… self-fulfilling prophecies …

… self-fulfilling prophecies …

When I wrote my article: “The genus Hoya in Polynesia” about a year ago, I typed in the following words.:

“All of these ‘taxa’ are from Samoa alone, and there are probably more to come.”


Well, here they are, all described by the same author, all from Samoa, and all described in 2017 (and the year 2017 is now only 42 days old!!!)

Hoya artwhistlerii Kloppenb.
Hoya corollamarginata Kloppenb.
Hoya corollamarginata ssp. magiagiensis Kloppenb.
Hoya corollamarginata ssp. upoluensis Kloppenb.
Hoya fetuana ssp. sigaeleensis Kloppenb.
Hoya fetuana ssp. tutuilensis Kloppenb.
Hoya lanataiensis Kloppenb.
Hoya luatekensis Kloppenb.
Hoya olosegaensis Kloppenb.
Hoya patameaensis Kloppenb.
Hoya samoaalbiflora Kloppenb.
Hoya samoensis ssp. savai’iensis Kloppenb.
Hoya uafatoensis Kloppenb.
Hoya whistleri ssp. faleuluensis Kloppenb.


Please keep in mind: The abovementioned ‘species’ do not exist, they are willfully misidentified Hoya australis R. Br. ex J. Traill, Hoya betchei (Schltr.) W. A. Whistler, Hoya chlorantha Rech. and so on! The ‘author’ obviously describes the same three or four species again and again, and ends up with a mess of names … I’m still sure that there is much more to come.

Why scientific names?

Why scientific names?

Today I was looking for a certain kind of grass, when I found the website of a nursery, where I could read the following lines.:

„There was a time in the not too distant past, when life was simple and this gorgeous ornamental grass was simply known as Pheasant’s Tail Grass or, for those that had been to college, Stipa arundinacea.
Now, life is that bit more complicated and its new name is Anemanthele lessoniana, which is apparently pronounced ăn-e-man-thee-le less-o-nee-ana – and is so much harder to remember not to mention a bit of a mouthful! “


Well, I don’t know where to start … first, no one needs to go to a college to remember a simple name, may it be Anemanthele lessoniana or Stipa arundinacea or whatsoever.

By the way, it doesn’t actually matter how You pronounce these scientific names …, and, the correct way to use this names actually is Anemanthele lessoniana (Steud.) Veldkamp and Stipa arundinacea (Hook. f.) Benth. – and they always refer to the same, one and only species!

The first is the valid name, the other one is a synonym not used for the plant any longer, yet still valid, but just as a synonym.

That’s all.

Wait, there’s one thing more: scientific names, genus and species names are always written in italics, that’s just an international rule (it doesn’t harm You to do so).


Common names or vernacular names in contrast can be used for whatever You wish, the grass discussed here is commonly known as Gossamer Grass, New Zealand Wind Grass, Pheasant’s Tail Grass, and probably as many other grassy things more.

Gossamer Grass fits very well to this species, as it fits to many other grass species as well, in numerous cases even more then to this species; New Zealand Wind Grass is even more bad, it doesn’t say anything aside from that we talk about a grass that probably comes from New Zealand and that is sweeping in the wind (do You know how many grass species are found in New Zealand – and all of them are sweeping in the wind); Pheasant’s Tail Grass, um, the grass discussed here doesn’t look like the tail of a pheasant at all, so …?

I think it is much easier to keep a single scientific name in mind than the numerous vernacular ones that a single species can have.

Now You see what scientific names are for: they can always be assigned to a certain species (subspecies, variety or forma, if You wish), leaving no doubt which species someone is talking about.

Don’t be afraid, use them!   🙂


After all, my words are not meant to criticize the nursery from whom the abovementioned citation comes!

Aglaia basiphylla A. Gray

Aglaia basiphylla


Fiji: Kadavu, Ovalau, Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu

local names:

cavucavu – Viti Levu / Fiji
dawadawa – Viti Levu / Fiji
kabi ni koro – Viti Levu / Fiji
kaunicina – Viti Levu / Fiji
kau toa – Fiji
kula – Fiji
lagakali – Vanua Levu / Fiji
maladamu – Viti Levu / Fiji
misi – Fiji
tawatawa – Viti Levu / Fiji
tobuce – Viti Levu / Fiji
towiwi – Viti Levu / Fiji
viti naboro – Viti Levu / Fiji
waicavucavu – Viti Levu / Fiji



[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 3. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1985

Ostodes exasperatus Girardi

Large Ostodes Snail (Ostodes exasperatus)

This species was described in 1978.

The species is known from the islands of Savai’i and ‘Upolu, however, these two populations differ from each other in so far that the males from ‘Upolu are larger than the females, while the situation is reversed in Savai’i.

The shells reach a height of about 0,9 to 1,3 cm and a width of up to 1,3 cm. [1][2]



[1] E. L. Girardi: The Samoan land snail genus Ostodes (Mollusca: Prosobranchia: Poteriidae). The Veliger 20(3): 191-246. 1978
[2] Robert H. Cowie: Catalog of the nonmarine snails and slugs of the Samoan Islands. Bishop Museum Bulletin in Zoology 3. 1998

Misumenops rapaensis Berland

Austral Crab Spider (Misumenops rapaensis)

This species is obviously the only native species within the crab spider family, that is known to occur on the Austral Islands, where it is endemic to. As far as it is known, this species occurs on the islands of Rapa, Raivavae, Rurutu and Tubuai, where it can be found at all elevations and in nearly all suitable habitats.

Compared with other species of the family, the Austral Crab Spider isn’t much variable in coloration.

It is quite possible, that the several island populations represent distinct species, furthermore the placement of the species within the genus Misumenops seems to be doubtful.


Photo: Antonio Machado; by courtesy of Antonio Machado

Thyrocopa geminipuncta Walsingham

Twinspotted Thyrocopa Moth (Thyrocopa geminipuncta)

The Twinspotted Thyrocopa Moth obviously occurs on the islands of Maui and Moloka’i.

The species reaches a wingspan of about 2 to 2,2 cm.



[1] Elwood C. Zimmerman: Insects of Hawaii 9; Microlepidoptera Part 2; Gelechioidea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1978
[2] Matthew J. Medeiros: A revision of the endemic Hawaiian genus Thyrocopa (Lepidoptera: Xyloryctidae: Xyloryctinae). Zootaxa 2202: 1-47. 2009

Veronica hookeriana Walp.

Veronica hookeriana


New Zealand: North Island

local names: –


Photo: Shirley Kerr

(under creative commons license (4.0))