and perhaps associated with a university's school of agriculture rather than a school of science. I haven't found any really good sources with a quick search, but this article ([10]) provides an introduction, and Googling "reorganization of university biology programs" (without quotes) gives several results about biology departments at specific universities. Plantdrew (talk) 04:09, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the information. However, note at Duke the department was already called "Plant Biology" not "Botany".
I can find individual sources giving the history of name changes; e.g. Cornell lost the word "botany" in 1980. Searching for "reorganization of university botany programs" produces other examples of the disappearance of "botany" (Iowa State, Tennesse, Toronto in Canada, etc.). So I'm confident that the word "botany" is becoming (or has become) considered old-fashioned in English-speaking academia, but I'd love to find a non-UK source which says so! Peter coxhead (talk) 19:36, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Being in English-speaking botany academia now, my impressions is that this is just a phenomenon of department titles and cannot be applied more widely to the prevalence of the word "botany" in general. It's certainly a trend among departments to drop their botany, zoology, and entomology departments and instead combine many of those faculty into EEB or EEOB programs focusing on processes and interactions. I'm in one of these departments now - Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. My undergrad college was too small to have a botany or EEB/EEOB major, but within our biology major we still had a botany concentration in 2005 when I graduated. Regardless, this is only a reflection of how large university bureaucracies choose to name and organize their departments and I do not think it reflects any sentiment toward the word "botany" as being old-fashioned. Rkitko (talk) 14:58, 27 June 2013 (UTC)


Hello, I started a discussion at a list of plants in a particular genus, but it's a rather obscure place to make a suggestion, especially that isn't specific to the genus, so I think I should copy query here. "Wow, scientific naming wildfire has rendered long lists like this totally useless to anyone who didn't already know what they were looking for, specialized college grads etc. Why does there have to be a war between the scientific and the vernacular? Why are BOTH nomenclature not strictly adhered to throughout for the sake of the war between effective dissemination and ritualistic practice??" And why not? Is the information a ritual or a guidance? ~ R.T.G 17:11, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

You seem to have started the same discussion a few minutes ago on a category page for a subfamily, Faboideae. This is not a list article. The Faboideae article does have a list of genera, and some articles with lists of genera include common names. A lot of Faboideae don't have common names, but you can add any that you know (and can source).
There is no ritual; the guidance appears to be to include both; it just needs a volunteer to do it. --AfadsBad (talk) 17:59, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Quite correct, but User:RTG should note the requirement for a source. Wikipedia has far too many lists of English names for plants with no source given. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:24, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
It was at Category:Faboideae. Indeed there are strict rituals in place. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora) states, "Scientific names are to be used as article titles in all cases except when a plant has an agricultural, horticultural, economic or cultural use that makes it more prominent in some other field than in botany; e.g. rose, apple, watermelon. These exceptions are determined on a case-by-case basis through discussion towards consensus," but this strict principle actually flies in the face of the general guidelines which I will go out on a limb to trust (I've read them a lot in the past) there is something about using English somewhere in it. I understand calling a spade a "Flat headed digging tool," but it does make better sense to call it a "Flat headed digging tool (Spade)". ~ R.T.G 00:26, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
And indeed, case by case analysis of a subjects significance is red tape when you could have just evaluated its existence and accepted it on *that* qualification, no? Is it important that the information exists, or that it is special? If the subject were not special enough, the place to discuss its significance on a case by case basis is called WP:AFD (articles for discussion/deletion). If a subject is significant enough for inclusion, it is significant enough to have a name. The mainstay of plant growers are gardeners, not botanists. Gardening is a relatively underpublished endeavor. Botany however, may be a rather undergardened endeavor. In the first place, it is not good enough to determine naming upon *value* and *use* (value the use of a daisy), and in the second place, in is not good in the encyclopaediac sense to disclude recognizable names be they scientific, vernacular or whatever, anything straightforward in nature should be straight forward to inclusion. If the guideline was changed, volunteers would become apparent over time as the articles were updated, naturally. If it is not changed, there will be nothing to volunteer for except more suggestion. The first and last note is, things have recognizable names. They are often not included. ~ R.T.G 00:39, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
For example, in the next discussion post below, the Nymphaea caerulea is discussed. Now, I have difficulty even trying to pronounce that name, but more significantly, if I searched Wikipedia for "blue lilly", or just "lilly", the article is likely to remain obscure. Is that good enough? ~ R.T.G 00:44, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
No it wasn't good enough, so I created blue lily as a set index article and linked it from Lily (disambiguation)--Melburnian (talk) 01:40, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I added some photos to Melburnian's blue lily, which should assist readers in finding the article they want, but the the inescapable fact is that a single common name often refers to several plants (see most of the entries in Category:Plant common names) and one plant may have several common names. I've been working a lot on common names for plants, and would welcome further work from other editors. Articles titled by scientific names may not be user friendly for the average reader, but most plants don't have a single unambiguous common name by which they could be titled. I'm dedicated to improving SIAs/DABs/redirects at common names to help readers find what they are looking for, but using common names for article titles on particular plants is rarely practical. Plantdrew (talk) 05:03, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Agree, common names are often ambiguous and avoiding ambiguity in the title of an article of a plant taxon is all important. Blue lily is a case in point, we don't want to confuse plants that are edible with others that are poisonous or cause blindness, so a set index article at the common name alerts the reader to the several different taxa which share this common name and are separately titled by their scientific names --Melburnian (talk) 06:27, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Set articles with images are an excellent idea, in my view, where English names are ambiguous. I'm a little bothered about using a gallery for this purpose, as at Blue lily. For one reason, WP:NOTGALLERY gets used by some editors to delete galleries without much consideration of their value in the article. For another, it takes a bit of work to link up the image with the name when set out that way. What about a table as at Lilium#Taxonomy? Peter coxhead (talk) 08:11, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

I think this is beyond a "mere collections of photographs" of WP:NOTGALLERY, with one photo (ideally) per species and captioned. Additionally, there are usually no common name galleries at commons to link to. I also like the idea of not having to view the images (unless you elect to open the collapsed section) on a smartphone. I would make the gallery pictures a standard size however. I like the setout of the Lilium images (photo next to info) in principle, but in practice the stringing out of the information vertically and the scrolling involved would bother me on a quick reference article such as this (most readers want to get to a specific taxon article ASAP).--Melburnian (talk) 09:04, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Well that blue lilly page is great work. However, as to pointing out that a common name often refers collectively, let us also consider the implication. Collective reference is a thing, but that much information does not suggest it to be a good or a bad thing yet. If a collective name, like (2004 novel), is added to a title, a search for that collective denominator will bring up many various things which are not exactly the same. To find the exact 2004 novel you sought, you will need the exact science of the particular novel. However, if the addition of (2004 novel) were not made, and I search for 2004 novels, I will get hits for everything ever that has an inference to a 2004 novel, not just novels themselves. Even the word used by Melburnian, "Lilium," is new to me, but I come from a place where a white lilly is a political symbol as well known perhaps as a white dove or a rose is symbolic. My neighbor grows decorative flowers every year in massive blooms outside our front doors. I ask, what's this one? What's that one? She knows some quite obscure varieties, but if you asked her to give us a Greek or Roman name for any of them, I doubt she could, just like anyone else, and as the main business of these flowers and plants is in being grown by people not unlike my neighbour, the information contained here should be accessible to her *first* and not last. She is the underinformed in this sense and also the majority. I believe the spirit of the guidelines is to deliver this information to her, and similarly dispositioned, first and specifically. It is the current holders of the information to which the scientific names are most important, rater than the ultimate targets of the information. It does say in the guidelines that an article should be written upon the assumption that the reader has an excellent grasp of the English language, but has no previous knowledge of the subject, and the scientific naming procedure targets neither the English language or the fresh learner. This methodology however, really opens up the possibility of learning over the ability to reference, and I have gained much knowledge from it myself. Ask a language scholar to make something readable, or a math scholar to make something understandable and they will wonder if you've been watching too much Ted Talks, but ask them on Wikipedia and they might give it a go. I would also point out that the speed at which titles are likely to change, which would be quite slowly, should not be a consideration to the value of that change. ~ R.T.G 18:42, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
It's not just Wikipedia that takes this approach. The most popular garden book of all time is the Sunset Western Garden Guide, which is used by every beginner suburban gardener in the western U.S. They too have their articles listed under the single name that is used in every local - the scientific name. They also include some of the common names, though not nearly as many as we do here. Because we are a worldwide resource, we should include every possible common name, from the one used by your neighbor, which might just be a very local name, to the names used in Asia. See Acorus calamus#Names for an example. Many of those names link directly to that article, but you can see that there is endless opportunity for the creation of such redirects, disambiguation pages, and set index pages. (I'm an amateur gardener, and sincerely appreciate that plant articles are titled under the name that is most widely used, which is usually the scientific name.) First Light (talk) 19:57, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't know. Is Wikipedia trying to create or emulate? If you were looking for a blue lilly and it was listed under "Nymphaea caerulea", and like me and several billion others, you've not seen or tried to pronounce the word caerulea, and nympheae is some sort of sexual indication... what good is it then? The only place scientific names are most widely or usually used is in academic texts, except in case of the *truly* obscure varieties for which vernacular names are not actually common at all. Not applicable ever to stuff like daisies. Daisies are this daisy and that daisy, not Bellis perennis or Leucanthemum vulgare. Who would like to claim that Leucanthemum vulgare is a common name for a daisy? Wikipedia disseminates such academic texts, but it does not copy or emulate them by design. That's one of the fundamental pillars of site philosophy. Totally unchallenged, but often circumvented however innocently. ~ R.T.G 21:27, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
But what should the article on Nymphaea caerulea have as its title, if not the scientific name? Certainly not "Blue lily" since as Blue lily shows it's useless as a title because it refers to many different plants. You don't like scientific names; we get that. But in most cases there simply is no alternative that meets the requirement for precision, i.e. lack of ambiguity. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:52, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
The suffix (lily) or (blue lily). In my personal opinion, it should be "Blue lily (Nyphaea caerulea)", but at any rate, things with an English language name should primarily focus on using the English version here on the English language wiki, and the ambiguity measures should amend that and *never* circumvent it. There are strict guidelines on using English on this wiki and biological genera are the only subjects which circumvent that, and rather than considering my brainstorming first, I think you should all consider that first because Wikipedia guidelines, the core ones, are a thousand minds which know what they are doing. Suffixes are not pimples. Pimples are pimples. It is okay to have a suffix once it has a good purpose. If anyone berates any suffixes I will beat them up after school I promise. ~ R.T.G 22:21, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Look I am juggling for a crowd now. You all understand. Aversion is not a lack of understanding, or is it a reason. English is primary on this wiki. When you were kids playing in the grass you held buttercups up to your chins, not ranunculus. There is no ambiguity in that. There is no encyclopaediac reasoning for the scientific names which doesn't begin or end with, someone else did it. That is a pale partner to the Wikipedia guidelines which are, someone else reads it. ~ R.T.G 22:37, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Scientific names are not "only used in academic texts." They are used in the most popular gardening guide ever sold for a very good reason. There are multiple common names for the same plant, and there are multiple plants using the same common name. Like the Sunset Gardening Guide, we do these things because we put the needs of the reader first. The Wikipedia reader lives in rural England, metropolitan U.S., Bangladesh, India, Australia, and more. They all speak English and they all have different names for the same plants. And through the use of redirects and disambiguation pages, this nearly impossible challenge of finding the right plant is achieved. I say "congratulations to Wikipedia and its brilliant plant editors." First Light (talk) 00:41, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
What they call a plant in Bangladesh is of little concern to this wiki, What they call the thing in English speaking countries is the first concern, and after that the native or most prolific regions commonly recognized speech, and after that ambiguous terms are obscure, rare, or not very ambiguous. Trading the **educative** and disseminatory value of the title "Blue Egyptian water lily" for the value of the title "Nymphaea caerulea" is simply sub standard, and the irony is, you are making that trade off based on what you consider standards. The cause is that you will not re-evaluate your familiar standards impartially, and the effect is that you make some really interesting information feel that little bit more unreacheable. Featured article guidelines, for instance, encourage an article to be captivating. Articles which **truly require** scientific terminology in title are the sorts for which a captivating article just could not be written and rather than encourage a name for everything instead, this project has taken that brush and painted everything else with it. If I could think of a single reason why it might be, I would claim there was a vindictive twang off the whole procedure, but even that doesn't make any sense. Which of these questions do not make any sense? Yakkity yak. Certainly, with unwaivering deliberated certainty, if the suggestion does not make sense or is not understandable to you, and I mean you, you, you and you, then you are not much in the way of understanding. ~ R.T.G 23:38, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Doubling up of guideline information

