Northern Ontario Plant Database
Definitions and Abbreviations of Terms used in the NOPD Checklist
Synonymy and the abbreviations used in nomenclatural citations can by very confusing to the non-botanist. The terminology and abbreviations commonly employed in this database is defined below.
accepted name – The name of a taxon that is considered to be the correct name or the most acceptable name, based on recent botanical references.
auct. – Abbreviation for author (Latin: auctorum).
auct. non – The use of "auct. non" denotes a common misapplication or misinterpretation of a species name, i.e., a taxon that was identified erroneously as the named species, but not in the sense of the original author. When the identification of a plant is misapplied, rather than based on the original author's description, the name is placed in synonymy with the correct species name, and the abbreviation "auct. non" is placed before the original author's name. Example: plants of Cerastium glomeratum Thuill., were often misidentified as Cerastium viscosum L., based on some authors' misapplication of Linnaeus's concept of the species. Therefore, the name Cerastium viscosum auct. non L., meaning Cerastium viscosum, according to some authors but not Linnaeus, is listed as a synonym of the accepted name, Cerastium glomeratum Thuill. In some cases, authors of a specific country will be identified, as in Parnassia caroliniana Can. auct., non Michx., meaning in the sense of Canadian authors, not Michaux, or Montia rivularis Amer. auct.& C.C. Gmel., p.p., meaning in the sense of American authors and C.C. Gmelin, in part.
autonym – A subspecies or variety name that is the duplicate of the specific epithet. Autonyms are formed when a new subspecies or variety is described by an author. Autonyms carry the name of the author of the species and are based on the original type specimen; they do not require a new description. Example: when Sagina nodosa (L.) Fenzl subsp. borealis was described by Garrett Crow in 1978, the autonym Sagina nodosa var. nodosa (L.) Fenzl was automatically created.
basionym – The original or first validly described name for a species (or other taxon). A basionym has priority over other subsequently published names given to the same species by different authors. If the species is transferred to a different genus, the specific epithet is retained. Example: the species Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake, was originally described as Vaccinium album L., so Vaccinium album L. is the basionym of Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake.
basionym author – The author of a basionym. If the species is transferred to a different genus, the specific epithet will be retained and the name of the basionym author will be placed in parentheses before the author of the new combination, hence the alternate name of parenthetical author for the basionym author of a new combination. Example: the species Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake was originally described by Linnaeus as Vaccinium album L., so Linnaeus, abbreviated as L., is the basionym author of Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake.
Beissn. et al. – Abbreviation for the authors Beissner, Schelle, and Zabel.
B.S.P. – The author abbreviation commonly used for the team of Britton, Sterns, & Poggenb. (Nathaniel Lord Britton, Emerson Ellick Sterns & Justus Ferdinand Poggenburg). A newer, alternate abbreviation for this team is Britton et al.
comb. illeg. – An illegitimate combination (Latin: combinatio illegitimum). Any combination that is not legitimate according to the rules of the ICBN. Example: Agrostis vinealis Schreb. var. gigantea (Roth) Pers., comb. illeg.
comb. inval. – An invalid combination (Latin: combinatio invalidum). Any combination that is invalid according to the rules of the ICBN. Example: Diplazium angustifolium (Michx.) Butters, comb. inval.
cv. – Cultivar. A taxonomic rank applied to cultivated plant, referring to garden or agricultural varieties not known in the wild. Cultivar names are governed by the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. The abbreviation cv. to denote a cultivar name has now been replaced by the cultivar name being placed in quotes. Example: Populus ×jackii Sarg. "Gileadensis" is the sterile, hybrid poplar cultivar known in eastern Canada as balm-of-Gilead.
emend. – A modification or amendment to the original description of a taxon (Latin: emendatus). Example 1: Callitriche verna L. emend. Kütz. The species description of Callitriche verna was amended by Kütz. Amendments, usually made because some aspect of the original description was missing or confusing, are meant to clarify the species description. Amendments must be made according to the type specimen. Example 2: Brassica rapa L. and B. campestris L., published on the same date by Linnaeus, were put together by Metzger under the species B. rapa L. emend. Metzger.
