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Taxonomy Updates for 2024

By Matt Bright

We try our best to keep as up-to-date as possible when it comes to taxonomic changes to our native plants at our Wild Plant Nursery. To that end, we follow the nomenclature that the Flora of Virginia (updated via the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora) uses for our species. These sorts of things are, however, in flux and sometimes shift around a few times. Where we made changes that might be new to folks, we added the previous name (denoted by syn.) in the notes section of our plant list. We try to do our updates annually. In order to generate less waste, signage and labels at the nursery may still have the previous nomenclature.

Please note that the changes to our list don’t indicate a change in the plants we’re growing – “a rose by any other name…” and so forth! This is simply an effort to keep the scientific names of our plants up to date with the current nomenclature that botanists use. We have, and continue to, grow just the local ecotypes that we find locally so you can rest assured that what we offer is appropriate for local use in restoration.

A note on subspecies and varieties: We generally don’t break down our list by infraspecific taxon though we do make notes where we see multiple varieties or subspecies when collecting. The microlotting of species is currently not logistically feasible at our nursery, but if you’re on the hunt for a specific subspecies or variety let us know. N.B. We don’t grow any cultivars, so we’re just talking about wild-type varieties here.

Not all of the changes here are new, but I figured I’d include some notes on some taxonomic treatments that are relevant to what we grow for those who are interested.

Without further ado, here are the changes along with any notes I had about them!

Wild Comfrey (Andersonglossum virginianum) (syn. Cynoglossum virginianum)

This change was made a few years ago, but pointing it out here

Dwarf Hackberry (Celtis pumila) (syn. Celtis tenuifolia)

Celtis spp. are a pain to identify so I sympathize with the botanists who have to do this work to figure this out. We’ll also double check our collections to ensure we may not be lumping Celtis laevigata in with either succession, but USDA Forest Service papers suggest there may be hybridization among Celtis spp. too which adds to the confusion. At any rate, what we have reflects wild populations.

Redtop Panic Grass (Coleataenia pulchra) (syn. C. stipitata, syn. C. rigidula)

When we first started growing this plant it was Coleataenia rigidula with several varieties being recognized. Then it moved to C. stipitata. Now we list it as C. pulchra. Still a great grass for sunny wet spots.

Silky Dogwood (Swida amomum) (syn. Cornus amomum)

This was the impetus for writing this update for folks since I know lots of people would be confused seeing our familiar genus Cornus broken up (see below for more!). The other shrubby dogwood species are here in the genus Swida.

Flowering Dogwood (Benthamidia florida) (syn. Cornus florida)

I’ve been dragging my feet renaming this one – I just liked the old name. The Digital Atlas notes that the change in breaking the genus Cornus apart is based on a divergence between the various (formerly Cornus) species that’s millions of years old.

Hairy Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia lanceolata) previously Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

In this case, the previous taxon still exists, but the two different varieties have been elevated to their own species. The variety that we grew is now described as Euthamia lanceolata so we update our naming to reflect that. Note that the plants we grew before as Euthamia graminifolia would be considered E. lanceolata – we aren’t growing different things, just updating names.

Low St. Andrew’s Cross (Hypericum stragulum) previously St. Andrew’s Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)

These two were previously lumped together, but are now differentiated as their own species. We may have some of the former, but in general the majority of what we have grown are H. stragulum.

Virginia Sida (Ripariosida hermaphrodita) (syn. Sida hermaphrodita)

This is more academic. We only grow this rare plant at request of agencies looking to restore it to protected habitats, but since we’re growing more of it now and the nomenclature has changed, I figured I’d include it.

Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida)

This hasn’t changed, but I think it requires a note since I believe we see at least two varieties locally, but the Flora of Virginia hasn’t yet mapped the extent of the various varieties across the state. We believe this accounts for some of the diversity in leaf shape we see locally.

Toothed White-top Aster (Sericocarpus asteroides)

This remains the same, but more western populations of this are now treated in Sericocarpus caespitosus. According to the Digital Atlas, S. caespitosus has not been found in Fairfax, but has been found in neighboring counties. We’ll keep an eye out to ensure we’re using the correct taxonomy, but it may be difficult because the separation has to do with rhizome growth and it’s not our practice to dig up wild populations. Again, what we grow is contiguous with local populations.

Rosin Weed (Silphium asteriscus)

The Flora of Virginia recognizes three varieties and based off of what we see in the field we believe we have more than one in our collection, or that there is significant diversity in traits in the populations we see. Pictured above.

Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)

Another rare plant we are growing specifically for reintroduction to protected lands at the request of local ecologists and park managers. We continue to treat this with the above name, per Flora of Virginia, rather than Oligoneuron rigidum that might be in use elsewhere.

Fringed Loosestrife (Steironema ciliatum) (syn. Lysismachia ciliata)

All of our locally native loosestrife species are now in the genus Steironema. Pictured below.

Thanks everyone for bearing with us! We’ll be using the updated names on our receipts even if the labels are still previous names, so we’ll post this info on our website and refer to it in case there’s confusion.

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24 พ.ค.


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Banner: Late October in a mixed stand of hickories, oaks, and American beech at Fountainhead Regional Park, on the northern shore of the Occoquan River, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo by Chris Bright. 

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