I propose that the section Plant article naming conventions on our main page be moved to and replace the section Scientific versus common names at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora), with a link left on the main page. I think that the wording of the former is more clearly expressed, and that removing the doubling up of similar information on two separate project pages will avoid confusion. Any objections?--Melburnian (talk) 07:35, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants#Plant article naming conventions is an old, barely modified copy of a past version of a similar section at WP:FLORA. Over the years, WP:FLORA has been altered but the guideline on our project page, which was meant to just be a copy and not different from WP:FLORA, was not similarly updated with it. It wasn't intended to be a doubling up of info, but from the common ancestral text these two have been tweaked separately since 2007 (the one on the project page less so). We had an article naming convention section on the project page for a while before I rolled out the current project template on 26 May 2007, which included a copy & paste of the contemporary WP:FLORA guideline language. Moving the section from our project page and replacing WP:FLORA#Scientific versus common names would essentially be a reversion to older WP:FLORA language. Make modifications if you think it will clarify the guideline, but perhaps this should be discussed at the guideline's talk page and not here. I don't quite remember why or how the WP:FLORA language diverged from our copy here. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 15:54, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree that it's highly desirable that either the two sections are identical, or the one on our project page has more detail (e.g. more examples, more reasons for the policies) but otherwise says the same. However, I'd like to see a bit more discussion of what should be in the section before the two are aligned. Some issues which concern me are:
  • The need to use the ICNCP name for cultivars rather than the ICN name is not covered. There are articles about vegetables, for example, which have taxoboxes with ICN names whereas there should be a cultivar box with the ICNCP name. The ICN does not cover cultivars.
  • All known common names for a taxon are to be listed in the article about that taxon. The result of this advice, and the example given, is often that articles have long lists of unsourced so-called common names, some not used in English-speaking countries. We need a clearer policy that common names need reliable sources before they can be added, and should only be those used in English-speaking countries.
  • I prefer the advice to create a set index rather than a disambiguation article for ambiguous common names. I'm not sure, though, that this has been discussed sufficiently here, and it would represent a change at WP:FLORA.
Peter coxhead (talk) 16:47, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I cannot understand why this guideline insists that a plant be bought and sold significantly before it is considered common enough in the English language to be named as such. I need only one example to make the implication obvious, Daisy, a disambiguation page where the only things listed which are not called daisies are the daisies themselves. Oops a daisy! ~ R.T.G 18:49, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I really don't understand your point. To me "daisy" = Bellis perennis and this is listed as "common daisy".
The reason WP:PLANTS prefers the scientific name, in general, is that experience shows, over and over again, that there are very few English names which are sufficiently unambiguous to serve as article titles and meet the requirements of WP:AT, which include The title is sufficiently precise to unambiguously identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects.
English names work for birds, for example, because there is an internationally recognized list of English names, one for each of the relatively few species of birds. Even so, many of these names fail the "Recognizability" criterion of WP:AT – they are often not the names that any one interested in birds would use in their own country. For wild plants, there is no equivalent international list. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:46, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
By the way, there's a nice example above of the confusion caused by the use of the English name "skunk cabbage" for plants in different genera with very different properties. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:50, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't really understand, either. The daisy example seems to a be a great example of why not to title articles common names, but I'm not really sure this is what you want done. You seem not to like scientific names on Wikipedia, but do not offer a proposal for something else, so I don't think there is anything to do, but, again, I am not certain what your concerns are. I like the set index pages with images, and I think that is a good idea. --AfadsBad (talk) 21:26, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Note: Nothing would be served in removing the scientific names, in the same way as removing the vernacular names serves to do Nothing of value. Peter, you are absolutely correct that the title is precise, and I can understand that to you, the daisy is the bellis thingimum, but is that fair? Was it not a daisy to you first? I think that tearing off the daisy part is just that, tearing it up instead of extra-labeling it. This is phenomenal only to biological generics here on Wikipedia, and the reasons are not to do with getting information out there in the most understandable way, when guidelines on things such as ambiguity are designed for exactly that. It's a rampant misapplication. On Wikispecies concern is not given *at all* to vernacular naming rendering the open nature of the site pointless. It's just catalogued names, and however precise that catalogue may be, it has no reference value beside an occasional picture. Names without information, like a warehouse full of passport photos with no passports, all signed on the back, but never stuck into anything. And that folks is at the edge of a shame. Referencing is *fundamental* to cataloguing. You won't find that jewel in a book of taxonomy, even if you catalogue the taxonomy book a thousand times, you will not find it to be a guide to cataloguing. Come on Afadsbad, when I brought up the difficulty with the blue lilly you all hopped on it, and it would be a much longer wait, 10 years and more so far, for each ambiguous group to receive a disambiguation page as the blue lilly has now, rather than to label these things "Bellis thingimum (daisy)", which would in turn *encourage* creation of such disambig pages. I will bet I could list several hundred if not a thousand similar subjects as the blue lilly has been until yesterday, and I will give ten to one odds that none of you taking special care of these articles would even be surprised, and yet you would still argue that there is no need to label stuff so that they can be found. Well I say, if they needed not to be labeled, nobody would have created Blue lilly. It is easy to point out that in the specific guideline it says that the only concern for consideration is trade value. Such assertion has zero whatsoever to do with encyclopaediac knowledge outside of articles about trade, or, explain that something to me which is something that I too do not understand. ~ R.T.G 22:11, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
No, I don't get it. I don't see a proposal or goal. Back to articles for me. --AfadsBad (talk) 22:38, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Putting aside discussions of preferred text for the moment, I don't think we should continue the situation of retaining the guideline "Plant article naming conventions" when we have the guideline "Naming conventions (flora)". I think the former should just be retained as a heading with a link underneath to the latter. It is an unnecessary burden to synchronize the two every time there is an update, as evidenced by the content drifting apart over the last six years.--Melburnian (talk) 04:35, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, not really my business but there is no guideline project. If you guys are writing guidelines here, you should put them in the guidelines areas. But if you write them in Greek for precision someone might revert it. ~ R.T.G 14:19, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Actually, it would be unfair not to point out, for AfadsBad, WP:AT says in a lot of words the same thing I do, the practice of using such as scientific names preferentially, is not preferred, but taxonomic articles are steamrolling that. The proposal and goal there is obvious. Guidelines are being written on this project and squirreled away to be inserted at a MUCH later date (18 months since the currently questioned guideline was significantly reworded), and that sort of behavior, in the protracted sense as is this case, opens an easy route to selectivity with regards to scrutiny. Why don't you just agree it would be best to do what the encyclopaedia wants insofar as it doesn't prevent or obscure the information getting out there? ~ R.T.G 17:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
No, that would be a misreading of WP:AT. WP:FLORA is a guideline written to conform with WP:AT and it does so very well. That you don't understand that is not our problem. Go read the archives of the talk page at WP:FLORA and see the lengthy discussions we've had there. This is much larger than this WikiProject, but of course we have an interest in it. Re-read my explanation above and see the discussion in the subsection below: we're not squirreling anything away, it was a simple act of editing and forgetting. We always develop consensus to change guidelines significantly. I don't think it is our job to educate every editor who comes to this talk page or WP:FLORA's talkpage questioning the use of scientific names in long discussions about the consensus for scientific names as article titles where appropriate. It is your responsibility to read the talk page archives to discover that for yourself to catch up and consider how we got to agree on that consensus. Then perhaps your questions will be better informed. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 18:11, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Daisy is the common name for daisy. The flora guideline suggests that is not so, based on the trade value of the daisy. That the trade value of any plant is the first consideration given to its articles title. Of course I don't understand it. That is not a question. Plants are plants first and commodities **LAST**. But maybe I have this question the wrong way around? Indeed the guidelines here have been squirreled away. Why have you even replied to this thread? I do not require re-education from you. I am here to dispute such re-education. To claim that it hampers the flow of the information, and indeed, it does. Which of these questions hasn't been made sense of? Try typing in lavender. Do you get taken to the commonly named article? Indeed you do not. You are redirected to a scientific name. It holds with subjects such as the blue lily which require a wait until editors discover the need to link these articles together when they could have been titled all along. It's silliness misconstrued as procedure. It is vanity considered relevant in the dissemination of education on subjects which have absolutely nothing to do with vanity whatsoever. Which question doesn't make sense? ~ R.T.G 23:19, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
This is off topic now, but if you insist on not reading the guideline thoroughly and carefully... (Though, perhaps if you're confused, you could suggest points of clarification.) Re-read WP:FLORA, especially the Principles section, which indicates why scientific names are preferred in so many cases. The guideline discusses agricultural, horticultural, or other uses of the plants because those uses confer notability to the plant and usually do so under a plant's vernacular name. The more well-known a plant is because of its use, the more likely the vernacular name will be the "name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources." (WP:COMMONNAME). Many other times, the vernacular name will not be more prevalent in reliable sources than the scientific name. Still other times we have to choose the most natural disambiguation because a single vernacular name refers to multiple plants and there is no obvious WP:PRIMARYTOPIC. Other times a single plant has multiple competing vernacular names, none of which appear to be more prevalent than the other - this happens often with species in their native range that become invasive in others. Since there's no obvious vernacular name, the scientific name is used as an article title to settle disputes, for consistency, and for precision. What I was trying to tell you and trying to encourage you to do is to read the history of how we developed the consensus for WP:FLORA and hopefully you'd see that the guideline makes sense in light of our article naming challenges and organization. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 02:30, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Confused? What part of, Wikiproject Plant, the flora parts, are doing it wrong, conversely to what is considered conducive, in which part do you not get that? What on earth do you think I wanted to bring up here? That I have difficulty reading? The direction preferred on Wikipedia, and for good reason, is to avoid technicality through dissemination, and to adhere to English, the language, as much as possible, meaning, not to let go of it unless it is impossible. This method keeps learning smooth across the site. Whatever other concerns there may be about a subject, or a range of subjects, if you aren't sticking to those principles, as well as a few other that are not relevant here, you are doing it wrong. There aren't a lot of these sorts of principles. None of them are very complex. Try thinking about it this way, if in an African wiki, there was a small group of physics experts writing the physics articles, and doing a nice job, but they wanted to focus on the English language. Why? Because almost all physics is written in English. But this is the African language wiki... Yes but I have a verified text here written by Einstein in English and there are twenty words in the whole book which are only in the English language, AND, some of the words we do have translations for can be translated to mean two, or even three things. But aren't we supposed to write this African language wiki in African as best we can? You aren't listening boy, you don't understand!! Haven't you read Popular Physics all your life?? Don't you know who wrote Quantum Entanglement?? Well, erm, no not really... can we just have it in African anyways like everything else? I don't understand you boy!!! And you don't understand me!!! This is physics we are talking about!!! Haven't you heard!!! Don't you know!!! Well, I'd like to, but it's so difficult when you don't try to make it easy to understand... But, but... Encyclpoaedia Brittanica and Microsoft Encarta do stuff... Really? Do they still do stuff? And I thought they did nothing since life breathed into Wikipedia. I thought they had become defunct. Useless. Relics. I find it very hard to say anything bad about the words themselves, because I like the words I speak, and I like the words which are my heritage, and I like some Greek people and Greek history, so the words themselves are cool and fine and great even, but their rampant use is inappropriate to this wiki which clearly says en.wikipedia. They are not scientific names, they are Greek words. A spade is not a μπαστούνι παιγνιοχαρτών, it is a spade. ~ R.T.G 11:45, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Further even to that, the standard format for scientific naming conventionally is abbreviation. It's not compatible. Tis a square peg. ~ R.T.G 11:53, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Quote from Wikipedia, telling us to treat these words as foreign language phrases, "A complete binomial name is always treated grammatically as if it were a phrase in the Latin language (hence the common use of the term "Latin name" for a binomial name). However, the two parts of a binomial name can each be derived from a number of sources, of which Latin is only one. These include:

Latin, either classical or medieval. Thus both parts of the binomial name Homo sapiens are Latin words, meaning "wise" (sapiens) "human/man" (Homo). Classical Greek. The genus Rhododendron was named by Linnaeus from the Greek word ῥοδόδενδρον, itself derived from rhodos, rose, and dendron, tree.[21] Greek words are often converted to a Latinized form. Thus coca (the plant from which cocaine is obtained) has the name Erythroxylum coca. Erythroxylum is derived from the Greek words erythros, red, and xylon, wood.[22] The Greek neuter ending -ον (-on) is often converted to the Latin neuter ending -um.[a] Other languages. The second part of the name Erythroxylum coca is derived from the name of the plant in the Quechua language.[23] Since many dinosaur fossils were found in Mongolia, their names often use Mongolian words, e.g. Tarchia from tarkhi, meaning "brain", or Saichania meaning "beautiful one"." ~ R.T.G 11:56, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Returning to the issue

As noted immediately above, Melburnian's original point got somewhat lost in the discussion about scientific names as titles. I think we need to return to it. I have, as a temporary measure, set out the two texts side by side at WP:PLANTS#Plant article naming conventions, so it's easier to see the differences.