et al. – The abbreviatoin for "and others" (Latin: et aliorum). When more than 2 authors appear in a citation, the abbreviation "et al." is placed after the first author. Example: Conioselinum chinense (L.) B.S.P. can also be written as Conioselinum chinense (L.) Britton et al., in place of the full author citation of N.T. Britton, E.A. Sterns, and J.E. Poggenburg. This same method is used to refer to bibliographic citations in the text which are authored by several people.
ex – The word "ex" is used to denote the work of the publishing author when a name is described and attributed to a previous author whose work was not validly published. Both authors should be listed in the original name and when the author citation is reduced to parenthetical status. Example: Muhlenberg's description of Stellaria longifolia was not validly published, but the name was later validated by Willdenow, who made the combination Stellaria longifolia Muhl. ex Willd. When the species was transferred by Britton to the genus Alsine, the combination became Alsine longifolia (Muhl. ex Willd.) Britton. Note that both names of the basionym author are retained in the parenthetical position.
f. – The abbreviation for "filius" (son of) or "filium" (the daughter of). Example: Cornus alternifolia L.f. The son of Carl Linnaeus, also named Carl Linnaeus, was the author of the species name Cornus alternifolia.
FNA – Abbreviation for the Flora of North America taxonomic series, published by the Missouri Botanic Garden through Oxford University Press.
forma – Forma. An infraspecific (lower) taxonomic rank below the rank of variety, denoting minor differences in morphology, such as variations in the colour of petals or fruit. The rank of forma can be abbreviated as "fa." to avoid confusion with the abbreviation "f" for filius. (French: forme).
genus – The first word of a species name. Example: 'Acer' is the genus name of the species Acer rubrum.
GRIN – Acronym for the Germplasm Resources Information Network, an online taxonomic information database on cultivated plants in the United States.
H.B.K. – Abbreviation for the author team of Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, Aimé Bonpland, and Carl Sigismund Kunth.
homonyms - Identical names, described by different authors at different times, and referring to different species based on different types. Homonyms refer to different species with the same name. Example: The name Stellaria humifusa was created by Rottbøll in 1770 and by Retzius in 1779, Rottbøll's name has priority since it was published first, so Retzius' name is an illegitimate homonym (nom. illeg.) of Stellaria humifusa Rottb.
hort. - The abbreviation "hort." refers to a name used in the horticulture trade (Latin: hortulanorum), but whose origin or authors are unknown. Example: Petunia ×hybrida hort. ex E.Vilm. The garden petunia was known throughout the horticulture trade as Petunia ×hybrida, but the original author was unknown and a valid botanical description of the species was not published until 1863, when Elisa de Vilmorin validated the name.
hybrid – A plant created by mating two different species (or any other taxonomic rank). A hybrid species created as the result of crossing 2 different species is identified by the mathematical sign "×" preceding the specific epithet in the species name. The species names of the two parents, if known, are written in parentheses following the name and authorities of the hybrid taxon. Example 1: Petunia ×hybrida hort. ex E.Vilm. is a cross between Petunia axillaris and Petunia integrifolia. Similarly, hybrid genera can be created by crossing species of two different genera. Hybrid genera are identified by an × preceding the genus name. Example 2: ×Elyhordeum macounii (Vasey) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey is a generic cross between Hordeum jubatum and Elymus trachycaulus.
ICBN – International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. The rules set in the ICBN govern the naming of organisms traditionally treated as plants. A separate code, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, deals with subspecific categories of plants, such as cultivars are clones, used in forestry, horticulture, and agriculture. See Greuter et al. (2000).
in - The word "in" is used to denote a taxon described by one author occurring in the work of a different author. Only the first author (the author of the name, not the book or article), is required to be cited, but we have included such names in this database to facilitate reference to the original publication, if desired. Example: John Richardson published the description of Stellaria laeta in the Botanical Appendix to Captain Franklin's Narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea, making the combination Stellaria laeta Richardson in Franklin. Later, when Sereno Watson reduced this taxon to a variety of Stellaria longipes, the combination became Stellaria longipes var. laeta (Richardson) S.Watson. Note that the "in Franklin" portion of the basionym author is not transferred to the new combination.
infraspecific ranks - Any taxonomic rank below the species level. Subspecies and varieties are both infraspecific ranks.
