ID: Prejith006. Unidentified plant from Western Ghats: ………………………………………….


A humble suggestion from my side..
Whenever we make a comment on the identity of a plant, I request to you to check the characters of the plants with the protologue. I have seen many floras give wrong identifications and misleading descriptions. Can you imagine a a wrong identification even in a monograph?? Myself has encountered such a situation recently in an
Arisaema revision. Such mistakes can carry forward easily. Almost all the Kerala floras have followed this wrong ID in their treatment of the genus. I agree many times we may not able to check the protologues
but we can select most reliable works.
I would suggest you people to refer monographs or family revisions rather than district floras for the confirmation of the ID. Since the mistakes are even found in such monographs and revisions, it would be
much better if it is the original description or type illustration of the plant. I think accessing a protologue is not a himalayan in this era


I agree with you that the identification would perfect when we do it based on protologue and monographs.
By the way, It was my mistake that I ided the plant in this thread wrongly and it was not the mistake in any flora. I realized the same when Prabhu pointed out.
I apologized for the same.
I do not think we have monographs for even 10% of genera in India.
And I do not think that we can always go and check the protologues and monographs especially when we get photographs to id.
If at all it is necessary, the person who upload has to check and get back because he handled the specimen. It is been happening here.
Many of the members are cross checking the id based on expert suggestions. It is a collective effort that we are handling. 
Further, district flora will give us a clearer picture (provided that the id and the information are correct) about the plants in that region. That mostly reduces the burden of going through long keys (at least for new comers) wherein the key would be for a broader region (eg. Gamble, Presidency of Madrass, covers almost the whole peninsular India and some of the keys are too complicated to handle, especially for a layman or a newcomer).
I suggest experts to write the concerned author and the publisher, of whatever publication, pointing out the mistakes. I hope you have done the same for what you found with Arisaema.
I use to do so.


I also generally start with regional flora and then verify it with other resources. That helps in fixing it properly.

Perhaps many people think it obsolete, but Flora of British India has great value. It is this Flora which has initiated the description of numerous new species from India or redefining its status.
I don’t know if all members know the two paragraph significance of FBI. The upper paragraph starts with accepted name and its full reference and diagnosis taken from original description, followed by synonyms.
The second paragraph is wholly Indian. It starts with distribution and then description based entirely on Indian specimens and special comments which helps to assess the level of affinities with first paragraph. It is these comments which helped segregating Indian Sambucus as S. wightiana distinct from S. ebulus and Hedera nepalensis as distinct from H. helix, and many more independent taxa. Even while merging Indian taxa with European ones, FBI gave minor or significant differences in second paragraph, helping greatly the subsequent Indian workers.


I know the limitations of our members (including me) identifying the plants from few photographs..
In fact myself also start with some regional floras or district floras when I get plant. I use to check the descriptions of the floras and the original description if it is available with me. i know we may not be able to check the protologue all the time. But If we had checked the character set of the plants from the images available to us,with the protologues, we can reduce the percentage of errors in eflora india.


Here, in this forum we all have limitations. Mistakes and corrections are part and parcel as we are guessing from images, especially people are reluctant to give or explain the characters of the plant/s. And I personally don’t claim that my guess or suggestions are 100% perfect.
I would be happy when the uploader get back to say that “Yes, I cross checked and found your suggestion matches with the description”.


Everybody knows about the limitations of identifying a plant.
So many members of the group eager to see the plants posted itself shows the interest of the members. If you people were not willing to share your knowledge many members like me would have kept on believing our old knowledge acquired from very few people with whom we have seen the plants in the field.
These healthy discussions is a mandatory part of the group.


My guide use to tell the necessity of the protologues to reach conclusions in the circumscription of a species. And i always try to do the same when I get a plant, atleast for genus Arisaema. We knew that during the preparation of a flora, one have to process thousands of plants, and has to make lot of data sheets of each plant he/she come across. I am not sure how sincerely one can finish all these things in a stipulated time. Unfortunately I myself have seen few workers who just “cut & copy” some preceding floras available, even “Flora of British India & Flora of Presidency of Madras”. It does not mean that “all” the floras are made like that.


Can you describe in short what is meant by Protologue in botanical terms?(and may be other related terms)


let me try to answer your query.

In simple terms, Protologue is the original description of a plant published for the first time. It may be a book or a paper in a journal. The (herbarium) specimen of the newly described plant is the ‘Type specimen’, with which the botanical name is permanently attached.

It is customary to refer and quote the protologue and Type, when we write a taxonomic article, espl. to be sure that we work on the correct plant and correct name. This is what being stressed by … here.

I know, many botanists in the group spend time to refer digital protologues and scanned herbarium images from various sources, to identify some of the not-so-common plants that are posted here. This may not be necessary for all plants, but it is essential to sort out doubtful id. Thanks to the IT, we are now able to at least see these treasures digitally, because, Type specimens of many of the Indian plants are not available in India, and we can not travel to herbaria for every plant. 

… has posted protologues and Types of several orchids in this forum.


Apologies for entering the thread late but can someone tell us amateurs the popular websites where these Protologue’s can be accessed, especially for our plants?


There are few websites, or online libraries for archives of old journals and books (for Protologue’s) might be you aware with this. Even you can search plant name from Tropicos http://www.tropicos.org/ they will provide all the details of taxa furthermore you can access the original protologue from this site.
Following are few libraries…

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