  • At the first mention of "scientific names", I'd like to spell out that this means names under the relevant codes, including the ICNCP.
  • I'd like to say that English names must be sourced, along with all other information.
  • Neither version fully spells out how to handle monotypic taxa (e.g. a single genus in a family but multiple species); this needs to be clarified.
  • The use of a set index article is new in our version and I think is very useful advice.

I'm not sure I have time to work on merging the two and creating a single version; does anyone else? Peter coxhead (talk) 08:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Melburnian is right that the section on our project page should be sacked and replaced with a link to WP:FLORA. Again, however, if you want to make changes to the language at WP:FLORA, you should initiate a discussion there as the most appropriate place since there may be a few other people watching the guideline's page that don't watch our project page. I'd also say in response to your points that we should be wary of instruction creep on the guideline page. Shoot for clear and concise statements. Create a companion project page here that wouldn't be an official guideline but would be a place to dump all of the explanations that might be helpful, but are too complex for the guideline. Also remember that WP:FLORA is a guideline for article titles, not article content, so advice on sourcing English vernacular names would be out of place perhaps. Those are just a few thoughts I had on this endeavor. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 14:46, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Ok, here's a possible way forward.
  • I think it's useful not to have to move pages to read the stuff at WP:FLORA, so I suggest creating a separate template with exactly this material, then it can appear here and at WP:FLORA.
  • After that, I'm willing to edit out the material which will then appear twice on our page (unless anyone else does it first!)
  • Finally, we can discuss at WP:FLORA any additions to the templated common material.
Would people here be happy with this approach? Peter coxhead (talk) 16:19, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I have a counter proposal:
Melburnian's path sounds the most appropriate. Rkitko (talk) 02:30, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
If I understand your proposal correctly, then the problem I see is that if the discussion at WP:FLORA leads to not wanting any of the extra text from WP:PLANTS there, this text will just be lost, whereas it is what we have agreed here. Anyway, let's move forward somehow on this issue! Peter coxhead (talk) 11:07, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Extra text from WP:PLANTS#Plant article naming conventions is effectively already lost as Wikipedia:Manual of Style, Wikipedia:Article titles, Wikipedia:WikiProject Tree of Life, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization) and an endless amount of edit summaries link to the main plant naming convention guideline at WP:FLORA rather than WP:PLANTS#Plant article naming conventions. The information should not be in 3 separate places (including template); it needs to be in one centralised location WP:FLORA with discussion at the associated talk page containing the historical archives that show how the guideline has evolved.--Melburnian (talk) 12:33, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

For the record, almost all the material formerly at WP:PLANTS#Plant article naming conventions is now at WP:FLORA. Two issues which didn't belong there are in new subsections below, flagged as needing attention. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:29, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Dates for taxa above genus

I would like to add dates for taxa above genus to the taxoboxes for plant subfamilies, families, and orders. I am currently adding citations to all of the orders and families, and, as part of this, I have been including dates, which I have seen in some of the articles, and which are included in APG III.

There was a past discussion about this.[12] It fizzled. The discussion was summarized well, so you might want to start there rather than reading the back and forth above.

Here are some of my comments:

  • Only taxa above genera, probably subfamilies, maybe tribes.
  • Dates for genera and species are tricky, and might be beyond the scope of a general encyclopedia, and require taxonomists to get correct. Most arguments that they are helpful for synonymy apply to genera and species.
  • I disagree that a single date, or two for monotypic orders, crowds a taxobox; it's a single additional piece of information in a summary.
  • It does give a feel for when the taxon was named; this is the information for non-botanists, not the ability to access the formal publication.
  • It is not completely non-standard practice for higher taxa; it is used in monographs and other types of publications; it is not forbidden by ICBN, but I don't know what the Melbourne code says about it.
  • For more recently named taxa it could be used to distinguish the particular publication by an author.
  • Our taxoboxes aren't really citations to botanical authorities. I wish we stated the author in the opening sentence of the article.
  • I don't really see it as original research, or as making us look like we're bumbling, to add useful information to a summary box. We are not writing taxonomical articles, where an appropriate and standard citation would be expected; we are writing a general encyclopedia, where this additional information gives a summary idea of the age of the taxon to the reader.

I would like to add the dates to the taxoboxes for orders, families, and subfamilies while citing the authorities. I think it gives some solid information; it does not look cluttered; it's not a lot of work; and we are not a taxonomic publication, but it would be acceptable and is done in taxonomic publications.


  • Laurales Juss. ex Bercht. & J.Presl (1820)
    • Atherospermataceae R.Br. (1814)

Thanks! --AfadsBad (talk) 23:36, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

  • I'm still opposed. It makes us look like we are ignorant of the ICBN convention, and have stupidly applied the ICZN convention to plants. Hesperian 00:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
    • The convention I showed above is used in botanical publications; we would be following botanical literature, not ICZN, as there is no comma. Thanks for the input, Hesperian. --AfadsBad (talk) 04:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Sometime shortly after that linked discussion above, I changed my opinion to oppose this as well. Hesperian's argument was compelling, and even though the ICN doesn't forbid years in the author citation in this proposed form, it does look like the zoological citation conventions have been applied to botanical author citations in error, especially when parentheses are used as that has meaning in the ICZN. There's also something to be said for consistency - if we're not doing it for species and genera, why do it for higher taxa? Rkitko (talk) 02:04, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
    • See above, in response to Hesperian, about ICZN publications, and below; they contain the comma; but, the suggestion is to follow the form in botanical literature (APG III). And below, in response to Curtis Clark; we can do it for higher taxa because the information is available in reliable secondary and tertiary sources, as is the form of the citation; genera and species, for consistency's sake, will infrequently have the information available except in primary sources, requiring original research for editors to include it. Thanks for the input, Rkitko. --AfadsBad (talk) 04:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
  • [ec] I'm also still opposed, primarily because of something Hesperian brought up in the original discussion: the nomenclatural year is not always the apparent year of publication. In that case, including the year of publication as part of an author citation would be actively misleading. As someone mentioned in the original discussion, arguably the zoologists do it right, but as a result of that, their dates are much more reliable. But if the decision is to have dates, I think they need to be referenced from reliable secondary sources, since in that case a taxonomist has already done the legwork. Now ducking back into my extended wikibreak.--Curtis Clark (talk) 02:16, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
    • Authorities should never be referenced solely to the original publication for an encyclopedia. This is why genera and species should be excluded; because there may be only a single publication, and volunteer writers of an encyclopedia would be required to do original research in taxonomy to find the correct date. Families, orders, and subfamilies are routinely published with information available in reliable, primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. If nomenclatural year is only misleading when cited to the original publication, then that is a non-issue. Thanks for taking the time for some taxonomist input. --AfadsBad (talk) 04:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Okay, I can see the writing on the wall. Thank you all for taking time to post (not trying to dismiss additional comments). I disagree that it looks like ICZN, because of the comma; I see it included in plenty of publications. I am not sure who would think we are mistaken, casual readers would not know, taxonomists would see that it is in the form of publications that include this information (APG III, for example).

Still, it would be easier to pursue an agreement about how and where to systematically include the information outside of the taxobox (and how). Do editors have input on this, instead? Authorities have a single line at the bottom of the page in their articles that, when you fill in the brackets, produces a set apart statement about the standard form of their name. Can we make and add something like this for authorities? We could do full citations, and fill in whatever part is known? -AfadsBad (talk) 04:22, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

"...the nomenclatural year is not always the apparent year of publication. In that case, including the year of publication as part of an author citation would be actively misleading.... I think they need to be referenced from reliable secondary sources, since in that case a taxonomist has already done the legwork."

I am not saying that authorities should be referenced to the original publication; they should never be referenced solely to the original publication for an encyclopedia. This is why genera and species should be excluded; because there may be only a single publication, and volunteer writers of an encyclopedia would be required to do original research in taxonomy to find the correct date. Families, orders, and subfamilies are routinely published with information available in reliable primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.

If nomenclatural year is only misleading when cited to the original publication, then that is a non-issue. Thanks for taking the time for some taxonomist input. --AfadsBad (talk) 04:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

