The binomial tradition of scientific nomenclaturesuch as Homo sapiens for humansdates to the 1753 publication of Species Plantarum by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707). As part of the process of establishing the scientific foundation for a new species, botanists must describe the species in exacting detail, focusing on the attributes that make a species unique. Since 1908 the international code for botanical nomenclature has required that description to be in Latin.
For example, when Dr. Miller gave a new species the binomial name Cordia koemarae in 2001, his lengthy Latin description began, "Arbor ad 8 m alta, ramunculis sparse pilosis, trichomatis 2-2.5 mm longis." (Tree 8 meters tall, the twigs sparsely but evenly pilose [covered with fine hairs], the hairs 2-2.5 mm long.)
With the new nomenclature rules, the binomial scientific names for new species will still be latinized, but a Latin description of the plant will no longer be mandatory. Beginning in 2012, the description must be in either Latin or English.
Botanists hope that an additional benefit of electronic publication of new species will be that more researchers will have easy access to the information.
"As many universities and research institutions in the developing world cannot afford to subscribe to large numbers of journals, it is hoped that this will improve access for a greater number of the world's taxonomists," the authors wrote.
Some 200 delegates, most of them members of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, atte
|Contact: Stevenson Swanson|
The New York Botanical Garden