birding-aus Dead (unfinished) Finish

Subject: birding-aus Dead (unfinished) Finish
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 22:08:18 +1000
This thread becomes more and more an exposition of the problems of
nomenclature and especially the fickleness of vernacular names.   But
scientific names also bring their problems:

F. Manson Bailey F.L.S., Colonial Botanist of Queensland, in Part II of
"The Flora of Queensland" (1900) gave _Albizzia basaltica_ as "Dead
Finish". However, noting that Alexandra Appleman (birding-aus, 01 May '99)
gave Dead Finish as _Archidendropsis basaltica_, I assume some taxonomist
has changed its genus.  (And just in passing, I note that the relatively
modern, 1989, Flora of South-eastern Queensland economises on "z's" with
"Albizia" instead of Bailey's "Albizzia".  I wonder why.)

By 1909 Bailey (with a CMG added to his FLS) was writing the preparatory
notes to his "Comprehensive Catalogue of Queensland Plants, and this
introduction happens to have two B/W photos (whole tree and base of trunk)
of _Eucalyptus stannariensis_ - "Dead Finish", though in the body of the
book, he qualifies the vernacular as "Dead Finish of Stannary Hills".

Bailey enhances the Frontispiece of his Catalogue with a quote from M.T.
Masters, F.R.S. (I know not who he was) :

        "As long as plants are cultivated, and it is necessary to speak of
them and write of them, even so long will some form of classification and
nomenclature be necessary."

And he concludes his notes with some lines from Cowper praising nature
ahead of art, from which I extract:

        "The cheery fragrance of her dewy vales,
         And music of her woods - no works of man
         May rival these ...

Sometimes I regret not having had a classical education.  "Music of her
woods"? - bird song, surely?  (I'm inclined to disagree with Cowper though,
and contend that no music of the woods could come near a Strad. fiddle well
played ... or Diana Doherty's oboe!)

Syd Curtis at Hawthorne, Qld.

H Syd Curtis

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