I too am opposed to routinely including the date in the taxobox for plants, for the reasons others give above.
When there is a Taxonomy section, then the date of publication can naturally be given in the text there: "Name was first published by Author(s) in Year..."
A somewhat related issue: there are a set of categories "Category:Plants described in ...". If you follow the category hierarchy, this leads to Category:Species by year of formal description, so these categories are really "Plant species described in ...". I wonder about a different arrangement, which would allow higher taxa to be included in either this or a different category hierarchy. This would allow further recognition of the date a name was established, regardless of whether it was a species or not. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:30, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Adding that I too am opposed to adding dates for higher taxa for the reasons mentioned above. If we put in the date for names above the rank of family, it gives the impression that we believe that the principle of priority applies, which it does not. The minor difference in formatting from the way that the zoologists form their authority attributions is, I think, likely to be overwhelmed by the impression that the page has been edited either by a zoologist or by one of those dangerous non-comforming botanists (whose publications the nomenclaturally conformist botanists ignore). Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:47, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I forgot, that is part of the reason I was okay with doing it for families in the first place, because it does not, but I see that the opposition is strong. I would like to include the nomenclatural date, then, in the article, but it would be good to just add a template, as opposed to calling it a nomenclature date. Would that be satisfactory? --AfadsBad (talk) 15:57, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm not quite clear what you mean by adding a template, as opposed to simply explaining the origin and date of the name in the text.
We do need to be careful here, as Smithopsis84 notes above, because although Reveal et al. seem to be applying priority as per recommendation 16A of the ICN, it's still not a requirement, as is made clear in 11.10. Further, once you move outside the orders of APG, the entire classification system, let alone names, is very problematic (see #Classification/nomenclature for ferns above). Peter coxhead (talk) 16:29, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
It would allow me to add all of the information from reliable secondary and tertiary sources to the articles with almost no research. If I have to say it was published in, or is the nomenclature date, this would require explanations within the text or additional research. The idea, for me, right now, is simply to update the fundamental info in the articles with reliable sources, then, hopefully, move on to editing the content, plant descriptions, geographical distributions, economically important clades/species within the order, make them more useful articles. --AfadsBad (talk) 15:45, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Hesperian argued (in a discussion largely about species and genera) that including dates makes it look like we are "accidentally applying the zoological convention." While the code used to mandate including authorities at all ranks, I'm not sure that this provision was ever widely observed at the family and order level. Standard practice in botany, as far as I can tell, has almost always omitted authorities for families, and including the authority looks strange to me. Adding dates looks strange too. I'm not advocating adding dates, just food for thought; if adding family authorities, we may be getting away from standard botanical convention (although following a widely ignored provision of the Code). (A quick Google scholar search suggests that Russian botanists are more likely to include family authority than botanists from other countries)
Category:Species by year of formal description is dangerous, and we are very much "accidentally applying the zoological convention" when filing plant species in this category. Not that I'm opposed to categorizing species by date of formal description, but there's massive potential for confusion (and it's actually much safer to categorize genera and families by date of description than species). The issue is that in the ICZN, priority lies with the epithet, while in the ICNafp, priority lies with the combination. As an example, take Aus bus Jones, 1850 and Zus bus Smith, 1900. If a 2013 publication lumps Aus into Zus, a replacement name will be needed. Under the ICZN, Aus bus Jones is the older bus epithet, and Zus bus Smith will need a replacement name. Under the ICNafp, Zus bus Smith is the older combination in Zus, and the Jones name will need to be replaced. Under the ICZN, the combining publication has no bearing on priority, which is why zoologists don't cite combining authorities. Maybe we need an additional set of categories like Category:Plant binomials by year of publication? Cystopteris tenuis is categorized as a plant described in 1803, but it was Nephrodium tenue that was described in 1803, and the date of publication/priority for C. tenuis is 1827. Plantdrew (talk) 16:39, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Pedantry, but relevant: under the ICZN, bus is a name, not an epithet, which is why it has its "own" date. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:45, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I wrote this short essay a while ago when rolling out more of the species by year categories that had been started by someone else. I took the view that priority was irrelevant and what we were categorizing was an actual plant. If it was first validly described under any name, it was recognized by science. It didn't make much sense to me to have to update the category if a new combination was made in the 1990s or 2000s for a plant originally described in and for which everyone has known about since the 1800s, for example. The plant's description hasn't changed, just the circumscription of its name. I realize there could be good arguments against this, though. Rkitko (talk) 17:03, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Rkitko, I entirely agree that the category should not be used for something like "first acquired its current name". I have a slight difficulty with what you wrote above (and in the essay). If it was first validly described under any name, it was recognized by science. Let's first say that the names have to be Linnaean or post-Linnaean. Consider some examples.
  • Muscari racemosum Mill. is currently classified under Category:Plants described in 1768 which is when Philip Miller established this name. But the species was first described "under any name" as Hyacinthus muscari by Linnaeus in 1753. It couldn't become "Muscari muscari (L.) Mill." under the botanical code, so it doesn't look as though the name/description originated with Linnaeus. So is the article mis-categorized? If so, quite a bit of detective work will sometimes be needed to find the "first" description when there wasn't a transfer of epithet.
  • By contrast, Leopoldia comosa (L.) Parl. is currently classified under Category:Plants described in 1753 because this is when Linnaeus published Hyacinthus comosus.
  • The Fe'i banana article I created is deliberately at the "English" name, rather than at Musa × troglodytarum. Now Linnaeus published this name (minus the × symbol of course) in 1763. However, his description has been said to be "beyond understanding" by Häkkinen et al. (2012), so I would be reluctant to categorize the nothospecies as first described in 1763. Should it be so categorized?
I'm not trying to be difficult here; I agree with the broad idea. But once you depart from the rules of the ICN, it's not entirely clear what is meant. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:24, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
All fair points, and feel free to amend the essay where there are gaps or where my statements weren't exactly clear for all cases. When I picked up where someone else left off with the species by date categories, it seemed to me that I was categorizing some taxon regardless of its name or name changes. This seemed the more natural choice since it would be what our readers might care about - how long ago was this plant first recognized (yes, Linnaean or post-Linnaean only need apply) as distinct? Similar categories on the first publication of the current name would be meaningless to all but the botanists, but it would follow the ICN.
On your specific questions, not every page needs to have this category, I suppose, and I've often omitted it when it's been too difficult to figure out or sources conflict. Mostly, I tend to only use these categories when the article includes information on the taxon's publication history, something I've done a lot of with the Stylidium and Drosera stubs I created. Yes, Muscari racemosum appears to be mis-categorized and I would put it in the 1753 category. Fe'i banana can probably go without the category if the description is that odd. That's a special circumstance, however, that won't come up all that often. It's usually fairly straight forward. Rkitko (talk) 18:45, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree that Muscari racemosum was mis-categorized, and should have been in the 1753 category (I've now fixed it). But this does very much support Plantdrew's point (as I understand it): the YEAR in category "Plants described in YEAR" is precisely the year which would be the correct "authority year" under the zoological code. Whenever a species is transferred to another genus, it will not be the "authority year" under the botanical code. I don't myself think that it's worth having another parallel set of categories for "plant names by year of publication" (not "plants"). Peter coxhead (talk) 07:43, 28 June 2013 (UTC)


I will remove the dates that I added, and I will remove the dates from families and orders that were already present in many articles, when I finish adding authorities to families. --AfadsBad (talk) 14:59, 29 June 2013 (UTC)


At WT:FLORA the possibility of developing an MOS:PLANTS has been raised. This would be a dedicated guideline page that covers all plant-article related issues (outside naming conventions) based on the accumulated wisdom of 9 years of the WP:PLANTS project contained in our extensive talk page archives. MOS:PLANTS would have high visibilty to editors through being included in Template:Style. The advantage to having a separate page for the guideline is that it can be linked directly from AfD, category and talk page debates as well as edit summaries. Starting this page need not be arduous. Our current guidelines on our project page could simply be transferred to a new MOS:PLANTS page and worked on off-line until we are ready to go "live". Working off-line for a limited period (say a month) would encourage bolder editing in the start-up phase.--Melburnian (talk) 10:31, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Rice at Commons

I'd like to do some work on the category.

I know the parent is Oryza, yet has a child cat for "varieties". So, I'm confused. One one hand, varieties should be lost in the parent cat's maze of species. But, visitors to the rice category might like to see that child cat "varieties" populated with "wild rice", "black rice", and other "types" that may not strictly be a single species or even genus. Maybe the cats Calasparra rice and Arborio rice (now floating around in Category:Rice) could go into that "varieties" child cat.

The second issue is the hundreds of images at the bottom of the cat itself.

Please advise and I will do the work. Thanks, Anna Frodesiak (talk) 04:58, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Long cultivated food plants (bananas are another example) are a well-known problem when devising categories!
  • Although they were often given scientific names (including species and varieties) according to the IC(B)N, most of these names are now considered to be inappropriate, so shouldn't be used for classification/categorization.
  • Cultivated varieties of plants, i.e. cultivars, are now supposed to be named according to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The mechanism for ensuring that cultivar names are unique and refer to distinct clones or seed strains is via an International Registrar. If you want to know the correct name of a rose cultivar, for example, you refer to the American Rose Society which is the designated registrar for rose cultivars.
  • The classification hierarchy for cultivars is:
Genus or species name according to the IC(B)N
Cultivar Group
  • However, for many traditional food plants, there is either no designated registrar or the registrar hasn't yet been able to produce a definitive classification and set of names. For a crop like rice, the task is huge, and I haven't found any clear proposals.
All that I can say is that the categories should refer to "cultivars" not "varieties". Peter coxhead (talk) 10:00, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi Peter. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I see a kind editor has just done a fair bit of work populating I'm not sure they're all cultivars, but I think visitors will find the cats useful. I still want to make a cat for black rice and wild rice as there are many such images, but as they are not cultivars, must they stay ungrouped? Best, Anna Frodesiak (talk) 19:43, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

The very kind user Minerv has organized the cats. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 02:07, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Rosales clade

Am I right in thinking this recent edit is incorrect? The phylogeny diagram here suggests to me the text at Rosales was correct before, though this isn't a topic I have a great deal of knowledge about. PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 06:20, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

The cladogram in the referenced article clearly shows a clade consisting of Fagales and Cucurbitales as the sister to Rosales, so I'll change the article back. Fabales is sister to the clade combining these three. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:52, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
That may well have been a well-intentioned (if careless) edit because Fabaceae and Rosaceae have previously been considered more closely related. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 17:18, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I think it may have been just an error. If you look at the cladogram in the reference Fabales appears immediately above Fagales. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:39, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I notice that PNAS article refers to "bootstrap values", a jargon term similarly used (and unexplained) in the Phylogeny section of the Rosid article (it refers to "bootstrap support"); what is this referring to? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 01:59, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
In phylogenetics bootstrapping is a statistical technique used for estimating the uncertainty in various proposed trees created, and using this to pick one, or assign a likelihood of the tree being the correct one (the bootstrap value). Here's a link that explains it simply. (ML -- Maximum Likelihood.) It's also a computer intensive technique, the alternate trees are created by a computer and compared against the proposed tree; the technique is possible due to the availability of computing power. --AfadsBad (talk) 03:26, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Actually I don't think that the link explains it very clearly. The basic idea is this. You could just construct a tree from all the data you have, but then you'd have no idea how statistically reliable the tree is: would removing a small part of the data yield quite a different tree? So you repeatedly take a sample from the data (in a particular way), and then construct a tree. Hence you end up with lots of trees. If the same node/subtree comes up in 90% of these trees, it has 90% bootstrap support. (The support isn't for the tree as a whole, but for a part of it. Some parts may have strong support, some weak.) It's called "bootstrap" because you're using the same data not just to find a tree but to find out how good that tree is ("pulling yourself up by your bootstraps"). In principle a better method is to construct a tree based on one complete set of data and then test how well that tree fits a totally independent set of data. But then you need two complete and independent sets of data. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:31, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Not quite, but I don't think bootstrapping explanations are needed in this article. --AfadsBad (talk) 12:55, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Rather than linking to Bootstrapping (statistics) as the page was doing, I've changed the links to point to a very small explanation of the phylogenetics technique on the page Bootstrapping. I think it is to-the-point and appropriate for this sort of context, and that page leads to deeper material for anyone interested. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:27, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
AfadsBad, I wondered what you thought was "not quite"? Although this article doesn't need an explanation, there is a need for good explanations of phylogenetic techniques accessible to non-mathematicians (including many biologists!), and I have been thinking about how this might be done. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:43, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
The "90%" does not support the node; it is the support for the clade that terminates after that branching. It's not a subtle difference, so maybe "not quite" was an understatement, and I did see and correct that in the section on phylogenetics in the bootstrapping article. It would be a useful article for non-mathematicians, but Wikipedia mathematics articles tend to be written at a level way beyond the comprehension of an educated reader of a general encyclopedia. There is a woman who writes about statistics for cladistics, and her works would be a good starting point, maybe her name is Susan. I will be in the field for the next two months, so I'm not up to starting one, but if someone does, I will work on it. --AfadsBad (talk) 03:46, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Actually I wrote "node/subtree" in my very brief summary above (calling it a "clade" seems to me to anticipate interpretation), intending to summarize the same meaning as is now at Bootstrapping#Phylogenetics. (Although I would prefer say that the clade is "composed of" rather than "at" the "endpoints of that branch".) It's getting a bit technical here, but I don't like to use the term "interior branch" in the context of bootstrapping as your linked source does, because it is used to describe a different method – see the review here. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:34, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Strange title

Hi, I randomly chanced upon Buddleja 'Lonplum' = Sugar Plum, and thought that title is .. strange. There is no discussion about it on the talk page, or anywhere else: Special:WhatLinksHere/Buddleja 'Lonplum' = Sugar Plum. But I don't edit in flora topics often, so bringing it here for review. Thanks, John Vandenberg (chat) 00:14, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

