Latin translations of species diagnoses


When naming a new plant species, the publication must include a diagnosis: a description of what distinguishes the new species from other known species. Historically this diagnosis had to be in Latin, so that a botanist could understand it even if they couldn’t read the language the rest of the paper is written in. But since the lingua franca of science has changed to English, at the Melbourne Congress in 2011 it was decided to include the following change in the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants:

39.2. In order to be validly published, a name of a new taxon published on or after 1 January 2012 must be accompanied by a Latin or English description or diagnosis.

I was involved to some degree in the publication of a few sedge and legume species between 2010 and 2012, so we actually needed the diagnoses to be in Latin. The following are what I came up with, with the help of Stearn’s Dictionary of Botanical Latin.

Isolepis namaquana Muasya & J.Viljoen

Similar to I. trachysperma, I. trachysperma affinis
but differs in having sed
1–6 (vs. 1–3) spikelets spiculis 1–6 (vs. 1–3),
4.5–10.0 (vs. 1.4–4.2) mm in length, 4.5–10.0 (vs. 1.4–4.2) mm longis;
with glumes 1.8–3.9 (vs. 1.0–1.9) mm in length; glumis 1.8–3.9 (vs. 1.0–1.9) mm longis;
style always bifid; stylis semper bifidis;
nutlets black and lens-shaped, not brown and globose, nuculis piceis lenticularibus nec brunneis globosis,
colliculate, not tuberculate, colliculatis nec tuberculatis,
0.6–1.0 (vs. 0.4–0.6) mm in width. 0.6–1.0 (vs. 0.4–0.6) mm latis

Ficinia quartzicola Muasya & N.A.Helme

Similar to F. repens, F. repens affinis
but differs in having sed
clumping (vs. lax) habit habitu fasciculato (vs. laxo),
and hard (vs. soft) culm base basi culmi dura (vs. molli),
with no visible rhizome (vs. long rhizome). rhizomate manifesto nullo (vs. rhizomate longo)

Ficinia jardinei Muasya & C.H.Stirt.

Similar to F. nodosa F. nodosa affinis
but differs in having sed
sticky (vs. nonsticky) leaf sheaths vaginis foliorum viscidis (vs. non viscidis),
glumes with serrated (vs. entire) margins. glumis margine serrato (vs. integro)

Psoralea margaretiflora C.H. Stirton & V.R. Clark

Similar to P. oligophylla, P. oligophylla affinis
but differs in sed
its small greenish white flowers floribus parvis viridi-albis,
with trifid purple nectar patch cum macula nectarifera purpurea trifida,
and translucent veins; venis petalorum translucentibus;
5(–7)-pinnate leaflets; foliolis 5(–7)-pinnatis;
multi-branching erect short seasonal flowering shoots; brachyblastis floriferis vernalis brevibus erectis ramosis;
and resprouting habit habitu repullulanti
of many tall stiff bare stems caulibus nudis rigidis elatis multis,
with the seasonal shoots massed at the apex. brachyblastis ad apicem acervulatis

Psoralea karooensis C.H. Stirt., Muasya & Vlok

Similar to P. glaucescens, P. glaucescens affinis
but differs in sed
its drooping habit habitu cernuo
of many stiff bare stems caulibus nudis rigidis multis,
with the vernal shoots arising from the apex in clusters; brachyblastis vernalis ab apice fasciculatis;
1-foliolate leaves; foliis 1-foliolatis;
short, erect, multibranched, vernal flowering shoots; brachyblastis floriferis vernalis ramosis erectis brevibus;
small, greenish-cream flowers floribus viridi-cremeis parvis
with small trifid cupulum cupulo trifido parvo
at the apex of a 10–12-mm-long peduncle apice pedunculi 10–12 mm longi
and standard with a single purple nectar patch and purplish veins. vexilloque macula nectarifera purpurea singula, venis purpurescentibus

Otholobium sabulosum C.H. Stirt. & Muasya

Similar to O. bracteolatii and O. friticans, O. bracteolatii et O. friticans affinis
but differs in sed
its dwarf habit, habitu pumilo;
pale mauve, purple and white flowers, floribus malvinis pallidis et purpureis et albis;
prominent straight mucro, mucrone recto prominenti;
purplish green flower bracts bracteis florum purpureo-viridibus;
carinal calyx teeth. dentibus calycum carinalibus