7 responses to “Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii”

  1. Matt

    Having photographed and studied mushrooms these past few years, I have become very familiar with the notion of species complexes. In fact, narrowing down a specimen to a certain species complex is often about the best field ID I can do (sometimes I’m just happy if I can just get the genus!). In the case of the snake-bark maples, and indeed with all “species complexes” I am content with a rough identification and letting the splitters and lumpers duke it out for naming supremacy. A name is just a name, and I can still appreciate the beauty of a tree or a mushroom, whatever it is called.

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks Matt. I agree re: appreciation.

    I absolutely need to add that the scenario above regarding ongoing speciation in the Acer pectinatum species complex is by no means a good analogy for the mechanism of speciation in all organisms.

  3. Anthony

    The same consideration applies to cactuses in particular, but also in other fields such as ornithology. My way of looking at it is that all living things including ourselves are part of a continuum, like a light spectrum, and that the “piece of gum” has never completely broken.

  4. Beverley

    Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii – Z6 – RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
    Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii – Z6-7 – A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

  5. Douglas Justice

    This is actually closer to Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii (Pax) E. Murray (or simply A. maximowiczii, as it appears in the Flora of China). The two species (or subspecies) are closely related, but can evidently be distinguished on a number of more or less obvious characteristics.

    Acer pectinatum subsp. maximowiczii has glabrous petioles (vs. pubescent in subspecies laxiflorum) and more prominent basal lobes, for example.

    I was first alerted to the true identity of this plant when it flowered some years ago (I’m afraid I didn’t notice this post or the error in the database until quite recently). This plant’s inflorescences are definitely upright (i.e., standing stiffly above the foliage), whereas those of subsp. laxiflorum tend to hang down (hence the name). Two of the authors of the Flora of China Acer account (Piet de Jong and Chen Yousheng) were at the garden recently and they agreed that this plant (SICH 200) is closer to A. maximowiczii than to anything else. However, they both said that it was not exactly typical for the species.

    Of course, this is not the first wild-collected maple at UBC that doesn’t conform to an existing species description. But it is incredibly frustrating for those of us who have to decide on what name to put on a label. On the other hand, it probably represents introgression between these two species, and there’s some comfort in knowing that whatever it’s called, this particular tree is a biological reality and ultimately, its presence in the collection is adding to our understanding of variation in wild plants. I just wish there was a way to put a name on it that was digestible to people.

  6. Ron B

    How about “affinity A. maximowiczii” or similar self-explanatory phrase of your choice?

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