That is an odd title. RHS just calls it "Buddleja davidii ‘Sugar Plum’ ".[13] First Light (talk) 00:40, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Is there a reason not to put this discussion on the article talk page. The editor who did most of the writing on this is creating or editing many articles on these cultivars or whatever they are and might be able to help? --AfadsBad (talk) 00:58, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
I put a note on their talk page pointing here. Since this page is more watched, and there may be more articles like this, then this isn't such a bad place to discuss it. First Light (talk) 01:00, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
.. and I've now added a note on the article talk page. The problem is best discussed here, as a quick peek at the authors contributions indicates there are quite a few articles with this naming convention, which I only call "strange" as I've not seen it before and I don't mean to diminish their work. Other than that, I'll just watch this wonderful discussion that is way above my head and a long way away from my interests. John Vandenberg (chat) 09:03, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
If Sugar Plum is a trade name rather than a cultivar name it should not be represented as 'Sugar Plum' per the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants.--Melburnian (talk) 02:27, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
I suspect 'Lonplum' is the registered cultivar name (the first 3 letters presumably taken from Longstock Park Nursery where it was raised), and 'Sugar Plum' is the English trade name. However this does not necessarily mean it should not be represented as 'Sugar Plum' on Wikipedia, as registered cultivar names are often not in general use, and indeed are often just a seemingly random assortment of letters and numbers by which a plant under plant breeders' rights can be recognised. However it's possible that such cultivars are not sufficiently notable for inclusion in Wikipedia anyway. PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 08:02, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
We have discussed before here how to deal with trade designations. There's no reason for us not to follow the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP), just as we follow the ICN for wild taxa. This requires that only the single unique cultivar name is put into single quotes – which is fine. It also requires that any trade designations/selling names are typographically distinguished. This is not easy in Wikipedia – see Template:tdes whose documentation briefly summarizes previous discussions. For article titles, I strongly support using only the cultivar name – it alone is unique and so meets the same criteria as the scientific name for a taxon. Alternatively one of the trade designations can be chosen, if that one is the most commonly used in the English-speaking world. However, often different trade designations are used in the US, in the UK, in Australia, etc. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:12, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
To expand on this a bit, the unique cultivar name is decided by the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA). For Buddleja this is the American Public Gardens Association (you can search for the ICRA for a genus here). So far I can't find an online list of Buddleja cultivars. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:22, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
The ICNCP uses capitals for selling names. I disagree with the suggestion that only the registered cultivar name is used in article titles, since only the selling name is likely to be known to the public, and thus any search on Wikipedia using same is likely to be fruitless?
From Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora):
In addition to a unique cultivar name (regulated by the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants), many cultivated plants have "selling names" or "marketing names"; the ICNCP calls these "trade designations". Trade designations are not regulated by the ICNCP; they are often different in different countries and can change over time. The ICNCP states that "trade designations must always be distinguished typographically from cultivar, Group and grex epithets." They should never be set in single quotes. Some are also registered trade marks (which cultivar names never are). There is currently no consensus as to how to represent trade designations in Wikipedia. The ICNCP uses capitals, and consequently they are used in the Buddleja articles. Ptelea (talk) 08:32, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Firsly, let me say that the articles on Buddleja species and cultivars are, in my view, excellent; any comments here aren't directed at the articles.
  • Using only the cultivar name in the article title has no effect on searching; there would always be redirects at every known selling name. (This is the same argument as for scientific names and English names.)
  • I agree that, as there is no consensus at present, the use of small caps via the tdes template is fine. Should we ever agree on a single solution, then the template can be fixed so that even if it specifies small caps, this is over-ridden. I note that the Buddleja articles correctly use the template.
  • Some of the names at Buddleja#List of Buddleja hybrids and cultivars can't be correct under the ICNCP. "Series" names like Flutterby Petite cannot be cultivar names as (a) they are not unique (b) they are trademarked which cultivar names can't be, so they should not be set in single quotes. Similarly InSpired™ Pink can't be a cultivar name if the first word is trademarked.
  • If you really want to give both a cultivar name and a trade designation, I would suggest the RHS style, e.g. Buddleja Sugar Plum ('Lonplum'), rather than using an equals sign. However, I can only say that in my view this doesn't fit WP:AT's criterion "The title is no longer than necessary to identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects." The article title should be either Buddleja 'Lonplum' or Buddleja Sugar Plum (no TM here as per MOS:TRADEMARK).
Peter coxhead (talk) 09:04, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Points noted, especially that relating to the American habit of giving an apparent group cultivar name; corrections will be made. The use of the equals symbol between cultivar and selling name was copied from the UK Royal Botanic Gardens accessions lists. Ptelea (talk) 10:10, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
I totally agree with Peter Coxhead on this. 512bits (talk) 11:20, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
I would use Buddleja davidii Sugar Plum as the article title [14]--Melburnian (talk) 12:10, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Change to WP:FLORA

On looking at the original version of WP:FLORA#Selling names (as quoted above by Ptelea), it was apparent that it wasn't properly focussed on article titles, as it should have been. In line with other recent changes at WP:FLORA, I've edited it to relate more clearly to titles, and moved the more general text to the project page at Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants#Trade designations so that it doesn't get lost before sorting all this out to create MOS:FLORA. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:15, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Infobox templates: park versus garden

A discussion about whether to use Infobox park or Infobox garden might be of interest to some. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:43, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

It might be better to discuss here: Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion/Log/2013_July_14#Template:Infobox_garden Plantdrew (talk) 17:23, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, I probably should have guessed that there was a proposed deletion discussion under way. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 18:02, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

DOI error in Botany article

I can't figure out what is wrong with the DOI in this ref. When you click on the DOI link in the Plant Cell journal article, it works, but in our wiki botany article it doesn't work. Can someone help? Here it is ... "Sussex, I. (2008). "The Scientific Roots of Modern Plant Biotechnology" (PDF). The Plant Cell 20. doi:​​​10.​1105/​tpc.​108.​058735Check |doi= value (help)". thanks 512bits (talk) 23:03, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Answered at talk:botany.512bits (talk) 23:19, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
I still can't get it to work. See Talk:Botany#DOI_error. Can anyone help? 512bits (talk) 02:07, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

"Cole Crops"

What's everyone's opinion on cole crops?

Upon looking it up I find:

  • This fact sheet states that cole crops are any of various Brassicaceae.
  • That fact sheet states that "all cole crops are cultivated varieties of the species Brassica oleracea."
  • This fact sheet says "cole crops, also known as crucifers (Brassica spp.)". Our article entitled crucifer (a religious term) has this dab: "For the vegetable family, see Cruciferae", by which we mean Brassicaceae.
  • This fact sheet actually defines it in terms of entomology, stating "The term "cole crops" refers to plants in the crucifer family within the Genus Brassica (more specifically, varieties of the species Brassica oleracea) that have similar insect pest complexes." I'm not sure if that's what they really meant to say, but that's what it says.

Can I ask the question... is the turnip a cole crop? And the more adventurous question... is the radish a cole crop? Wasabi, even?

All I want is to direct the terms to one appropriate page. Where should they go?

-Tortie tude (talk) 06:17, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

This is a classic case of the problems of English terms with vague meanings. "Cole" is the old English word for "cabbage", c.f. German Kohl. So, etymologically speaking, "cole crops" should mean "cabbage crops". However, the links given suggest that the term is being used more widely. I think that "all cole crops are cultivated varieties of the species Brassica oleracea" is the best definition to choose. Yes, this means that some root crops will be included, which wouldn't normally be thought of as "coles", but (a) there isn't an obvious group corresponding to "cabbage-like cultivars of B. oleracea" (b) this definition is reasonably consistent with all the sources. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:40, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Did you mean ""all cole crops are cultivated varieties of the genus Brassica", Peter? There aren't really any root crops from B. oleracea (kohlrabi maybe?), and I'd agree that root crops aren't typical "coles"/"cruciferous vegetables". I'd absolutely consider rapini (a B. rapa cultivar) to be a typical cole crop, and also turnip greens. I don't think there's any good distinction between "cole" and "cruciferous vegetable". It's hard to tell how much the internet has been influenced by Wikipedia's definition, but there are a lot of sites including arugula (Eruca sativa) and wasabi as cruciferous vegetables. I'd redirect cole crop(s) to cruciferous vegetables. Plantdrew (talk) 21:44, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, "root" is clearly wrong; I guess "non-leaf" is what I had in mind.
I was trying to pick one of the definitions in the sources given. Two say B. oleracea, two just Brassica. To me "cruciferous vegetables" is too wide for the sources I've seen. The truth seems to be that this is a term only used in limited commercial horticultural or agricultural circles, with no precise agreed meaning. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:03, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Oldish paper dictionaries might be a good guide to usage. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary 2nd edition, 1987 has Cole as all Brassica crops, particularly kale and rapeseed, so that puts B. napus firmly in the picture, but its seeds don't fit with the Cruciferous vegetables definition. Hmm. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:35, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Photo id in Commons?

Can anyone identify this plant with certainty? I doubt that it is Plumeria rubra. Thanks. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:46, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Cultivars of Plumeria having white flowers with yellow centres are quite common in plantings in Malaysia and Singapore, in my experience – I have photos which look to me to be the same as this image (in the last few years, I've regularly visited this Plumeria collection, sadly not well labelled). So I guess that this is a cultivar, and hence not easy to name precisely. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:06, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Peter. Looking at this some more after fixing a broken link, it seems that Plumeria may be quite messed up in this wiki, and this photo, I think, would be P. obtusa. The cultivars seem to be just about impossible to sort out, but Mobot has images of three species here. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 16:45, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
The leaves in the photo don't look to me quite right for P. obtusa, which is supposed to have narrower leaves. Look at the image of P. obtusa: more-or-less parallel-sided leaves. I still suspect it's a cultivar. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:04, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
See also the photo here. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:22, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Oh dear, this will require serious detective work. The Florida factsheet states that "Plumeria rubra f. acutifolia has white flowers with yellow centers (Fig. 1). This form is still routinely described in Florida as P. alba L.", but to WCSPF P. alba is something different. It seems to be true that Plumeria rubra f. acutifolia has white flowers with yellow centres, because Poiret here states that it is similar to P. obtusa. However, his illustration of P. obtusa here has very acute leaves, quite unlike the original image above. Himatanthus obovatus might be a possibility. (I'll have to take a break from this to do other things.) Sminthopsis84 (talk) 22:35, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Melica uniflora

Melica uniflora needs a copyedit/factcheck. Lavateraguy (talk) 09:56, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Sigh... This is an article created by Mishae, of which there are a very large number – see here. This user means well, but all of the plant articles need checking (as doubtless do the others). Peter coxhead (talk) 20:20, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
And what may I ask is the issue? First of all, I removed Poaceae category in all of my Melica articles, if it does any good. Second, its the plant and articles on various generals that I need help with, others are short stubs either way and carry only one sentence. Feel free to copyedit though, I am sorry for any misspellings or copyvios (if any exist).--Mishae (talk) 21:16, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Mishae, my sigh is because of the speed at which you create new articles. They do usually need copy editing, and you are very hard to keep up with. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:37, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
In the case of Melica uniflora the distribution is misleading in that it describes the margins of the distribution, and not the core. The phytosociology has two problems - firstly it is given at too specialist a level (I think it boils down to saying that the distribution corresponds to that of temperate broad-level deciduous woodlands) and is incorrectly expressed ("The species [Melica uniflora] is identical to Fagatalia [broad-leaved deciduous woodlands?]"). Lavateraguy (talk) 12:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
Let me say that I try my best. Yes, I create a lot of articles, and yes, some of them are not on par with the standards. As far as the expression goes, well on RBG Kew it says that the some Melica species are found in South America, with no specification specified...--Mishae (talk) 22:39, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
Make sure you look at corrections, like this and your prose will improve. Mine has as I have gone on here. cheers, Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 23:04, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

How to deal with artificial hybrids?

