|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 237 December 14, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Whenever Oxycoccus (Ericaceae) is resurrected as it was, for example, by Szczawinski in 1962, Seymour (1953) is certain to be cited with approbation and, as often as not, the "quote" from Fernald (1950) as well. Unfortunately, Fernald's sense of irony was completely misrepresented by Seymour who obviously had not seen the diagnostic features for both sections on page 1131. Fernald (1959) wrote:
"Corolla deeply 4-parted or -cleft, with reflexed linear lobes, nodding on long filiform pedicels; anthers exserted, awnless, with very long terminal tubes; berries red to dark purple, brown, blackish, or sometimes pale.
Upright shrub with broad deciduous membranaceous serrate leaves; flowers solitary, axillary, jointed with the pedicel; berries insipid or sweetish." (subgen. 7) Oxycoccoides
"Trailing lithe-stemmed evergreens with narrow coriaceous often revolute entire leaves; flowers solitary or in small racemes from terminal buds, not jointed with pedicel; berries acid." Subgen. 8 Oxycoccus
Had Seymour (1953) read the above description for both Oxycoccus and Oxycoccoides, viz, corolla 4-merous and lobes reflexed at anthesis, the irony of Fernald's exclamatory statement on p. 1135 would have been self evident!
"V. erythrocarpum Michx. (red-fruited), MOUNTAIN-CRANBERRY, BEARBERRY. Woody divergently branched shrub 0.3-2.5 m. high, with exfoliating bark; leaves oblong- to ovate- lanceolate, acute, membranaceous, up to 7.5 cm. long and 1-3 cm. broad, closely serrate; flowers solitary in the axils; corolla deeply 4-cleft nearly to base into recurving pink or white narrow lobes; anthers long-exserted, awnless, with very long terminal tubes; berry red to brownish or darker, or black in forma nigrum Allard (black), insipid to sweetish. (Hugeria Small) - Thickets rocky woods, slopes or summits, mts. of Ga. and Tenn. to W. Va. and w. Va. Fr. Aug., Sept. - Closely related species in e. Asia; worthy the thought of those who separate subgen. Oxycoccus as a genus!"
The intent of the exclamation was to demonstrate that his revision of Gray's manual was indeed substantial and incorporated new information whenever possible. In this instance, Sleumer's (1941) taxonomic revision of the Vaccinioidae was adopted instead of Gray's (1867) alignment.
In short, neither reflexed corolla lobes nor the 4-merous condition are unique to Oxycoccus but are found elsewhere in Vaccinium. For example, V. uliginosum L., V. vitis-idaea L., V. meridionale Sw. and V. crenatum Sleumer, inter alia, are all 4-merous. Long anther tubules are also widespread in Vaccinium especially in V. stamineum L. and V. poasanum D. Smith.
Since Oxycoccus is no more different than any other of the remaining 33 sections (Sleumer, 1941; Stevens 1969), the only logical approach is to recognize all these sections as genera as was done by Small in 1933 or to retain them all in Vaccinium as was done by Luteyn et al in 1998. Surely it is more reasonable to treat Vaccinium as a comprehensive genus rather than a complex of 33 small genera.
It seems that German bryologists have run out of mosses to study and have turned to studying themselves. I found the following article in Number 26 of the "Bryologische Rundbriefe" (bryological circulars) published by Jan-Peter Frahm from Bonn, Germany. It is a very interesting study of the length of German bryologists' lives based on birth-and-death dates for 789 German bryologists. In short, the study finds that German bryologists live somewhat shorter lives on average than today's average German male, but that since most of these chaps lived in the past few hundred years when lives were shorter in general, German bryologists of today have reason to be optimistic. - TS
But now for our article:
"Like most bryologists, Carl Warnstorf got old, dying at an age of 83", writes Jan-Peter Frahm in the "Dictionary of German bryologists" (1995). An expansion of the list of included persons into the entire German-speaking area of central Europe, a greater consideration of the German bryologists working and collecting in foreign countries and other additions of data in the course of the planned illustrated 2nd edition of this dictionary (for which Frahm has asked for my help) gives an opportunity to answer this question for "most" bryologists. If one looks at the portraits, especially at the gallery of long-bearded learned men of the last century, at a time when the idealistic image had not been yet replaced by trying to look as young as possible, this impression of bryologists being old men is re-enforced. But how old did they really get?
Out of a total of about 1150 persons, 789 with known birth and death dates (rounded to year) were available. This list includes everything from the 21 year old Friedrich Stolz, who tumbled down in the Alps, to the native Luebecker, Spilhaus, who went to Cape Town as a businessman and there died at 101 years old. The average age lies around 69 years, somewhat under the life expectancy of today's German males and does not differ much from a comparative international group, made up of 621 non-German bryologists in the overview by Sayre (1977). In his study, too, the span reaches from 21 to 96 years and the average is 69.
