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On the Identity of Halesia carolina L. (Styracaceae)

James L. Reveal and Margaret J. Seldin
Taxon
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Feb., 1976), pp. 123-140
DOI: 10.2307/1220420
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1220420
Page Count: 18
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On the Identity of Halesia carolina L. (Styracaceae)
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Abstract

When Linnaeus described the Silverbell Tree or Snowdrop Tree, Halesia carolina, in 1759, he based his description upon flowering and fruiting specimens, plus an illustration, sent to him by John Ellis of England. The plant specimens were gathered by Alexander Garden in late June or early July of 1755 near Saluda, South Carolina, and sent to Ellis in March of 1756 shortly after a small shipment of seeds had been sent. The illustration was prepared by George D. Ehret. The exact nature of the specimens and plate has not been carefully investigated until now, and our studies show that this material represents the same entity currently called H. parviflora Michx. and not what is presently termed H. carolina by all modern authors. In 1761, Ellis proposed H. tetraptera based on a description sent to him by Garden of plants growing "along the banks of Santee river." Apparently no specimens were collected of this entity. However, seeds were, and these were soon widely cultivated in Europe and have served as the basis for the understanding of H. carolina. Based on the location data and the description provided by Ellis (citing a letter sent to him by Garden), the name H. tetraptera should apply to what is now called H. carolina by current authors. The original Ehret plate must now serve as the type for H. carolina as the specimens have been lost, and the illustration presented in Ellis' 1761 paper which is a slightly altered, mirror image (and thus a reingraving) of the original Ehret plate, does not represent -- in any manner -- the type of the plant described by Ellis as H. tetraptera, a fact quite unknown to him and others. A neotype is selected for H. tetraptera, and the combination, H. tetraptera var. monticola, proposed.

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