While natural hybrids are generally given a taxobox and cultivars have their own template ({{Infobox Cultivar}}), we don't currently have an infobox for named artificial hybrids (i.e. ones with a binomial hybrid name). Glancing over Category:Hybrid plants, it appears most articles on man-made hybrids use {{Infobox Cultivar}} (e.g. Buddleja × pikei, Camellia × williamsii, and Forsythia × intermedia). While this makes sense — many of the fields apply equally to cultivars and (non-cultivar) artificial hybrids — it is nonetheless problematic, as it is obviously incorrect to call these plants cultivars. So what's the solution? I would favour either a separate template similar to {{Infobox Cultivar}} (with an extra "binomial authority" field, etc.) or to expand the scope of {{Infobox Cultivar}} to accommodate artificial hybrids (but then what to call this template?). I actually took a stab at creating a separate template a few years ago ({{Infobox manmade hybrid}} - basically a clone of the cultivar infobox with some minor modifications), but this was eventually deleted as I never got around to using it. Hum. mgiganteus1 (talk) 22:17, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

This is something I've thought about, too. The ICNCP seems clear that cultivar groups and cultivar names are applied after a name based on the ICN, whether of a genus, 'plain' species, or nothospecies. So it seems to me that whether the hybrid is natural or artificial isn't the issue: the issue is the relevant code which applies. Standard taxoboxes are suitable for names entirely based on the ICN, regardless of the origin of the hybrid, e.g. Musa × paradisiaca. However the {{Infobox cultivar}} needs to be expanded, to allow the full taxobox hierarchy down to the last ICN name, followed by ICNCP names, i.e. cultivar Group name, cultivar name, trade name(s).
There are cultivars for which there don't seem to be any validly published/registered ICNCP names (e.g. many vegetables, bananas) so we may need to be more flexible than the ICNCP (as we are in relation to the ICN, by allowing unranked clades). For example, Cavendish banana subgroup needs an infobox showing the standard hierarchy down to Musa acuminata and then some more:
Genus: Musa
Species: M. acuminata
(cultivar group): AAA genome group
(cultivar subgroup): Cavendish subgroup
The parentheses are to show that these are not formal ICNCP "ranks" but informal ones, like unranked clades.
So I don't think we need a new taxobox, just an expansion of an existing one. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:53, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't think the taxobox (in its current state at least) is a good fit for ICN artificial hybrids. Unlike the cultivar infobox, it doesn't have fields for hybrid parentage or origin (breeder, year) - pretty important pieces of information with respect to man-made crosses. mgiganteus1 (talk) 12:55, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Just a couple of comments agreeing with Peter about hybridity not really being an issue (and I don't have an opinion about how best to handle this with boxes). Separating artificial from natural hybrids can be "artificial" because under the ICN the same name can apply to both. An example is Crataegus ×mordenensis Boom, which was named on the basis of an artificial hybrid, but applies to naturally produced hybrids that have subsequently been discovered. Hybridization can happen because one of the parent species was introduced to a new area by humans, became naturalized, and subsequently hybridized with a local species; that might be considered either "natural" or "artificial"? Hybrids are often discovered in a garden collection, rather than deliberately produced by cross-pollination, so it may be unknown whether the hybrid came from an original collecting site or arose in the garden.
The ICN considers it a matter of choice whether a named species is noted as a hybrid or not. Hordelymus can be listed with a multiplication sign or without (Article H.3 Note 1). As time goes on, the hybrid origin of more and more taxa is being revealed, and some of that hybridity has little noticeable external effect on the morphology of the plant. It would be quite confusing to have all of that information crammed into wikipedia, quite apart from the sheer volume of work that would be required to generate and maintain it. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:50, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
You make good points and I agree that having two different infoboxes — for "natural" and "artificial" hybrids — would be to create a false dichotomy where the situation is far more nuanced. But the problem remains that the taxobox at present can't handle some of the basic information like breeder and hybrid parentage (the latter also relevant to natural hybrids), and as a consequence {{Infobox Cultivar}} is being used where it shouldn't be (see examples above). Should we then add these fields to the taxobox? mgiganteus1 (talk) 14:12, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree that for a hybrid species it would be possible to give the parent species in the taxobox. Whether this is a good idea or not, I'm not sure: I'd like to know what others think. The issue is not whether this is important information – it is, but whether the taxobox should be expanded yet more. I'm inclined at present to say that it should.
Breeder I definitely wouldn't want for the hybrid name. The ICN name for a hybrid species applies to all crosses of those species, as Sminthopsis84 notes, so the person who made the first one, even if the only known one, surely doesn't belong in the taxobox. For grexes and cultivars, definitely it is relevant to the infobox.
I hope that some more WP:PLANTS members will comment! Peter coxhead (talk) 15:25, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I think I'd agree with adding the fields (don't usually pay enough attention to taxoboxen to have a solid opinion). Another aside: only one parent of a hybrid might be known, so it shouldn't be a requirement to list both. Molecular genetic data are revealing multi-way hybrids, which I hope won't get carried too far into nomenclature and wikipedia, but a clutter of that sort of thing could be a problem to deal with if it arises. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 16:00, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Naming common name set indices when base title is occupied

There are several set indices about a common name that, for various reasons, aren't at the common itself. These have been named in several different ways, and I wanted to seek consensus about a consistent way to names these. The most common choice uses "(disambiguation)" (as in Ragwort (disambiguation). Examples of other naming styles include Cowslip (vernacular name), Reed (plant), List of plant species known as snakeroot, and List of plants named buckthorn. Using "(disambiguation)" to disambiguate the title seems inappropriate for set indices which don't necessarily conform to WP:MOSDAB. "(vernacular name)" seems to me to be the best choice of disambiguating term of the existing examples. Plantdrew (talk) 02:31, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree that these should not be at Foo (disambiguation). We can't be rigid about the appropriate disambiguation term, it depends on the type of articles that you are disambiguating and whether one of a number of plant species is the primary topic, in which case Foo (plant) doesn't work. Foo (vernacular name) is problematic as it does not confine the ambiguous topic to plants and, additionally, other articles may be at a vernacular name title eg. Bollywood vs Bollywood (tree).--Melburnian (talk) 04:56, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I too agree that Foo (disambiguation) is a bad title, and agree that it's not possible to be too rigid. I don't like Foo (vernacular name) either, as it doesn't give the reader any clue as to what "foo" means. I would be inclined to start with Foo (plant) and when this isn't available or suitable for some reason, become more specific, e.g. Foo (tree). Peter coxhead (talk) 15:48, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't very clear; in most of the cases where Foo (disambiguation) is used, the article titled Foo (or redirected from Foo) is about a plant, so Foo (plant) or (tree) wouldn't usually work. In some cases it would be appropriate to free up the base title; List of plant species known as snakeroot would probably be best at Snakeroot, rather than redirecting snakeroot to Ageratina. Peter, from our impasse at Talk:Guava, I assume you'd want to go the route of freeing up the base title most of the time (and I think we do usually go this route). However, I'm not sure that we'd be doing readers a favor by having Milk thistle take them to Milk thistle (disambiguation) rather than directly to Silybum marianum. S. marianum is a popular herbal remedy widely marketed as "milk thistle"; the other "milk thistles" aren't in commerce and are more widely known by other common names. Maybe titling them as lists is the way to go? How about "List of plants called Foo" or "List of plants known as Foo" ("named Foo" implies a little too much formality in common names to me)?
I'd like to call attention to Cowslip (vernacular name)/Cowslip, Yew/Yew (disambiguation) and Sycamore/Sycamore (disambiguation) where a set index on a common name is split from a DAB (with the DAB at the base title Cowslip, and the set index at the base title for Yew and Sycamore). There seem to be a number of DABs out there which link to 6-10+ plants and 1-2 non-plant topics. Splitting into a DAB and plant common name SIA might be useful. The upside is that the SIA wouldn't have to conform to WP:MOSDAB regarding partial title matches (which was an issue at Talk:Oak (disambiguation)). The downside is that the SIA would loss the maintenance functions granted to DABs (Sycamore has way too many incoming links). I wonder if it would be possible to get DAB maintenance for a carefully chosen set of SIAs? Plantdrew (talk) 02:51, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I think that set article index titles could be selected based on (nominally) 3 options:

  1. Foo where Foo is the sole or primary topic
  2. Foo (plant) or Foo (tree) or similar where there is no plant or tree that is the primary topic
  3. List of plants known as Foo where one of many plants known as Foo is the primary topic

I don't think that there is any value in a set article index such as Cowslip (vernacular name) where it shows exactly the same information as Cowslip (and is not linked anywhere). The question about DAB maintenance on SIAs is a very good one, but I don't know the answer. --Melburnian (talk) 05:34, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree with Melburnian; where "Foo" or "Foo (plant/tree/etc)" doesn't work, I would prefer "List of plants known as Foo". "Vernacular name" seems to me to fail WP:COMMONNAME: who actually uses this term? (And in any case here we're only interested in names used in English.)
Perhaps Wikipedia:Village pump (technical) would be a good place to ask initially about making SIAs behave in the same way as DABs when wikilinked?

