Csiro scienceimage 3557 otero tupac working with orchids

Greenfly Orchid: the name game [taxonomy]

Scientific

by John Marmaro

The long-standing name of the "Greenfly Orchid", the northernmost epiphytic orchid in the Western Hemisphere,  was recently changed:  it was discovered in 2000 that Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg's 1813 publication of Epidendrum magnoliae occurred about a month before Robert Brown's 1813 Epidendrum conopseum. For so long-established a concept as Epidendrum conopseum, what arguably should have been done is that Brown's long-used name ought to have been conserved over the unknown Muhlenberg epithet.  But no, what was likely considered the "poliltically correct" step was taken, and the species was almost universally rechristened as Epidendrum magnoliae. But guess what?   Muhlenberg's name wasn't validly published!  He never cited a type locality, which invalidates the publication -- so it turns out that the whole taxonomic community was "a little bit previous" in making the change, since Epidendrum conopseum is the valid name, after all!

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