Post from Rowland Burdon on May 29, 2014 at 11:42AM
Wink Sutton’s note in your November 2013 issue on common versus botanical names has been brought to my attention. Unfortunately, common names for tree species are often far from standardised, except in closely defined contexts. Actually if we were to adopt his precept of following the American example closely, we would run with Monterey pine (which he has actually mentioned) for radiata. However, even in the US, there can be regional common names for widely distributed species.
Relying on common names can be downright treacherous where they vary regionally. A classic example is reputedly the extensive early planting of the notably useless Eucalyptus ovata in Whaka Forest and doubtless many other places in New Zealand.The story is that the Lands Department thought they were ordering seed of E. regnans, which was called swamp gum in one Australian state, but ordered from another state which used that common name for E. ovata.
One other, small point. For repeated mention, P. radiata is more compact typographically than radiata pine.
Botanical classifications and names can certainly be subject to revision, but that can be covered by widely accessible documents which cross-reference botanical and common names. Such a document has existed and been updated in the NZ Institute of Forestry Forestry Handbook in successive editions since 1977. It could be extended to flag the areas of recent revision and unresolved disputes.
Rowland Burdon, Emeritus Scientist, Genetics, Scion