Plant infobox

I took a stab at making an infobox for plants: Template:Plantbox. It's still in the early stages and needs a lot of work but at least it's a start. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I don't have any training in botany so I'm sure I've made some silly mistakes. emok (talk) 18:56, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Sorry to be negative when you've obviously worked quite a bit on this, but I really don't see the need for this infobox. If it repeats information in the article, it's redundant. If it doesn't repeat information, it's against the principle that Wikipedia articles should be written in prose. We've tried to keep taxoboxes to a minimum length, in spite of some pressure to keep adding more information to them. So why would we need another infobox? (If it is used, I certainly think it should normally be collapsed.) Peter coxhead (talk) 22:01, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
It would mainly be useful for identifying species. It's easier to find and compare features if they are in tabular form, and it might encourage people to fill in missing information. I agree it's a good idea to be normally collapsed (once I figure out how to do that). It did take some work but if people feel it's the wrong direction, I'll drop it. emok (talk) 22:36, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I assume this was inspired by Template:Mycomorphbox? The primary value of this infobox seems to me to be providing a glossary of technical terms; readers can see definitions/illustrations of terms that might appear in a section describing the plant. The parameters for the infobox (or any reasonable expansion of those parameters) usually won't cover the characters needed to distinguish species in the same genus. The defined parameters might sometimes be useful for distinguishing genera in the same family. The parameters might also distinguish some families from other families, but many families will have multiple values for the defined parameters. The infobox might be useful for identifying some genera, but would not be very useful for species or families (except as a inline glossary).
Adding data on character states through collaborative editing is awesome. I dream of the existence a multi-entry key that will allow a layperson to identify any plant they come across with minimal technical language (I don't think leaf-image recognition apps will ever be accurate enough, or that DNA barcoding will be cheap enough to allow the casual naturalist to identify all the plants they see). However, I'm not very interested in adding data on basic character states to Wikipedia through an infobox. Wikidata might be a better venue for this information (although I'm sure establishing even a minimal morphological character data scheme for Wikidata would be a massive undertaking). Plantdrew (talk) 04:00, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes it was partially inspired by Template:Mycomorphbox but it was also inspired by my general frustration with trying to use Wikipedia for identification. Most of the plant-related articles have very little information relevant to identifying the species and it is hidden within the text of the article. (Most of the information in the taxobox is of little use to an amateur.) In my opinion Wikipedia should be useful to a layperson, and a layperson is unlikely to know the name of a particular plant without some assistance. Therefore identifying features should be included in an organized, consistent section of the article, as they typically are in most books or other websites.
If there is consensus that this information should be presented in the article (so far there definately isn't...), then I'd be happy to help modify the content or layout. To answer a few points: I don't think pictures are a requirement, I don't think every parameter has to have a value (basic info is better than nothing), and I see the current list of values as suggestions (if the species has a standard feature then maybe an image is presented, but if it is non-standard then maybe there is a bit of text).
As I understand it, Wikidata could eventually become a backend for this infobox that could help with translating and sourcing. Once it has developed, Wikidata could be used to run queries to narrow a list of potential species.
Regarding the amount of effort required: I think that starting information could be referenced from, for example, the USDA. Even this basic information would be helpful for identification. From there, I feel a well-designed infobox would encourage further development. emok (talk) 15:37, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm initially skeptical of something like this. If I understand the motivation correctly, I would respond by suggesting that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and not an identification guide so the kind of information you're looking for may not be appropriate (or its formatting in another infobox to aid in this function may not be appropriate). The best guides have dichotomous keys which would never be right for Wikipedia; someone years ago started working on one at wikibooks but I don't think it's been worked on very much. Sometimes there's really only one way to display information effectively, such as that which gets included in the {{Nutritional value}} infobox (usually further down a large page on commercially important crop plants or their product articles) but perhaps the info discussed here is better often discussed in text to aid understanding. Everyone can grasp concentrations of different constituents, but in every article I write about plants, I try to make the language accessible so it's not heavily-laden with jargon.
You also suggest that the presence of these infoboxes may encourage users to add data. I worry that this may result in unsourced contributions -- or worse, original research as some report the nearest plant's measurement for the infobox. And my general opinion is that articles are usually too cluttered as it is so another infobox below the taxobox will not help matters, especially when we're supposed to be balancing summary infoboxes, prose, and images for a well-rounded encyclopedic entry. Anyway, those are my thoughts on this infobox. There's no doubt you've certainly put time and effort into the project, so if I've not thought any of my comments through thoroughly or if you've already thought of ways around some of my concerns, please let me know. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 17:55, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Articles should mention identifying features which are helpful to an amateur. This information is best presented as an infobox because it is less clunky than a bulleted list, presents a standard format between articles, and is machine readable. emok (talk) 21:30, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
But the bulleted list form is wrong, and should be replaced by continuous prose, as is the proper style for an encyclopaedia – this is not an identification guide. Also, as others have noted, it's not possible or sensible to describe different plants – herbs, trees, cacti, epiphytes, saprophytes, parasites, geophytes, etc. – using the same set of characters. Consider how differently specialized flower types like euphorbias and composites are described. The characters you use to identify a species of composite don't even exist in many other families. Even when you're describing species in the same genus, it's usually not possible to find sources with precisely the same set of information on each (as I know from experience, e.g. with Roscoea). Botanists tend to concentrate on the salient characters that distinguish species, genera, etc., not those features they all have in common. I'm sorry, but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it's not a good idea here. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:13, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
If I understand well what you want to try, I suggest you to check polyclave software, with them you can construct multi-access identification keys, like Lucid or the older DELTA. --RoRo (talk) 01:42, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Since you all don't like the infobox idea, all I can say is I hope you find a good alternative. Unless there is a way to find an unnamed plant, this section of Wikipedia is of little value to folks that don't already know the difference between a epiphyte and a saprophyte. emok (talk) 18:41, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
But that's true of any encyclopaedia, including the two gardening encyclopaedias I have. Identification and description are quite different. As noted above, keys (of various kinds) are the way to do identification. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:03, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
A gardening book assumes the reader obtained the name when the plant or seed was purchased. Why should Wikipedia make the same assumption? emok (talk) 23:50, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Now I'm confused. The purpose of the infobox would be to display information that would help in identification of the species (a function I think is covered just fine in prose, though sometimes when making comparisons between species tables can be useful - e.g. Nepenthes glabra#Nepenthes xiphioides), but would only ever be displayed on individual species articles so users would have to know what they're trying to identify in order to access that info. As I suggested above, there were other attempts on sister projects to start dichotomous keys to all life, certainly an ambitious project, but Wikipedia is not a guide. (I know none of the examples at that link align perfectly with this situation, but I believe it fits in the spirit of the policy.) Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 00:37, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
That Nepenthes example demonstrates how important distinguishing morphological characteristics can be very particular to a group of plants. A "one size fits all" plant infobox doesn't seems to me to be the way to go. I'm also concerned by a trend on Wikipedia raised here.--Melburnian (talk) 01:11, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
My professional database & G.I.S. IT hat (of 20 years experience), that i do like to think i keep well in context in Wiki encyclopaedia editing, has been well humbled (although not 100% converted, more like 70–80%) by the User R. M’s serious concerns. There’s more to a not black and white view of this, though, as i would summarise IMHO the 20-30% 'balance' of reality. Also i have freebase experience. Interesting thoughtful concerns, thanks for sharing the link.--macropneuma 02:19, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I have no affiliation with Google or Apple, and I don't particularly care for either one. The only reason I created the infobox is because I went hiking a couple of weeks ago, took a photo of a yellow flower with five petals, and was frustrated I couldn't use wikipedia to help me figure out what it is. Category:Flowers is no help. emok (talk) 03:04, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
In my professional and personal field botanist/ecologist role (also of 25+ years experience, 'spatial ecology', botanical survey, …), i can give good general directions for your process of plant identification; and as also some more botanists are here. That—plant identification—is not an appropriate use for Wikipedia—a bad mismatch of tool for the job, in the context of many high quality, purpose built, plant identification tools available freely, if you know what to look for or get good directions. Sorry i’m being blunt here so you do not waste your own precious time.
In which biogeographical region of this planet did you find the plant? Have you uploaded photo(s) of it to the appropriate unidentified plant section of commons, where perhaps field botanists with the tools already in use can quickly ID it for you? I don’t want Wikipedia to pretend to do something for which it is not and cannot ever be first rate. --macropneuma 03:30, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I’d much rather you find out the accurate determination of your plant species identity from the world’s plant taxonomy expert(s) on it, directly or via their work, and then edit and write a beaut’ Wikipedia article on the species, with your, i hope, fine photo. --macropneuma 03:41, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia will also never best a dedicated botany textbook or gardening encyclopedia. The point is, microformats or keys or infoboxes or tags whatever you want to call them, would be useful to the majority of readers. Such organization is possible because it's been done over and over again by countless field guides and websites. This organization is useful because as the paper about Lucid shows, it's essentially an index for someone that doesn't know the name. This is a core functionality and trumps a preference for prose or an abstract fear that Google is stealing your work.emok (talk) 13:15, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Extended assistance and seeking philosophical clear thinking
With due respect, as an extensively practising identifier of some few thousand plant species, i don’t agree with that aspiration in WP. I’ll gladly forgive naiveté on this subject of my long experience, if you’ll admit it.
Do you want to ID your found plant as the priority, or not? I’m peeved that you haven’t taken my sincere offer of ID assistance, while still arguing for WP aspirations. I’m wondering why. My and your, our, egos–illusions have no place here in WP or in the forests—in nature.
Useful to a majority of readers … would be Wikipedia plant genus articles having direct links to their best species identification key(s). Fundamentally keys need precise accuracy. If not precisely accurate they have worse effects than persons remaining unknowing and cautious of those particular plants, as they mislead to wrong conclusions—false knowledge. About knowledge, three kinds: accurate true knowledge, unknowns (incl. the oft mentioned unknown unknowns) and lies, false knowledge, not really knowledge, being misled, destructive perceptions, misinformation and disinformation … (in statistical (and measurements) analyses, 5 classic results: unknowns, false positives, true positives, false negatives and true negatives). After air, water and human family, plants give us our most basic human requirements. I suppose you eat wheat. I’ll say i do, as most of us do; but if you don’t then that’ll surprise and interest me. With wild plants (not on a wheat farm where it’s obvious), can we identify our own very basic food of actual "common wheat (Triticum aestivum)" as contrasted from many more Triticum species, from triticale, rye, spelt, barley, and many other species of plant tribe Triticeae? People eat wheat 3 times a day everyday, and 'know everything' about it in their impressions but in fact most of us know very little about it in reality. Most wouldn’t know what Triticum aestivum is if asked, nor any of the accurate botanical description or key distinguishing features of the species.
Wikipedia is not a manual, especially for things like plant species that can kill – with example deadly fruits 2 3 4 5 6 7, seeds ('macadamia') 2 3 4 5, flowers, leaves and other parts 2 3, sap, smoke if wood gets burnt, sawdust, wrong root tubers consumption 2, etc., etc., x1000s.
By definition WP cannot publish original accurate and precise keys because that fundamentally requires copying existing keys and to alter their content in any meaningful way expert original scientific research. Competent botanists who author official, published, plant keys, very closely measure, observe and record every species’ herbarium type specimens and scores of additional specimens for each species; typically, for instance with 30 species, totalling many hundreds to some thousands of specimens very closely researched.
There’s no safe nor reliable way to incompetently identify unknown wild plants, that’s a necessary contradiction since our ancient ancestors began life and survived. The only ways to learn plants species are from competent people, in other words precisely–accurate sources. For a random example, here in Australia there are around 800 natural species of Eucalypts, a few of them we can learn from Palawa people to drink their sap which is maple–syrup like or if following the history of fermentation then substantially alcoholic, some other species’ saps would badly burn the mouth with caustic, acidic, chemical poison or severe astringency; but most non–Aboriginal Australian people don’t know any of the former special Eucalypt species; many would only very loosely vaguely know vernacular groups of many species that they think are single species: Blue Gums, River Red Gums, Ghost Gums, Forest Red Gums, Mallee, Mountain Ash, Peppermints, Boxs, Ironbarks, and a few more. Therefore most cannot make any meaning of Cider gum or its great history. Australia here, not including New Guinea nor New Zealand, has recorded more than 25,000 different species of native plants and something like 5,000 more species introduced that have naturalised and have invaded natural vegetation or disturbed landscapes—30,000+! As an experienced field botanist i do not know about 80% of them, but if i have competent botanists’ precisely–accurate identification keys with my skills and experience i can identify perhaps 80% of them. If people who are Aborigines continuing living in country teach me then i cannot help but to remember almost everything their very reliably sourced knowledge gives me.
Wikipedia has a policy that cannot be thrown around by editors in arguments: "competence is required". WP editors cannot enforce it on each other, because notionally we’re all equalised amateurs, which is good. In WP i love being equal with everyone, including you –truly! Except, when editors are dishonest, as many were in my experience, and claimed competence that they do not have, and obviously to everyone do not have. In my experiences of their effects, doing thousands of piecemeal instances of damage to article qualities, to information, because simply they don’t know what they’re talking about, and refuse point blank in our faces to admit it, out of foolish pride. In my experience WP has attracted a minority proportion of editors who really tend to this pretending; it goes with this territory. More serious policies are needed to mitigate that. I’ve observed so many edits everyday in subjects that certain of their editors are incompetent in. I’ve read so many real world expert information scholars who have written critiques of WP for that.
Incompetently edited plant keys would rapidly become endemic and condemn the credibility of WP use for competent botanists and for risks of identification using WP for everyone who uses the many many plant species that have serious dangers.
The most accurate way to learn natural plants happens socially out in the forest, in nature, in participation with more experienced botanists doing field work, with local born and bred community (eg. long time farmers competent on their local plants) and/or with indigenous community where still continuing living in country—not first from books or written keys, they are secondary, personal learning is primary. I can now ±reliably, accurately use plant keys to teach myself entirely new plant species now that i have many years of experience and already know a few thousand species, however such a new species knowledge in me does not unfold any more or remain in long term memory unless i learn with people and talk with people, much more about individuals of those trees or plants.
When some keys get made available copyright-free (free licences) online, then there’s no point duplicating them in Wikipedia. It works much better linking directly to them as originals curated by their own competent authors. Mostly all pointless exercises, unless you’re referring only to article popularity appearances, including nice looking presentations of keys copied from elsewhere only to boost an article to appear a higher quality than its actual quality. I’m well into the substance of plants work, identifying them, learning the forests, computer systems, databases and maps, and so on, incl. writing in many articles here, not in the business of making solely nice appearing presentation but insubstantial plant articles. I don’t take you to mean that that’s what you’re motivated into. I take you at your word that you want to ID a wild plant that you found, and then went on a WP volunteering exercise from that question. When i have created real substance in WP articles, only after that have i devoted serious effort to prettying them up. I hope you get what i like to think is my disciplined way of keeping organised and doing useful work for those people reading WP plant articles. There are many better exercises i can think of that you can do in WP, for a few out of many instances:
there are some entire botanical families that still do not have any article about them!;
the many deadly parts of certain plant species, briefly touched on above, should have mention of their dangers for the precautionary approach of providing any information at all to the world about them;
distinguishing features: that is the wording we commonly use for prose descriptive text about such features of individual species – i suspect some of your referring to keys means to these instead (in prose text); with the required disciplines of real accuracy by editors that actually know the subject they’re editing and the most reliable scholarly sources, we need many more of these distinguishing features sentences in articles—IMHO. --macropneuma 16:46, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I am advocating the inclusion of true and verifiable facts that will aid readers. This post started because I created a prototype tool for organizing these facts. I don't care as much about my particular photo, and anyways it is over-saturated so I haven't posted it--this was just an anecdotal story. I appreciate the offer of help. emok (talk) 18:52, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Let's see, if I understand well (again), what you want is enough information on each page so a person who reads it is sure that the plant he encountered is from that species, and you want it in a form that the person doesn't have to make any click to the terminology to understand the text. If that is the case, it looks like you don't see the astronomic amount of work it takes. But if you want to try, take a small taxon, don't do the infobox for all the species, that will never be finished. Choose a small and nice family, some family (or subfamily) easily identificable, with few and easily identificable species, put in the infobox only the terminology needed for identifying genera and species inside that family, and draw any extra drawing you may need to complete the infobox. You may see photographs of each character on each species are much more informative than that (or that those are the "really" informative), but probably you won't find those photographs in commons. When finished, you can do the try to put those infobox on each page, for example at the bottom of the page, and, if you want identification, a link to the family page, to a sector with something like the infobox but with columns for each species, so people can identify species like if it was a polyclave (it looks like is that what you are looking for). If you do that and at the end of the job you can see it works, ask for feedback again. --RoRo (talk) 01:01, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Oh, we have a key section on the spanish wikipedia (only a few taxons), maybe here keys are not allowed? --RoRo (talk) 01:05, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Well, it seems like Melbournian thinks the same, though he posted over my message. So it looks like it is allowed to do that. Contact me again in the spanish wikipedia if you want feedback once you did a few tries. --RoRo (talk) 02:51, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Not wishing to point fingers, but, given this comment about the Spanish Wikipedia, I can only say that when using translated parts of its articles I have found much closer 'paraphrasing' than we would consider acceptable here – direct translation to Spanish of English language sources seems not uncommon. See my comment at Talk:Asparagales#'Translation' from the Spanish version. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:01, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agee we don't care much about "paraphrasing" when translating (we do when copying from a spanish source). Is common to translate from english because biology is in english. Back to the key issue at the end of next section. --RoRo (talk) 16:21, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Keys in Wikipedia articles

Keys in Wikipedia articles are a tricky issue which interests me – there are articles I've worked on where I'd love to add a key (Roscoea for example). It's not clear whether any really useful keys can be included here:

  • A small key, to a few species within a genus say, could be copied from a reliable source as a quotation, but it would have to be small to abide by fair use.
  • A larger key, which is what would be useful in identification, could not be copied and cannot be paraphrased given the vital importance of the precise wording of a key (and even if it could be paraphrased, it would have to be a forbidden "close paraphrase" since the essential ordering would be the same).
  • Constructing a key is surely forbidden original research.