IPNI - International Plant Name Index. A collaborative work by The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (Great Britain), The Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium. This database includes separate search pages for plant names, authors, or publications. See:
isonyms - Two or more names of identical spelling that are published independently by different authors at different times, and which are based on the same type specimen. Only the earliest isonym is considered valid. Example: Minuartia rubella (Wahlenb.) Hiern 1899, non Graebn. 1918. The combination Minuartia rubella was published independently by Hiern in 1899 and by Graebner in 1918. The combination published by Hiern has priority and is the legitimate name, while the combination created by Grisebach has no nomenclatural status, being the later isonym.
legitimate name – A name that is validly published according to the rules of the ICBN.
MBG - Missouri Botanical Garden. See W3-Tropicos.
nm. – Abbreviation for nothomorph (Greek: nothomorphos). A taxonomic rank denoting a hybrid between different subspecies or varieties of a taxon. Example: Carex ×saxenii nm. ferruginea Lepage. Names published at the rank of nothomorph are treated as equivalent in rank to varieties (ICBN, Art. H12.2). (French: nothomorphe)
nom. – The Latin word for name (Latin: nomen).
nom. ambig. – An ambiguous name used in senses other than originally intended, and thus the source of much confusion (Latin: nomen ambiguum). A nom. ambig. is a rejected name. Example: Trifolium agrarium L., nom. ambig. The name Trifolium agrarium was misapplied to three taxa, so the name has been rejected in favour of the names Trifolium aureum Pollich, T. dubium Sibth., and T. campestre Schreb., each referring to different taxa.
nom. cons. – A conserved name (Latin: nomen conservandum). A name that is accepted according to the rules of the ICBN, but which would otherwise be considered illegitimate. Example: Callistephus chinensis (L.) Nees, nom. cons. This name is conserved over Callistemma chinensis (L.) Skeels, which is a rejected name (nom. rej.).
nom. dub. – A dubious name (Latin: nomen dubium). A name whose application is uncertain; the confusion being derived from an incomplete or confusing description. Example: Platanus hispanica auct., non Mill. ex Münchh., nom. dub. The application of the name Platanus hispanica is uncertain, so the name has been rejected in favour of Platanus ×acerifolia (Aiton) Willd., pro. sp.
nom. exclusa – An excluded name (Latin: nomen exclusum). Example: Montia rivularis Amer. auct. & C.C. Gmelin p.p., nom. exclusa. The name Montia rivularis Amer. auct. & C.C. Gmel. p.p., is an excluded name that cannot be used.
nom. illeg. – An illegitimate name; a name that is validly published, but which does not follow one or more rules of the ICBN (Latin: nomen illegitimum). Later homonyms, later isonyms, superfluous names, and tautonyms are various types of illegitimate names. Example 1: Trifolium parviflorum Bunge ex Nyman, nom. illeg., non Ehrh. The name Trifolium parviflorum Bunge x Nyman, published in 1878, is illegitimate, since it is a later homonym of Trifolium parviflorum Ehrh., published in 1792. (French: nom illégitime).
nom. illeg. superfl. – A superfluous name; a name for which a validly published name existed previously and should have been adopted, thus the name is deemed nomenclaturally superfluous. Example: Astragalus astragalinus (Hook.) Á. & D. Löve, nom. illeg. superfl. The GRIN database reports that the combination Astragalus astragalinus (Hook.) Á.& D. Löve, is asuperfluous name, based on an incorrect basionym, see R.C. Barneby, Taxon, 25(5-6): 628 (1976). The correct basionym is Phaca astragalina DC., not Astragalus astragalinus (DC.) Hook. This taxon is a synonym of Astragalus alpinus L.
