Friday, February 15, 2013

Mastigostyla woodii in the iris family named in honor of British botanist John Wood

 Mastigostyla woodii, a Bolivian plant in the iris family (Iridaceae) with blue-purple flowers, was named in honor of the British botanist John R. I. Wood [1-3]. The genus name is based on the greek words mastigos and stylos, meaning “whip” and “style,” respectively. The conservation status and distribution of M. woodii and the three related species M. cardenasii, M. chuquisacensis and M. torotoroensis in the arid mountains and valleys of the eastern Andes in Boliva has recently been described [4].

John Wood, an Honorary Research Associate at Kew, collected plant specimens from around the world, including habitats in Yemen, Bhutan, Columbia and Bolivia. Wood collected more than 30,000 plant specimens over 40 years and encountered various inconveniences during his search for remote places and rare species. He had malaria twice, Dengue fever once, and is today celebrated as an elite field botanists—a discoverer and science-driven gatherer from an era that is drawing to a close [3].

Taxonomy of Mastigostyla woodii Huayalla & Wilkin [1]
Class: Equisetopsida
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Superorder: Lilianae
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Note that the above organization is based on the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) system, while the Cronquist, Takhtajan or Thorne system treat Iridaceae as part of the order Liliales, Iridales or Orchidales, respectively.

Keywords: botany, systematics, nomenclature, plant collecting.

References and more to explore
[1] Kew Royal Botanical Gardens: Mastigostyla woodii [].
[2] Encyclopedia of Life: Mastigostyla woodii [].
[3] John Whitfield: Rare Specimens. Nature April 25,  2012, 484, pp. 436-438 [].
[4] Hibert Huaylla, Paul Wilkin and Odile Weber: Mastigostyla I. M. Johnst. in Bolivia: three new species and new data on M. cardenasii R. C. Foster. Kew Bulletin June 2010, 65 (2), pp. 241-254. doi: 10.1007/s12225-010-9199-y.