Since in Sayre's work only authors of moss descriptions are considered, in other words the real collectors are missing, one might have expected a different result. Therefore in our German selection we have a strong representation of those who fell victim to tropical sicknesses and those who disappeared or were murdered in foreign countries, especially young people: among those under 30 for instance Kuehl, Hellwig, Rutenberg, Holst, T. Vogel, amongst those under 40 Kaernbach, Hildebrandt, Werner, Leichhardt, Elbert, Kegel, Pabst, Beyrich, Schiede, Zenker, Buchholz. However, since these two age groups combined comprise only 5% of the included bryologists, their proportion does not carry much weight.
In addition and rather unexpectedly, many of those who made tropical voyages reached a considerable age, despite difficulties and sicknesses; for example Goebel (77), Herzog (81), Reinwardt (81), Schiffner (82), Graeffe (83), Hasskarl (83), Ledermann (83), Prinz zu Wied (85), Breutel (87), Drege (87), Schweinfurth (89), Humboldt (89), Schwanecke (95) and R.A. Philippi (96). A look at the table shows more than anything that the lump of entries of the 70-79 and 80-89 year-olds, which together form over 50% of the whole, justifies the impression that bryologists live to get especially old. This so much more, since the life expectancy in the past centuries was clearly shorter than today.
Should you like to verify Mr Eggers' calculations, or perhaps stratify them yourself by century, over 15 pages of raw data, giving the birth and death dates of each of the 789 people, can be found on the web at http://www.uni-bonn.de/bryologie/br.htm - click Nr. 26.
For almost two decades, "A Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Plants of North America ..." has been a standard botanical reference for North American flora. It was originally published in 1980 and thoroughly updated in 1994. When the 1994 edition was published, it was obvious that the next step would have to be an electronic version of this work. Soon after the book edition, the list became available on the USDA web page. In 1998, a set of electronic databases was announced as "Digital Floristic Synthesis of North America", and it was advertised by Patricia Ledlie Bookseller, Inc. [see BEN # 187]. For some reason the deal fell through, but in August 1999 the North Carolina Botanical Garden completed this project and published "Synthesis" on a CD-ROM (the orders previously placed through Patricia Ledlie will be honored).
The backbone of the "Synthesis" is the updated Kartesz (1994): "A Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the United States, Canada, and Greenland." In the "Synthesis" this list is expanded into a comprehensive database. Common names are added to the taxonomical lists and about 135 "biological attributes" are listed for all species, hybrids, and infraspecific taxa. These "biological attributes" include state/provincial and national rarity and endemism, nativity, weediness, habit (tree, shrub, vine, etc.), habitat, trophic level, duration, etc.
The "Synthesis" software was written by Dr. Christopher Meacham, plant taxonomist and software specialist at the Jepson Herbarium, University of California at Berkeley. The program is designed for IBM-compatible computers running Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT, or 2000 operating systems, with at least 25 MB of available hard-disk space, a Pentium or faster processor, and minimally 32 MB of RAM. The program can also be used on Macintosh computers running Virtual PC software, although it is recommended that the computer have components that are comparable to or better than those indicated above.
The program running the "Synthesis" database is slick. It is one of the fastest, smartest, and the most user-friendly software I have ever encountered. By a click of the mouse you can selected names (with or without the authority, and with or without a common name) and copy them into a Word or WordPerfect document. You don't have to type your species lists any more, and the insertion of species name in any document is almost automatic. The program displays species' distributions in North American states or provinces and with the use of "mouse-over" technique, it displays instantly the source of information for the species' distribution in the selected state or province. I was surprised and flattered to see BEN as a source of several records for British Columbia. Boolean search enables you to make lists of species with selected attributes for selected areas. The possibilities are endless.
I browsed through the database and found only very few mistakes. For instance, Asplenium viride is still listed as A. trichomanes-ramosum, Carex enanderi is listed with a wrong authority, etc. Some spelling mistakes and occurrences based on unvouchered reports will be cleaned by the feedback of users of the database. I wish, however, that the database would include several more fields, namely the total distribution for each species, Raunkier life forms, and chromosome numbers.
This "Synthesis" should be on a computer of every serious botanist in North America. I don't understand the pricing policy of CD-ROM products, but I believe that the price US$495.00 for "Synthesis" is too high and out-of-reach of average botanists or smaller botanical institutions in North America. I am convinced that the North Carolina Botanical Garden would sell at least 30 times more copies if they charged $49.50 (one tenth of the actual price) for a copy. As a consolation for those who cannot afford "Synthesis", most of the information is also available on the following web site: http://plants.usda.gov/plants/ But on a long run, if you have to write a fair amount of botanical names, the "Synthesis" will save you time and nerves.
Further information about BONAP and ongoing work by John Kartesz, a "Synthesis" order form, and an ongoing listing of post-publication updates to the "Synthesis" database, are all available on BONAP's web site (http://www.bonap.org/).
P.S. I noticed that Dr. Kartesz published 41 new nomenclatural combinations at the back of the title insert for the CD-ROM. That's quite a brave challenge to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature; I wonder if such a publication can be considered valid.