nom. illeg. superfl. – A superfluous name; a name for which a validly published name existed previously and should have been adopted, thus the name is deemed nomenclaturally superfluous. Example: Astragalus astragalinus (Hook.) Á. & D. Löve, nom. illeg. superfl. The GRIN database reports that the combination Astragalus astragalinus (Hook.) Á.& D. Löve, is a superfluous name, based on an incorrect basionym, see R.C. Barneby, Taxon, 25(5-6): 628 (1976). The correct basionym is Phaca astragalina DC., not Astragalus astragalinus (DC.) Hook. This taxon is a synonym of Astragalus alpinus L.
nom. inval. – An invalid name (Latin: nomen invalidum). A name that was not validly published according to the rules of the ICBN, or a name that was not accepted by the author in the original publication, for example, if the name was suggested as a synonym of an accepted name. Example: Linaria vulgaris Hill, nom. inval. Many names published by John Hill between 1753 and 1757 were not accepted as validly published. (French: nom invalide)
nom. nov. – A new name (Latin: nomen nova), formed to replace an earlier name that is either ambiguous or illegitimate. Example: Festuca ovina L. var. brevifolia S.Watson in King, nom. nov. This name replaces Festuca brevifolia R.Br., an illegitimate homonym, as the basionym of all subsequent combinations based on the type of this taxon.
nom. nud. – A naked name (Latin: nomen nudum). A name that is invalid because it was published without a description or reference to a type specimen or validly published description. Example: Viola repens Turcz., nom. nud. is a synonym of Viola epipsila Ledeb. subsp. repens W. Becker. Although Turczaninow's name (1838), Viola repens, predates Becker's name (1917), it was published without a description, so Viola epipsila Ledeb. subsp. repens W. Becker is the accepted basionym.
nom. rej. – A name rejected in favour of a conserved name (nom. cons.), based on the rules of the ICBN (Latin: nomen rejiciendum). Example: Trifolium procumbens L. 1755, non 1753, nom. rej. The name Trifolium procumbens has been rejected in favour of Trifolium campestre Schreb. Before a name is officially rejected, its rejection most be proposed to the committee overseeing rejected and conserved names. Names proposed for rejection are designated by the abbreviation: nom. rej. prop. Example: Cerastium vulgatum sensu L. 1762, non 1755, nom. rej. prop. It has been proposed that this name be rejected in favour of Cerastium fontanum Baumg. subsp. vulgare (Hartm.) Greuter & Burdet.
nom. utique rej. – A name rejected outright, not associated with a conserved name. (Latin: nomen utique rejiciendum). Example: Cerastium vulgatum L. 1755, non 1762, nom. utique rej. For a discussion on why this name was rejected, see Brummitt 2000. Taxon 49 (2): 262.
nomenclatural synonym - Different names for the same species that are based on the same type specimen, but published by different authors at different times. Example: The species Spergula stricta, originally described by Swartz in 1799, was transferred to the genus Minuartia by Hiern in 1899, creating the currently accepted combination Minuartia stricta (Sw.) Hiern. The basionym (Spergula stricta Sw.) and all other combinations, based on the type of the basionym, are considered to be nomenclatureal synonyms of Minuartia stricta, including Alsinella tricta (Sw.) Sw., Alsinanthe stricta (Sw.) Rchb., and Alsine stricta (Sw.) Wahlenb. See also synonym and taxonomic synonym.
nomenclature – The method of naming organisms; nomenclature is part of the discipline of taxonomy.
non – The Latin word for "not." Example: Ledum groenlandicum Oeder 1771, non Retz. 1779.
non, nec. – The Latin term for "not, nor." Following the earliest name in a list, the word "non" precedes a later homonym or isonym, while "nec" precedes any additional homonyms or isonyms. To distinguish more easily between homonyms and isonyms in this checklist, isonyms carry the date of publication so that priority can be determined, while the publication date of homonyms is not included. Example: Elaeagnus edulis Carrière 1869, non Siebold ex E. May 1876, nec Lavallée 1884. The species name Elaeagnus edulis was described irst by Carrière in 1869, later isonyms by E. May in 1876 and by Lavallée in 1884 are not legitimate. In some European databases, later publications of the same name combination are denoted by the abbreviation "ead. comb." (Latin: eadem combinatio).
