Hiya distans, a new name for the fern previously called Hypolepis distans

It turns out that Hypolepis distans is not closely related to the other species of Hypolepis. This blog post sets out the case for instead calling it Hiya distans.


I'd appreciate feedback on whether people think we should adopt this change on iNaturalist. I recommend we do wait until/if it is picked up by the New Zealand Plant Names Database

Posted by leonperrie leonperrie, October 11, 2018 20:28



OK Leon. This is a reply to the question your posed a while ago, rather than a direct answer re. Hiya. For me plant names are a communication tool first, with the embedding of evolutionary relationships a secondary function. I use plant names to communicate with reserve volunteers, landowners, BOTSOC members, and plant professionals. Nowdays I have to do a quick profiling to guess which name will resonate with my listener. I have a choice of the accepted universal Maori name, local iwi name, common name(s), latin binomial, and a growing category - the obsolete common botanical name. That covers Hebe, Nothofagus, Uncinia, Schizeilema, Desmoschoenus, way back to Dacrydium taxifolium. You can hear some amusing but frustrating conversations on BOTSOC trips as we all struggle to remember new names (age of participants a confounding issue here). It also make people feel stupid/superior when they haven't caught up with the new names hidden away in Science Journals ( thank you Leon for your posts about fern family changes, I do miss Peter de Lange's taxonomic updates that he posted on NZPCN in the past). There has been a few wins. Azolla rubra has come around again, creepy Psychrophila was thrown away, along with the horrible Australian orchid names. Stegostyla sounded like a dinosaur rather than a beautiful Caladenia orchid! Changing use of common names creates issues too. Here on kanuka-covered Banks Peninsula the locals advertise for manuka blocks for their beehives. This manuka/kanuka confusion lead to a rare block of kanuka on the Plains being cleared. I do appreciate the exciting new era of systematics that has stimulated the name changes, but the downside is a century of confusing communication. I use common names more often now days.

Posted by alice_shanks about 2 years ago (Flag)

Colleague commented that this name change will lead to a common name - the Gidday fern.

Posted by alice_shanks about 2 years ago (Flag)

Hi @alice_shanks.
Thanks for your comments. I like the "Gidday fern" name.
I share at least some of your frustration with changes to scientific names. I feel pretty strongly that the New Zealand community using taxonomic names is not being well-served by (New Zealand's) taxonomists in this respect. In my opinion there are too many unneccesary taxonomic changes, which have no compelling reason behind them. That's why I wrote the blog about the splitting of Blechnum, and I put Nothofagus in the same category, along with the orchid debacle. NZPCN is particularly quick to adopt name changes, but the NZPND doesn't seem especially choosy either.
I do, however, think that some name changes are necessary (to accurately trace evolutionary relationships). I feel that these might be easier to cope with if we weren't also faced with all the unnecessary changes. That's why I'd really like us (the NZ botanical community) to only change scientific names when the reason was compelling.
I'm not sure what the solution is for us in NZ. I'm busy with exhibition work until the middle of 2019. I'll get back to taxonomy then, and might agitate a bit more among by colleagues (although that is delicate). Alternatively, I think the Australian's seem to have a good system with their Australian Plant Census, which seems to involve a lot more thinking about which names to accept (that might involve a culling of changes that aren't necessary). I wonder if we could learn a lot from their approach.

Posted by leonperrie about 2 years ago (Flag)

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