The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: Do you want to tell me about a species I missed?


U. cleistogama
"U. cleistogama"

S. drummondii
"S. drummondii"

U. fibrosa
"U. fibrosa"

U. vulgaris americana
"U. vulgaris
subsp. americana"

U. rubra jonesii
"S. rubra
subsp. jonesii"

A: I am fully aware that my lists of plants that follow may not agree with the lists that other carnivorous plant botanists might have. My lists are based upon Schlauer (2002) as a starting point. When I wrote my book (Rice 2006a), I sent each draft chapter to experts on each genus who were kind enough to provide their comments on the species in my genus lists. I weighed their opinions and arguments, and proceeded accordingly. Finally, in a few cases I added my own opinions.

But still, you might wonder why some species are not listed in my pages. Here are the likely reasons. (And by the way, although I keep referring to "species", these arguments hold for other taxonomic ranks such as subspecies, varieties, etc.

  1. Synonomy: The very same plant you are looking for may have been described earlier, with a different name. For this reason, U. cleistogama should be discarded and U. subulata should be used instead. Type your species name into Jan Schlauer's database and see if it comes up as a synonym for something else. But remember, Jan's list is not the final word on what is an "accepted" species. Jan's database is excellent for information about names, but whether something is really a separate species (or subspecies, etc.) is really an opinion that every scientist must make for himself or herself. Of course, if you aren't an expert, following Jan's opinions blindly will serve you pretty well!

  2. Lumping: It might be that I have lumped species together, where you might think they are best treated as separate species. For example, I love Utricularia nova-zelandiae and U. monanthos. It broke my heart when botanists lumped these names together with Utricularia dichotoma. I resisted for a long time, but those more familiar with the plant in the wild than I concluded this was a wise decision, so I finally accepted the loss. Still, I grieve. This is also what happend to the genus Polypompholyx---it has been absorbed into Utricularia.

  3. Splitting: I might see separate species where you do not. I am something of a splitter when it comes to Sarracenia, for example. I see S. jonesii and S. rosea where others may see just S. rubra subsp. jonesii and S. purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii. I think there is probably merit to U. stygia, while others may lump this with U. ochroleuca. What do you think?

  4. Description is absent: There are some populations of plants which very well might be a separate species, but which have not yet been described as such in the literature. Even so, the intended author might leak the species names prior to publication. For example, as I write this, there is a plant name "Nepenthes globosa" floating around on the internet, supposedly for some plants in Thailand. Alas, until this entity is published, I will not include it in my species listings. By the way, leaking a plant name pre-publication is very unwise, as another author who hears of such an impending description might choose to rush to publish the description in another journal, thus "scooping" the first author. The moral: do not sit on your science---publish it in a timely manner.

  5. I judge the science as weak: Some papers, although they follow all the rules of publication, do not provide compelling or convincing results. The paper may present arguments for a proposed plant name, but I might conclude that based upon the description is just a variant population of a species that already has a very good name. This problem may be due to a difference of opinion between me and the authors, or it might be a poorly written paper that does not do the new entity justice in its description. It is also possible that the "new species" is something that I think is quite possibly just an abnormal or damaged individual of a previously-described entity. I have seen Utricularia macrorhiza, for example, take on some very weird forms when growing in alkaline conditions. Such plants might be misinterpreted as new species when the real story is just that they are growing in weird conditions. I am quite possibly wrong in my judgements--I have certainly made mistakes in the past--so maybe in the future I will change my assessment of the paper.

Species names I have not yet evaluated

Species names I know about but have not included

Anything post-2005 that I missed?

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; Schlauer, J. 2002; citations listed above.

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Revised: August 2011
©Barry Rice, 2005