nothomorph – A taxonomic term denoting a hybrid between different subspecies or varieties of a taxon. See nm., the abbreviation for nothomorph.
nothosubsp. – A nothosubspecies. A hybrid between taxa at the subspecies level. Example: Mentha ×piperita L. nothosubsp. piperita (M. aquatica × M. spicata subsp. spicata) and Mentha ×piperita nothosubsp. pyramidalis (M. aquatica × M. spicata subsp. tomentosa).
nothotaxon– A hybrid taxon (plural: nothotaxa). The principal ranks of nothotaxa are nothogenus and nothospecies (ICBN Article 3.2.). These are the same ranks as genus and species, only the term denotes the hybrid character of the ranks.
NYMF-BBG - New York Metropolitan Flora database, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
p.p. – The abbreviation for "in part" (Latin: pro parte). This abbreviation is placed after the name of a synonym to indicate that some, but not all, individuals identified as this species are synonymous with the accepted species. Example: Galium brandegeei A.Gray p.p. Some of the plants identified as Galium brandegeei actually belong to the taxon Galium trifidum L. subsp. subbiflorum (Wiegand) Puff, while the remaining portion of the plants belong to Galium trifidum L. subsp. trifidum.
pro hyb. – A name originally published as a hybrid (Latin: pro hybrida), but later determined to be a distinct species. Example: Capsella ×gracilis Gren., pro. hyb. The name Capsella gracilis was originally proposed as a hybrid species, but this name is now recognized as synonym of Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik.
pro nm. – A name originally published as a nothomorph (Greek: pro nothomorphos). Example: Carex ×saxenii Raymond var. dumanii (Lepage) B. Boivin, pro nm.
pro sp. – A name originally described as a distinct species (Latin: pro specie), but now considered to be a hybrid. Example: Circaea ×intermedia Ehrh., pro. sp. was originally described as a distinct species, Circaea intermedia, by Jakob Ehrhart, but it is now known to be a hybrid between Circaea alpina L. and Circaea lutetiana L.
pro syn. – An invalid name originally proposed as a synonym of an accepted name (Latin: pro synonyma). Example: Udora verticillata (L.f.) Spreng. var. minor Engelm. ex Casp., nom. illeg., pro. syn. This name, a synonym for the taxon now known as Elodea nuttallii (Planch.) H. St.John, was originally proposed as a synonym, and as such it is an illegitimate name.
proles – A taxonomic rank formerly applied to cultivated plants and considered to be an equivalent to the rank of cultivar. This rank appears frequently in the Index Synonymique de la Flore de France, but is seldom used in North America. Example: Draba incana L. proles pyrenaca O.E. Schulz is the basionym of Draba incana L. subsp. pyrenaea (O.E. Schulz) O. Bolòs & Vigo.
s.l. – In the broad sense (Latin: sensu lato).
s.str. – In the strict sense (Latin: sensu stricto).
sensu – Means "in the sense of," referring to an erroneous identification made according to another author's concept or sense of the species rather than the original author's intention. Example: Circaea canadensis sensu Fernald non (L.) Hill is listed in synonymy under Circaea ×intermedia Ehrh. Fernald's identification of Circaea canadensis actually turned out to be a Circaea ×intermedia Ehrh., a hybrid between Circaea alpina and Circaea lutetiana. The true Circaea canadensis, as described by Hill, is a synonym of Circaea lutetiana L. subsp. canadensis (L.) Asch. & Magnus.
sp. – The abbreviation for a single species. The abbreviation "sp." is used in combination with a genus name when referring to a plant whose specific identity has not yet been determined. Example: Carex sp. If a plant specimen is immature, it is sometimes impossible to identify it to species with any accuracy. In such cases, the collector may identify the plant simply as Carex sp., meaning an undetermined species of Carex. When written, the genus name is italicized, but the abbreviation "sp." should not be italicized. Note that the word species ends in "-es" in both the singular and plural sense; there is no such rank as "specie."