I'd be interested in what others think. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:01, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Better have a look here eg. [15], and that site’s only for old style keys, "teaching them [a few] new tricks", we seriously use much more and better again, eg. [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], [23], etc.. --macropneuma 08:45, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

I can't see how the incorporation of keys in Wikipedia could not breach either wp:or or wp:copyvio (even copying a small complete key as a quote would seem to me to be a copyvio and beyond fair use). Then there's wp:notmanual . . . --Melburnian (talk) 12:50, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
even copying a small complete key as a quote would seem to me to be a copyvio and beyond fair use – in general I agree with you, but there is an issue as to how much constitutes fair use in US law. There are three taxa in Cautleya, so there's a key of about 60 words. There are plenty of other places in Wikipedia where longer quotations are used, so I suspect that this might be ok, although I'm not going to do it! If the source were online, I would put a link under "External links", but it isn't at present.
But in general, I agree that we can't incorporate keys into Wikipedia articles, but where possible we should link to online keys. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:17, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia:Non-free content one of the criteria for use-of non-free content is for it to be "not used in a manner that is likely to replace the original market role of the original copyrighted media". If readers are able to key out their plant from a quoted key in a Wikipedia genus article, they can bypass using the original copyrighted source.--Melburnian (talk) 03:43, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree that copying a dichotomous key would be a violation. It is not a violation to tag articles with "this plant has yellow flowers" or "this flower has five petals" and then sort for a narrower list of plants with five petals and yellow flowers. The latter possibility is valuable to a wide swath of readers. emok (talk) 13:23, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
There are maybe 500,000 species of flowering plant. Five is the commonest number of petals (possibly as high as 70%); yellow is a common corolla colour. If you filtered out a list of plants with yellow pentamerous corollas from Wikipedia, you might get 5,000 plants, and there's no guarantee that your plant is among them; Wikipedia only covers about 10% of plants species, though coverage is higher for American plants. Lavateraguy (talk) 13:40, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Apart from the practical difficulties, WikiSpecies would be a better home for this idea. Lavateraguy (talk) 13:42, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Emok, I'd like you to understand that we aren't just being awkward here.
In addition to the sheer number of species, if the template is completed in a way that is meaningful to readers with no knowledge of plants, it won't be encyclopaedic. For example, do you really mean "petals" or just petal-like structures, such as tepals or staminodes or bracts? If the latter, then we won't write like this in Wikipedia. If the former, then already the key isn't useful to those with no real knowledge. Look at the image at File:Roscoea cautleoides flower labelled.jpg. It has 3 yellow petals and 3 yellow staminodes (or 2 yellow staminodes and a labellum in other sources). So where would it go in a key? Or look at the image at File:Epimedium flower - labelled.svg. I suspect most non-botanists would say that it has "four petals" but actually the prominent petal-like structures are the four inner sepals. Or how about File:Bidens aurea FlowerCloseup 2009November15 SierraMadrona.jpg? A non-botanist would probably say the flower has 5 petals, but actually each flower in the composite flower head (inflorescence) has either 1 petal ligule (the outer flowers) or 0 petals ligules (the inner flowers). So correctly filled in templates for these plants simply won't do what you want, and we're not going to fill them in 'wrongly' to correspond to how a non-botanist might describe them. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:59, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
To add to the confusion, the corollae of composite florets are usually composed of 5 (less commonly 0 or 4) flowers. I think that both the ligulate (ray) and tubular (disc) florets here have 5 fused petals, not 1 and 0. In hawkweeds, for example, the individual petals show up as separate teeth, but here the fusion has proceeded to a point where the individual petals are completely indistinguishable (to my eye at least). Lavateraguy (talk) 14:22, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Just noticed this. Having deliberately chosen images where the "petals" aren't petals, I can't believe I wrote "petal" instead of "ligule". Idiocy or a senior moment. :-) Peter coxhead (talk) 10:27, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I am not asking for wrong or misleading or unverifiable information to be included. Yes there are edge cases that require further discussion. But please don't claim that such an organization is not possible or unscientific when there are links to similar systems two inches above this text.emok (talk) 14:39, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Maybe there will be a day, after 100 years of work and a lot of funding for taxonomy, when people will be able to identify a species without having to know the difference between a petal and a petaloid structure, but taxonomists will have to work a lot and take a lot of open access photographs in order to do that. I don't think we will be alive to see that. Coming back to realistic keys, you can find an example of a key in es:Nymphaeaceae, but I'm not sure if it is translated or self made. I can ask the author if you have interest in that. Also, I'm not really sure about if a key has copyright for the editorial, since there is no way to paraphrase that information, then it could fall in the box of "information-only" sources like telephone guides and maps. --RoRo (talk) 16:21, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I would expect that a key is copyrightable. There is a lot of choice in how a key is composed - in the choice of traits, and in the order in which traits are used. Lavateraguy (talk) 16:49, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know how you got the impression that I'm in favor of classifying the entire tree of life for illiterate children. I'm only saying that if the articles were tagged with some of the features of the plant, it would be helpful to readers that don't know the name. In the example above, Lavateraguy was able to narrow the list of potential species by a factor of 100 using only two features. emok (talk) 17:00, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Make that a factor of 10, not 100. Lavateraguy (talk) 17:21, 8 August 2013 (UTC) And after making a measurement instead of pulling numbers out of the air, make that a factor of 5. Lavateraguy (talk) 17:38, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Re: I don't know how you got the impression that I'm in favor of classifying the entire tree of life for illiterate children. No one here has been saying that, just that this is a far more complex endeavor than you may think, and that it would lend itself to many editors unwittingly adding misinformation, a trend already quite difficult to keep up with.
Re: Yes there are edge cases that require further discussion. This is probably a lot more plants than you think, and 'edge' would probably not describe the breadth of such a grouping properly. Many don't realize how really complicated (the closer one looks) botany is! Hamamelis (talk) 17:48, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

If a flower has 5-petals, and this is a true and verifiable fact, then it should be included in Wikipedia. If this fact is also searchable by Wikidata, then the Wikipedia article will be more accessible and useful. Arguing for excluding editors is against Wikipedia's Five Pillars.emok (talk) 18:36, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Of course it should be; no-one said otherwise. And no-one said anything about excluding editors. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:59, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
These are some of the quotes I am responding to:
  1. "it would lend itself to many editors unwittingly adding misinformation"
  2. "Except, when editors are dishonest, as many were in my experience, and claimed competence that they do not have, and obviously to everyone do not have. In my experiences of their effects, doing thousands of piecemeal instances of damage to article qualities, to information, because simply they don’t know what they’re talking about, and refuse point blank in our faces to admit it, out of foolish pride. In my experience WP has attracted a minority proportion of editors who really tend to this pretending; it goes with this territory. More serious policies are needed to mitigate that. I’ve observed so many edits everyday in subjects that certain of their editors are incompetent in."
  3. "we're not going to fill them in 'wrongly' to correspond to how a non-botanist might describe them."
  4. "You also suggest that the presence of these infoboxes may encourage users to add data. I worry that this may result in unsourced contributions -- or worse, original research as some report the nearest plant's measurement for the infobox." emok (talk) 19:44, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
None of those quotes say that information should not be in an article. None of them say that editors should be excluded. All attempt to explain to you why we think that an infobox isn't the right way to go in Wikipedia. I really don't see what more I can say. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:35, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
If you can't admit that those quotes are hostile towards editors, and that they wrongly imply I want to add false/unverified information to Wikipedia, then I give up too. Similar attitudes appear in earlier discussions on this page. There are many well-respected implementations of the general idea I proposed (so it's possible) and someone else has given a perfect example of why it's useful. Instead of judging the idea on it's merits or suggestions for alternatives, we've talked about: whether it is "proper" for an encyclopedia, whether Google is stealing our work, whether readers and editors should be sent away to other sources, and if it's too much work. I don't see how any of these counter-arguments contradict Wikipedia's core values.emok (talk) 21:09, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
You suggest above that Wikidata could be the back end to the infobox. As an alternative, consider Wikidata as the front end. Developing a data scheme for plant morphology is a massive undertaking, and shouldn't be restricted to English language Wikipedia editors alone; there's no sense having en.Wikipedia develop one scheme, and es.Wikipedia develop another. Some editors on en.Wikipedia aren't interested in contributing to Wikidata, which is fine.Plantdrew (talk) 23:35, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Back to keys. I think the key at es:Nymphaeaceae#División de la familia can't possibly be acceptable as it is. It's not referenced. If a source for it as a key is added, then it will be a copyvio. If sources are added for the individual pieces of information, then the key appears to be OR or SYNTH at best. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:11, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Invoking the merger doctrine seems to be appropriate. Also, I recommend that User:Moonriddengirl be consulted on this issue.
Wavelength (talk) 19:39, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
All I can say, with my IT professional hat on, is that there's no principle behind a specific key comparable to an algorithm behind a specific program. The idea of a dichotomous key can't be copyright; a specific key is another matter. However, it's surely not for this Wikiproject to investigate issues in the Spanish WP. I was just using it as an example of what we here don't and shouldn't do. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:48, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Obvioulsy all the information on es:Nymphaeaceae page is on the references section, I can be sure of that because I know how that wikipedist works. A specific key may not be copied but I think if the information is presented as a table instead of a lead, with the authorship clearly established, it is only the information what wikipedia takes. I think is a good idea to consult what User:Moonriddengirl has to say about doing this, I want to know too so I can inform to the other wikipedia. --RoRo (talk) 00:36, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I've noticed that both the Spanish and the German Wikipedias (which I've used to augment articles here) use inline referencing less than we do, so my issue above is probably not with sourcing overall but inline attribution.
A table would clearly be ok; it's just an amalgamation of information. But a key is more than that: it involves deciding (1) the order in which to split the taxa (2) the best character to split them on. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:35, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Oh, that wikipedist and me too, we don't use inline citations when the body of the article is made with the references cited as bibliography.
Back to tables, I don't see the order is lost, tables have an arrangement of rows and columns. Is not that clear for me that a table is such a different thing than a key. Even when you use a key sometimes you do it as if it was a table, because you have to go back and forth looking for characters so you can decide which set best fit your specimen. --RoRo (talk) 13:39, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
A table looks for me like a "I copied only the information of the key but it was unavoidable that it looks so much like the original key", in fact for Peter coxhead a table is clearly different from the original key. And about putting the information on wikidata, I don't see is realistic to think that information will be useful as a polyclave someday, someone stated here that only 10% of the species are on wikipedia and adding information to wikidata is adding more work to the already slow process of making plant taxon articles. If a polyclave does not have a complete list of taxa is not useful. I think is better to focus on trying to complete the entries than to make a polyclave for the few we have. And I say "trying" because thousands of new species are published each year. --RoRo (talk) 14:01, 9 August 2013 (UTC)