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Plant Focus

A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

Improving the Oak Names Database

Yesterday, 30th of November, a first workshop was held to discuss requirements for improving our oak names checklist.  A group of five, Koen Camelbeke, Jan De Langhe, Eike Jablonski, Patrick Vereecke, and myself met at the Arboretum Wespelaar Foundation to review the site and discuss needed improvements.

From left to right, Jan De Langhe, Koen Camelbeke, Patrick Vereecke, Eike Jablonski, Charles Snyers


Our checklist is an online checklist found at www.oaknames.org. This checklist was initially developed and maintained by Piers Trehane in the name of the IOS.  Piers died in 2011. Ryan Russell is now in charge of the database with the assistance of other members of the board and committees.

While one of the primary goals of the project is to make the management of this on line resource a collaborative effort, allowing several people to work on the database concurrently, and so improving the quality of our data, it is also our intention to increase the number of illustrations in the database.  Users of the database may have seen scanned herbarium sheets available for some records, as well as the remarkable digital herbarium sheets from the collection of Jan De Langhe.  It was also noted that this checklist is the foundation of our role of Registrar for cultivars of the genus Quercus and that herbarium sheets do not always illustrate distinctive characters of cultivars. 

One example of this is Quercus robur 'Jan Zamoyski' Jablonski.  The two pictures here after show the herbarium sheet and a picture of "fresh" leaves.  One can see the reason for naming the cultivar only on the picture on the right.



The same is true for another distinctive character: habit.  The picture of  Quercus macrocarpa 'Big John' Jablonski hereafter will readily illustrate why this tree was selected.  An herbarium sheet won't. 



The result of the meeting was documented.  And the document is being circulated to other members of the IOS board and the Taxonomy Committee.  Any comments or suggestions about www.oaknames.org are welcome.


Photo Credits: Liesbeth Labarque, Eike Jablonski, Guy Sternberg

Herbarium Sheets: Matt Pringle of Sir Harold Hillier Gardens