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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 799: V International Symposium on the Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants

THE CULTIGEN

Authors:   R. Spencer, R. Cross
Keywords:   classification categories, cultivation, nomenclature, wild plants
Abstract:
In the interests of minimizing ambiguity in the nomenclature of “cultivated plants” we propose the adoption of the word cultigen to designate plants whose origin or selection is primarily due to intentional human activity. The word cultigen was coined by F.M. Bailey in 1918 and effectively defined by him in this way in 1924. Use of this term would give greater precision and clarity to the definition of the respective scope, terminology and concepts of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) and the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). In particular it would deal with the confusion within the ICNCP over whether it concerns where plants are growing (in the wild or in cultivation), how they originated (whether they are the result of intentional human activity or not), or whether it simply provides a mechanism for allocating names to those “cultivated” plants requiring special categories outside the Linnaean hierarchy of the ICBN. The word cultigen would also be useful in giving greater precision to non-technical discourse about “wild” and “cultivated” plants and simplify the language and definitions used in the Articles and Recommendations of the ICNCP. This paper discusses the history of the word cultigen and the benefits of its adoption.
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