Important Changes in Botanical Nomenclature (Naming) Rules

This post is taken from an article in the Botanical Electronic News by Dr. A. Ceska in Victoria, British Columbia.


From: John McNeill, Rapporteur-général, Nomenclature Section, XVIII IBC, Melbourne 24–29 July 2011

1) Electronic publication

The Nomenclature Section accepted a proposal to add the words in bold to
Art. 29.1 and also accepted a number of corollary proposals, the effect of
the more important of which is described below:

“29.1. Publication is effected, under this “Code”, by distribution of printed matter (through sale, exchange or gift) to the general public or
At least to botanical institutions with libraries accessible to botanists
generally. Publication is also effected by electronic distribution of material in Portable Document Format (PDF; see also Rec. 29A.0) in an online serial publication with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) or an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).  Publication is not effected by communication of new names at a public meeting, by the placing of names in collections or gardens open to the public, by the issue of microfilm made from manuscripts, typescripts or other unpublished material, or by distribution electronically other than as described above.”
“29.2. For the purpose of this Article, ‘online’ is defined as
accessible electronically via the World Wide Web.”

In order for any nomenclatural action, e.g. the description of a new
species, the transfer of a species to a different genus, or actions
(typifications) to fix the application of a name, to be effective, it must
be “effectively published” Article 29 specifies what this means.  Hitherto
the distribution of printed matter has been necessary– now this may also be distribution of electronic material in pdf.

The effective date of the new provisions is 1 January 2012, a year earlier
than would be normal for implementation of a decision to change the Code’s requirements.

There are also provisions establishing that the content of a particular
electronic publication must not be altered after it is first issued and that
a version indicated as preliminary is not effectively published.

For published comment see:

2) Modification of the Latin requirement

Currently, in order to publish the name of a new taxon, e.g. a species, of
non-fossil plants a description and/or a diagnosis in Latin must be
provided. The Nomenclature Section modified this so that effective from 1
January 2012, the description and/or diagnosis may be in either English or Latin for valid publication of the name of all new taxa. [This is the
current requirement for names of plant fossils, published on of after 1 January 1996 – previously for fossil plants it was any language.]

Since 1935 a Latin description or diagnosis has been required for new taxa of all non-fossil plants, except algae, for which the requirement has
existed since 1958.

3) “One fungus – one name” and “one fossil – one name”

For over 30 years, the “International Code of Botanical Nomenclature” has had provision for separate names for asexual and sexual morphs of those
fungi whose life history involves such very different morphological
expressions that, until recently, were commonly impossible to link one to the other. Molecular studies have changed this situation very substantially, and more and more connections are being made, so that the asexual phase (the anamorph) and the sexual phase (the teleomorph) of the one fungal species are increasingly being identified.

As a result it has become increasingly anomalous to have separate names for the anamorph and the teleomorph phases of the one fungal species, and the concept of one name for one fungus has become increasingly supported by mycologists even with a – One Fungus – One Name symposium held earlier this year in Amsterdam, leading to an  Amsterdam Declaration seeking this change in the Code.

The Nomenclature Section agreed to delete the Article (Art. 59) with the
detailed provisions for anamorph and teleomorph names that included a
restriction that the name applied to the whole fungus (the holomorph) had to be one that was based on a teleomorphic element. In the place of the current Art. 59, provisions to minimise nomenclatural change as a result of adopting the one fungus, one name principle. This change will take effect from 1 January 2013.

The nomenclature of fossils falling under the “Code” has had similar but
even more extensive provisions for separate names for fossils that might
prove to belong to the same species. In the current “Code”, a name based on a fossil applied only to the part of the organism, the life-history stage,
or the preservational state represented by the fossil upon which the name was based. Named fossil taxa were therefore different from those of
non-fossil organisms and were termed “morphotaxa”.

This meant that even if organic connections could be made between different fossils, there was no clear provision for naming the more complete organism.

The Nomenclature Section decided to abandon the whole concept of morphotaxa, and as a result names of fossils will be exactly like other names, and if organic connections are made the earliest name applicable to the integrated fossil taxon will be the name to use, so as with fungi, the principle of “one fossil, one name” has been adopted.

4) “Registration” of names of fungi

Most of the major journals publishing mycological papers currently require, as a condition of acceptance of the paper, that any new name being published includes a “MycoBank” identifier. The Nomenclature Section agreed to go a step further and require this for valid publication of any new fungal name.

The main components of the new Article are:
“For organisms treated as fungi under this “Code” (Pre.7), from 1 January 2013 the citation of an identifier issued by a recognized repository … in
the protologue is an additional requirement for valid publication.

Further clauses explain that the minimum elements of information being
registered must be those required for valid publication under the existing provisions of the “Code” (Art. 32.1 (b–e)) and establish that the
Nomenclature Committee for Fungi has the power to appoint “one or more localized or decentralized open and accessible electronic repositories to perform this function” to remove such repositories at its discretion; and even to set aside the requirement should the repository mechanism, cease to function.

The currently appointed repository is “MycoBank” (

5) Title of the “Code”

In order to make clearer that the “Code” covers fungi as well as green
plants the Section agreed that the title should be:

“International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants”,
instead of the existing  “International Code of Botanical Nomenclature”.

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2 Comments on “Important Changes in Botanical Nomenclature (Naming) Rules”

  1. [...] of this year, newly discovered plants can be named in English as well as Latin. The New York Flora Association explains how taxonomy works [...]

  2. [...] partir de ahora está permitido hacerlo también en inglés, según dictaminó el pasado verano el Congreso Internacional de Botánica, cuyo Código Internacional de Nomenclatura Botánica (CINB) [...]

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