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Proposal to conserve Kyphocarpa with that spelling (Caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae)[edit]

Jean-Sébastien Girard,
Wikispecies and IRMNG contributor
16650 Darlington, App. 304, Montreal H3S 2J5, Quebec, Canada

Gabriele Kothe-Heinrich,
Wikispecies contributor
Südring 23, D-64846 Groß-Zimmern, Germany

Kyphocarpa (Fenzl) Lopr. in Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 27: 42. 1899 (Cyphocarpa), nom. et orth. cons. prop. [Amaranth.].
Typus: K. trichinioides (Fenzl) Lopr.

In November of 2019, an issue arose on Wikispecies ( regarding the correct spelling and authorship of a genus known as either Kyphocarpa (Fenzl.) Lopr. or Cyphocarpa Lopr. (Amaranthaceae: Amaranthoideae). Investigation revealed that while the literature at large almost universally used Kyphocarpa (Fenzl.) Lopr., nomenclatural databases (e.g., ING,; IPNI,; TROPICOS,; GBIF,, etc.) preferred Cyphocarpa Lopr., a spelling that is now beginning to spread into the literature (e.g. Hernández-Ledesma et al., Willdenowia, 45(3): 304. 2015).

The name Cyphocarpa was coined by Lopriore (Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 27: 42. 1899), ascribing authorship in the form "(Fenzl) Lopr.". He cited in synonymy Fenzl's name Sericocoma subg. Kyphocarpa (Linnaea 17: 324. 1843, where Fenzl had corrected his sphalmate Sericocoma a.[unranked] Hypocarpha Fenzl ex Endl., Gen. Pl., Suppl. 3: 33. 1842), though he did so erroneously as a section and citing page 323. Lopriore noted "For the sake of uniformity, I have changed Kyphocarpa to Cyphocarpa" ("Der Gleichförmigkeit wegen habe ich Kyphocarpa in Cyphocarpa abgeändert."). He made no similar comments when citing the epithet of the type species as "trichinoides" rather than Fenzl's trichinioides (the epithet is based off Trichinium R.Br.), this is a correctable error.

It appears that Schinz (in Nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 2 16c: 43. 1934) was the first author to argue in favor of reverting the spelling to Kyphocarpa. In this he has been largely followed by others throughout most of the 20th century (e.g. Süssenguth, Mitt. Bot. Staatssamml. München 1(5): 146. 1952; Cavaco, Mém. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat., Sér. B, Bot. 13(1): 70. 1962; Townsend, Fl. Zambes. 9(1): 64. 1988; Lebrun & Stork, Publ. Hors Sér. Conserv. Jard. Bot. Genève 7: 103. 1991; Arnold & de Wet, Mem. Bot. Surv. South Africa 62: 246-247. 1993; Greuter et al., Regnum Veg. 129:598. 1993; Townsend in Kubitzki, Rohwer & Bittrich, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 2: 83. 1993; Jordaan in Leistner, Strelitzia 10:51. 2000; Herman et al., Strelitzia 14:114. 2003; Mabberley, Pl.-Book, rev. ed., abr.:384. 2008; Christenhusz, Fay & Chase, Pl. World Ill. Encycl. Vasc. Pl.: 450. 2017; Hyde et al., Fl. Mozambique [online], 2020, etc.). None of the few independent uses of Cyphocarpa that could be found (e.g. Cufodontis, Bull. Jard. Bot. État Bruxelles 23(3-4): 63. 1953; Goldblatt, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 65(2): 434. 1978; Hernández-Ledesma et al., loc. cit.) were in the context of a revisionary work.

This schism originates in differing interpretation of the application of Art. 60.3 of the Code ("The liberty of correcting a name is to be used with reserve, especially if the change affects the first syllable and, above all, the first letter of the name," emphasis by the authors) to Lopriore's protologue. If it is taken to be an entirely new name (i.e. stat. et nom. nov.), then it must be spelled with a C and doing otherwise violates Art. 60.3. Fenzl's name is legitimate and Art. 58.1 does not apply here. If, however (and the arguments in favor of this interpretation are not so easily ignored), it is merely an elevation of Fenzl's name to generic status (i.e. comb. nov.), then it is Lopriore who violates the code by altering Fenzl's spelling and must be corrected.

Communications with IPNI (K. Gandhi, pers. comm.) and ING (G. Zijlstra, pers. comm.) have not brought to light specific arguments in favor of "Cyphocarpa Lopr."— with Kyphocarpa treated as an orthographic variant and attributed to Schinz (l.c.) in these databases. Whereas Names in Current Use for Extant Plant Genera (Greuter & al., l.c.) adopted Fenzl's spelling, Farr & al., in the original printed volumes of ING (in Regnum Veg. 100: 480; 101: 922. 1979), favored Lopriore's (albeit erroneously ascribing the name to "(Fenzl) Lopriore").

Requests for spelling conservation may arise out of a split in usage (e.g. Podostemum, Patil & al. in Taxon 66: 760, or Aconogonon Gandhi & Reveal in Taxon 63: 687) or because it comes to light that the widely used spelling is in fact not the original one (e.g. Dehaasia, Balakrishnan & Chakrabarty in Taxon 60: 1218). It is less common for a spelling to be in universal use in the literature while key nomenclatural databases almost universally disagree and use a different one. We have not found any recent comparable cases aside from that of Mezoneuron (Reveal & Gandhi in Taxon 61: 1124), where the issue was more typographical than interpretive. Normally an issue of authorship interpretation would be at best a minor dispute over priority. In this case, however, it makes it unclear which spelling of the name is to be treated as original, and furthermore in a way the Code specifically points out as problematic.

If a mere appeal to common usage could have solved this situation, there would have been no need for this proposal. The current situation leaves third party users of data, such as Wikispecies and the Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG), in the awkward position of deciding, without any published material directly addressing the topic to guide us, whether the databases or the literature ought to be followed. In the interest of nomenclatural stability, we are requesting a final determination—in either direction—as to which spelling is to be used for this name. Although we are proposing conservation of Kyphocarpa, this is simply because that is the more widely used spelling.