Taxonomic database format

The key building block of this database is the Taxon, or plant name. All taxa are delimited inside square braces: "[]", and contain at least a Genus and a species name. Here is a simple example of the name for the Venus's Fly Trap:

[Dionaea muscipula]

For casual usage, this level of detail is sufficient. But in some cases, several plants may have been given the same name at different times. This was usually the fault of poor communication or misinformation. To clarify these situations, a full name citation will include information about who published the name. All author citations are delimited by curly braces: "{}" Here is an example of two times that the name Drosera capensis was used for different plants:

[Drosera capensis {E.MEY. ex PLANCH.}]
+[Drosera capensis {L.}]

In the last example, the second name was given by the botanist Linnaeus (abbreviated to just "L.") and is considered the valid one. Valid names are always prefaced with a plus sign "+". Cultivar names are prefaced by a dollar sign "$", and invalid names are prefaced by a tilde sign "~".

The idea of valid names also applies to more complicated constructs like hybrids. For instance, the hybrid between Drosera capensis and Drosera aliciae has been named quite appropriately as Drosera * 'capicia' . This information is spelled out in the database entry as:

N: [Drosera * ' capiciae ' {HORT. ex HORT.BOT.PALMENGART.}]
P: in sched. (1994)
S: =[[Drosera capensis {L.}] * [Drosera aliciae {HAMET}]]

In this example, you can see that hybrid names are prefaced with an asterix "*". Also introduced in this example are the field delimiters: "N:","P:" and "S:". These help structure the data. The "N:" line contains the Name of the entry. "P:" gives a reference to where the Name was Published (In this case, the publication is scheduled to come out sometime in 1994). The "S:" entry gives a Synonym for the name, in this case a hybrid formula. Elements of a hybrid formula are delimited by an asterix "*", and nesting is shown by square brackets. This usage of brackets does not conflict with their use for delimiting names, as the combination of two names into a hybrid is itself a valid name. Finally, this example shows that Synonyms are always introduced with either an equal sign "=", or a slash "/". Slashes are used when a name may have been applied to several different species. It stands for "partly", and means that the name is a partial synonym. This often happens when an old taxa is split into two new species on the basis of newer evidence.

Now that you know the general structure of the database, here are some lists of other abbreviations and field delimiters that are used:

  • F: = family
  • G: = genus
  • N: = name
  • P: = publication
  • PW: = url of any web-based publication
  • S: = status
  • B: = breeder
  • L: = distribution locations
  • C: = comment field for notes like: (non-carnivorous)
  • T: = holotype (the herbarium type specimen upon which a name is based)
  • BN: = basionym (the name on which an altered combination is based)
  • LT: = lectotype (if holotype doesn't exist)
  • NT: = neotype (if holotype is lost, only)
  • IT: = isotype (if holotype is lost, only)
  • PT: = paratype (if holotype is lost, only)
  • FT: = phototype (if holotype is lost, only)
  • XN: = somatic chromosome number. This is in the form of eg: (-32),64 where the comma denotes at least one different count. The number which was obtained less often or which is less probable stands in "()". A "-" means that chromosome numbers are not stable (aneuploidy), and counts within certain limits (sometimes with a maximum of frequency: this is outside "()") have been obtained.
  • XNP: = chromosome number publication
  • * = hybrid sign (for lack of a better ascii symbol)
  • + = valid name, eg: "N: +[Nepenthes ampullaria]"
  • ~ = invalid name, eg: "N: ~[Dionaea heterodoxa]"
  • $ = cultivar name, eg: "N: $[Dionaea ' Akai Ryu ']"
  • ? = any kind of uncertainty
  • / = pro parte (partly)
  • | = Specimen deletum (specimen destroyed)
  • in sched. = "In schedis" (on labels) in Herbaria or on plants cultivated and displayed at Botanic gardens
  • nom.dub. = "Nomen dubium" (literally: "dubious name" the status of which is obscure)
  • nom.illeg. = "Nomen illegitimum" (literally: "bastard name" earlier valid synonym cited in protologue or type typifies an earlier valid synonym)
  • nom.nud. = "Nomen nudum" (literally "naked name" no description and/or no type)
  • sphalm.typogr. = "Sphalma typographicum" (misprint)
  • Here is a list of Geographic Abbreviations

    Ala. = Alabama
    AM = America
    Ang. = Angola
    AS = Asia
    AU = Australia
    Bel. = Belize
    Bol. = Bolivia
    C = central
    C.Rica = Costa Rica
    Ca. = California
    Can. = Canada
    E = east(-ern)
    Eth. = Ethiopia
    EU = Europe
    Fla. = Florida
    Ga. = Georgia
    Gal.Is. = Galapagos Islands
    Guat. = Guatemala
    Guin. = Guinea
    Guy. = Guyana
    Himal. = Himalaya
    Hond. = Honduras
    Indon. = Indonesia
    La. = Louisiana
    Madag. = Madagascar
    Mal. = Penins.Malaysia & Singapore
    Mass. = Massachusetts
    Mex. = Mexico
    Mich. = Michigan
    Miss. = Mississippi
    Moz. = Mozambique
    N = north(-ern)
    NC. = North Carolina
    N.Caled. = New Caledonia
    N.Guin. = New Guinea
    N.Zeal. = New Zealand
    NJ. = New Jersey
    NY. = New York
    Ore. = Oregon
    Pan. = Panama
    Par. = Paraguay
    Phil. = Philippines
    S = south(-ern)
    SC. = South Carolina
    Sen. = Senegal
    subtr. = subtropical
    Tan. = Tanzania
    Thail. = Thailand
    tr. = tropical
    Trin. = Trinidad & Tobago
    Uru. = Uruguay
    Va. = Virginia
    Ven. = Venezuela
    W = west(-ern)
    W.Indies = West Indies
    Zam. = Zambia
    Zim. = Zimbabwe

    Rick Walker
    rick_walker "AT"