Submitted to: Taxon
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2007
Publication Date: February 28, 2008
Citation: Ward, D.B., Wiersema, J.H. 2008. (1807) Proposal to reject the name Juglans alba (Carya alba)(Juglandaceae). Taxon. 57(1):308-310.
Interpretive Summary: The mockernut hickory is an important forest tree of eastern North America, as a source of wood, charcoal or fuel for hickory flavoring, and wild hickory nuts. Over the last 60 years this species has come to be known consistently by the scientific name of Carya tomentosa. Prior to that time the older name Carya alba had been sometimes used for the mockernut hickory and sometimes for another hickory species, the shagbark hickory. This confusion eventually led botanists to abandon usage of Carya alba in favor of Carya tomentosa for the mockernut. However, in recent years usage of Carya alba for the mockernut has began again, creating confusion over the proper name for this species. The set of rules that govern the scientific names of plants is known as the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, and although these rules dictate that the oldest name is to be used, they also provide a remedy to remove names, like Carya alba, that create confusion from usage. This proposal will preserve usage of Carya tomentosa by the formal rejection of Carya alba. This research will be used by all scientists and others who need to communicate about the scientific name of the mockernut hickory.
For most of the last 60 years the Linnaean name Juglans alba L. and its homotypic counterpart Carya alba (L.) Nutt. have not been in use, being a continued source of confusion through their former application to at least two distinct species, the mockernut hickory and the shagbark hickory. Both are important timber and nut-bearing trees of eastern North America that have become widely and consistently known under the names Carya tomentosa (Lam.) Nutt. and C. ovata (Mill.) K. Koch, respectively. However, in recent years some authors have revived usage of Carya alba for the mockernut hickory, although the typification and thus the application of this name has yet to be resolved. To avoid the nomenclatural instability that has resulted from this usage, the name Juglans alba is proposed for formal rejection under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, leaving C. tomentosa as the correct name for the mockernut if the proposal is successful.