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Those Long Latin Names

Some of the Longest names in the plant kingdom exist for proteas. Lepidocarpodendron, Hypophyllocarpodendron and Conocarpodendron are examples. Where did these come from? Protea Atlas Logo

The modern genus for Hypophyllocarpodendron (under-leaf-fruit-tree) is obviously Mimetes. The significance of the name is at once apparent: each flowerhead (and thus the fruit) is borne under a leaf which is modified to form a cowl or hood over the flowerhead.

The two species are:
Mi cucullatus (under-leaf-fruit-tree; leaves below three-tipped red, uppermost completely red, hairless); and,
Mi fimbrifolius (under-leaf-fruit-tree; leaf covered in down; three tipped, red; resembling a flower).

You might be interested to know that Mi hirtus, with its tubular flowers and lacking a conspicuous "fruit-under-the-leaf", was considered, with Aulax and Protea, to be a "Lepidocarpodendron".

And finally, the last plate for Conocarpodendron reads: Cone-fruit-tree; leaves rigid, narrow, tip three-toothed, red, flowers golden. It is obviously (leaves secund, stems creeping) what we now call Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron.

So how did this Conocarpodendron end up with the name that was used to describe a Mimetes?
[Remember the fate of Boerhaave's other names:

_ Lepidocarpodendron was assigned to a Protea (although it was first called Leucadendron: see PAN 15:13).
Conocarpodendron was assigned to a Leucospermum (although Linnaeus used first Leucadendron then Protea - PAN 15:13), Leucadendron would have been more appropriate!
Both these names however, went to species within the "genera" recognized by Boerhaave].

The answer must simply be that Linnaeus was careless. Looking for names for all the then known plant species could not have been easy! Linneaus decided that cucullatum was an acceptible name for both Boerhaave's illustrations of Hypophyllocarpodendron (! - imo Protea ipso magnis variabili etc.?), and thus decided to use the name for a member of Boerhaave's Conocarpodendron. Just how the name was meant to apply to the Leucospermum in question is anybody's guess. Could the flowers be borne under the leaves on the ground? John Rourke suggests that Boerhaave's plate was the only flowering "material" that Linnaeus saw! Do you have any ideas?

A last parting shot at Boerhaave: Which species in all the plates illustrated (24 in all) have unsatisfactory identifications? Please write and phone in your answers - we will include the best in the next issue.

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