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Dictionary of Commemorative Plant Generic Names

This projected 27-volume dictionary lists plant genera whose names were given to commemorate persons. It is interesting that authors have honoured not only big names in science, teachers, helpers and explorers but also statesmen, benefactors, friends, administrators and all sundry kinds, including spouses; but they are mostly given after persons who do contribute significantly to foundation, development and promotion of science. The present work is unique, because an ordinary dictionary of names would give just etymology, i.e. the meaning or the basis of that name; while this work very unusually and significantly elaborates on biographical aspects and highlights the work and impact of those persons after which plants were named.

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Reviews:

"Walking down library aisles sometimes yields curious works that bear further scrutiny. Sudhir Chandra's compilation is a definite obsession. By the time "the text was composed for printing in February 1989" (vol. 1, p. 216) Chandra's project was nearly three decades in progress and had dealt with "about 12000 commemorative names [...] typed [on] about 7000 pages" (vol. 1, p. vi). Volume 1 (1992) treats some 400 genera ranging from the orchid Aa H.G. Reichenbach (1854) doubtfully commemorating the Dutchman Mynheer Pieter van der Aa (no dates) to the fungus Azymohansenula Novak & Zsolt (1961) commemorating Danish mycologist Emil Christian Hansen (1842–1909). Even such minimal information might be useful, but Chandra "has tried to collect details about each person under some forty aspects, like date and place of birth, parentage, education, positions held, travels, publications, new taxa discovered, important contacts, including even persons who influenced the life and work" (vol. 1, p. v). Many entries are brief, but some are exceptionally detailed. The grass Arberella Soderstrom & Calderon (1979) commemorating Agnes Arber (1879–1960) gets three columns of packed print (pp. 90–92), whereas the glossopterid fossil (the inflorescence of Gangamopteris) Arberia D. White (1908) commemorating Arber's husband Edward Alexander Newell Arber (1870–1918) gets nearly two and a half columns (pp. 92–93). [The fossil Arberiella D.D. Pant & D.D. Nautiyal (1960) also honors Newell Arber.]

The circa 400 genera in volume 1, A (1992), are unnumbered. Subsequent volumes number the generic entries: volume 2, Ba–Bl (2005), numbers 1–545; volume 3, Bo–Bz (2006), numbers 546– 1009; volume 4, Cabralea to Cleveamorpha (2009), numbers 1–379; volume 5, Clevelandina to Czernya (2009), numbers 380–684. A "projected 20 volumes [are] aimed for completion by 1914–16 [sic]. It is hoped to cover 15,000 to 18,000 commemorative names" (vol. 2, p. xvii, vol. 3, p. xxiii). It is almost sinfully wastef ul to issue compilations such as these in print rather than in digital format (see also my commentary in Taxon 61: 267–268: Are print versions of bibliographies and other reference works threatened dinosaurs in the new digital world?)."

– Rudolf Schmid, University of California, Berkeley, Taxon 62(1), February 2013, 199