Allium Bibliography Discussion

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To develop the Allium species list, I used a large number of references, as listed in the selected bibliography.  Not all of these important taxonomic treatments agree with each other. Therefore an attempt has been made to quantify the relative authority of the taxonomic treatments and make some kind of subjective decision when conflicts of opinion exist.  In may instances, what it comes down to is my best educated guess.  The important point is I have taken a guess, committing to one school of opinion versus another, rather than sitting on the proverbial fence.  My opinions are merely that; opinions, and they're not cast in stone.  I welcome all comments or further discussion on this issue.


Kollman, Fania, 1984. Allium treatment in Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands, (ed. Davis, P.H.), Vol. 8: 67-212.
This important treatment of Allium in Turkey and the East Agean Islands is exemplary for it's clarity, breadth of discussion, and the "global" context of allium taxonomy, e.g. cognizance of species whose native range extends far beyond the borders of Turkey.  In the preamble to the 119 page treatment, there are some very useful comments regarding difficulties of Allium taxonomy, which are not only true for Turkey but they're also relevant to the genus as a whole:
  1. It is stated that "some widespread European species have closely allied derivatives in Turkey which in many cases have been described as distinct taxa".   Many floras seem to suffer from too focused a viewpoint, naming species within their realm of geographical interest that might not be sufficiently distinct from existing species had a broader viewpoint been adopted.  It is refreshing to see in this treatment that the problem is recognized, and in some cases the placement of a species is obviously tempered by a greater understanding of the taxon over its broader range.

  2. On taxonomic status, it is written that some species "are poorly known and badly represented  in European herbaria".  I found the following example by Fania Kollman to be most illuminating: "Plants pressed with the bulb before flowering may continue to grow in the press and develop abnormally shaped umbels due to etoliation, and have longer than normal pedicels, fewer flowers and atypical perianth colour." Given that a good number of species are defined by a single botanical herbarium specimen, which are sometimes incomplete, and considering the scenario described above, it is no wonder allium taxonomy is a challenge.

  3. Regarding variable species, "considerable differences in altitude result in atypical montane ecotypes which are often hard to place correctly".   Many species of allium have extraordinary altitudinal ranges, growing at very low evelation up to alpine zones, thus affecting the plant's appearance, with lowland specimens looking very different than alpine specimens.  Then, regardless of altitudinal range, alliums have a propensity to vary considerably in height anyway. Allium species sometimes become described based on just one variant, without sufficiently accounting for the scope of variability that may be expected.

  4. Adding to the complexities of taxonomic sleuthing, are problems of insufficient detailing of flower color in herbarium specimens, and "available flower colour notes often conflict". Flower color can change during the stages of anthesis, color often changes upon drying, and alliums are notoriously variable in flower color although the range of color variability is not always noted.  In the example cited in Item #2 above, the flower color in herbarium species may be incorrect and atypical based on the collection of immature specimens and etoliation (stretched out plant growth).

The treatment has detailed drawings of the perianth segments and filaments of many species (a useful aid when trying to key out plants), along with distribution maps and collection information.  The treatment of the Allium flavum complex extends the understanding of that species beyond the typical European context.

141 species described




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This page was last updated on 03/21/01