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The Linnaean database

The Linnean Society of London


This page links to a searchable database containing typification details for all Linnaean plant names. For each binomial, we provide the place of publication, stated provenance, the type specimen (or illustration) and a reference to where the type choice was published, and an indication of the current name of the taxon within which Linnaeus' original binomial now falls (binomial and family names). Where relevant, detailed notes are provided (initially for the generitypes and the families Asteraceae and part of the Fabaceae). In particular, these notes aim to account for published observations that may fall short of formal typification. Detailed notes are being prepared and will be added to the database records as they are completed. Consequently, their absence from a given record does not necessarily mean that additional relevant literature has been overlooked. While these online records reflect our current knowledge, the typifications listed here are subject to continuous revision, not least because priority of choice (Art. 9.17) governs any decision. Consequently, the discovery of an earlier choice of type will lead to the displacement of the typification currently accepted here. While the Project has conducted (and continues to conduct) an extensive literature review, it is inevitable that significant contributions have either been overlooked or not yet taken into consideration. We would therefore be most grateful to learn of literature containing typifications of which we appear to have been unaware in reaching our current conclusions.

Where available, we provide an image of the type material, in the form of a small thumbnail linked to a full-size image. Approximately 50% of the generitypes are accompanied by images, principally from the Clayton, Clifford and Hermann herbaria at BM. However, we are most grateful to the Linnean Society of London for their permission to display images of those generitypes that are housed in LINN. We also hope to be able add images of type collections from other herbaria, as well as illustrations, in due course.

Linnaean Generitypes

Establishing Linnaean generitypes has not been a straightforward matter and may require some explanation here.

Under the I.C.B.N., the type of a generic name was, until comparatively recently, the name of an included species. For Linnaean generic names containing more than a single species when described, the type was to be established by priority of type choice. However, type choices made under the American Code (principally by Britton & Brown, and co-workers, between 1913 and 1926) had been treated by earlier editions of the I.C.B.N. as supersedable under some circumstances, on the grounds that they had been "based on a largely mechanical method of selection". However, the circumstances under which they could be superseded were unclear, leading to difficulties where American Code choices conflicted with those made by Hitchcock and Green in their near comprehensive assessment of Linnaean generic names in 1929. These discrepancies were assessed in detail by McNeill & al. (in Taxon 36(2): 350-401. 1987) and further scrutiny by a Special Committee, established by the Berlin Congress in 1987, resulted in 72 formal conservation proposals being made on its behalf, by Jarvis (in Taxon 41(3): 552-583. 1992). Continuing uncertainty over the status of American Code choices has resulted in decisions having been reached on only six of these proposals by September 2002. Of the remaining 68, 30 are to be re-submitted to the General Committee by its Secretary, Dr Fred Barrie for re-consideration for conservation, while the other 38 are now deemed to be unnecessary under the St. Louis Code (2000). This is based on the interpretation that, under 10.5, Ex. 7 (a voted example), American Code typifications are to be replaced, under Art. 10.5b, by their competing Hitchcock or Green (1929) type choices. It follows that where the same species was nominated as generitype by both groups of workers, the choice should now be attributed to either Hitchcock or Green. In a small number of cases, this interpretation also means a change in generitype, though usually without any serious nomenclatural implications at infrageneric ranks. The above factors account for most of the discrepancies in generitypes.

Priority of Type Choices and Code Changes

Although the discovery of earlier type choices, and post-1993 typifications probably account for the majority of the changes in recorded typifications to the entries in our 1993, "A List of Linnaean Generic Names and their Types" (Jarvis & al. (eds), Regnum Vegetabile 127: 1-100), two changes to the 1994 and 2000 Codes have also had a particular impact.

Art. 9.8 now allows the use by an author of a term such as "neotype", if incorrect, to be treated as a correctable error (rather than possibly rendering the typification ineffective).

Art. 9.14 states that material designated as a lectotype or neotype that comprises more than one specimen but belongs to a single gathering must be accepted as the lectotype (or neotype), even if the choice is subsequently restricted to one of the constituent specimens. This has had a particular influence on accepted typifications involving material in the Hermann herbarium (BM). Notable changes are discussed under individual binomials.


The database search engine used in this on-line database was designed by Anne Hume, and Steve Cafferty undertook much of the work involved in preparing the database for use in this way. The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project gratefully acknowledges grant support from the Linnean Society of London.

Contact: Charlie Jarvis

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