specific epithet – The second word of a species name. Example: "rubrum" is the specific epithet of the species Acer rubrum.
spp. – The abbreviation for two or more species. The abbreviation "spp." is used in combination with a genus name when referring to a group of plants of a single genus whose specific identity has not been determined. Example: When describing a marsh habitat where a particular plant was found, the collector may mention the surrounding sedges in general by referring to them as Carex spp. When written, the genus name is italicized, but not the abbreviation "spp."
subsp. – The abbreviation for the taxonomic rank of subspecies, applied to infraspecific taxa (below species level) that show large-scale geographic differences. Example: Rubus idaeus L. subsp. strigosus (Michx.) Focke. Some texts use "ssp." as the abbreviation for subspecies. While either abbreviation is acceptable, we have opted to use the longer "subsp." abbreviation for subspecies in this database to avoid confusion between "ssp." and "spp." (French: sous-espèce)
synonym – Two or more different scientific names that refer to the same taxon. They may be names based on the same type (nomenclatural synonyms), or names based on different types that are judged to be the same taxa (taxonomic synonyms). Synonyms are rejected in favour of the accepted name. Example: The following names are all synonyms of Minuartia stricta (Sw.) Hiern: Alsinella stricta (Sw.) Sw., Arenaria lapponica Spreng., nom. illeg., Arenaria uliginosa Schleich. ex DC. in Lam. & DC., Alsinanthe stricta (Sw.) Rchb., Alsine stricta (Sw.) Wahlenb., Arenaria stricta Michx. var. uliginosa (Schleich. ex Lam. & DC.) B.Boivin, and Spergula stricta Sw. The names Alsinella stricta, Alsinanthe stricata, Alsine stricta, and Spergula stricata are all nomenclatural synonyms, based on the same type, while Arenaria lapponica, Arenaria uliginosa, and Arenaria stricta Michx. var. uliginosa are taxonomic synonyms, based on different types, but considered to be the same species.
tautonym - A species name in which the genus and specific epithet are identical. Tautonyms are illegitimate names according to the rules of the ICBN. Example: Linaria linaria (L.) H. Karst, illeg. tautonym.
taxon (pl. taxa) - A general term referring to a group of like organisms of any taxonomic rank, including genus, species, or subspecies.
taxonomy – The science of describing, naming, classifying, and identifying organisms. Scientists who study plants or other organisms in this manner are called taxonomists. Nomenclature, the method of naming organisms, is part of the discipline of taxonomy. The study of taxonomy is also referred to as systematics. In today's usage, the study of systematics implies emphasis on the evolutionary relationship of organisms to each other, rather than the identification and naming of individual organisms, but commonly the terms are used interchangeably.
taxonomic synonym – Different names for the same species that are based on different type specimens and described by different authors at different times, but which were later determined to be the same species. Example: Arenaria lapponica Spreng. and Arenaria uliginosa Schleich. ex DC. in Lam. & DC. are taxonomic synonyms of Minuartia stricta (Sw.) Hiern. See also synonym and nomenclatural synonym.
type specimen – A plant specimens (herbarium specimen) designated by an author to represent the species that he or she has described. There may be duplicate type specimen designated by an author; these are usually deposited in different herbaria.
valid name - A name that was validly published according to the rules of the ICBN. A validly published name must include a description of the new taxon, or reference to a previous description of the taxon. A validly published name must also be recognized by the author when it is proposed, that is, it cannot be proposed as a synonym of another name. Validly published names may be legitimate or illegitimate.
var. – The abbreviation for the taxonomic rank of variety (Latin: varietas). An infraspecific taxonomic rank below subspecies but above forma. Example: Cakile edentula (Bigelow) Hook. var. lacustris Fernald is an inland variety of Cakile edentula, occuring on freshwater shores, comparied to the maritime Cakile edentula (Bigelow) Hook. var. edentula. (French: variété)
W3-Tropicos – The online, nomenclatural database of the Missouri Botanical Garden's VAST (VAScular Tropicos) nomenclutue and authority files.