Submitted to: Taxon
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2007
Publication Date: 6/20/2007
Citation: Kirkbride, J.H.Jr., Wiersema, J.H. 2007. Proposal to reject the name Arundo vallatoria (Poaceae). Taxon. 56(1):258.
Interpretive Summary: The Karka reed is a widespread, Old World grass whose distribution stretches from Africa to Asia and Australia. With stems 2-10 meters tall and flowering heads 30-50 centimeters long, this common plant is found in wet areas and along flowing water in large stands without any other plants. Where found, it has many uses by native peoples as a medicinal plant, for fibre production, as a forage crop, for ground cover, etc., and has many common names. Because of its large stature and long flowering heads, it is also cultivated as an ornamental grass. Unfortunately in many areas where it has been introduced, it has become naturalized as an invasive plant and noxious weed. It is especially destructive because it invades wetlands, spreads very rapidly, and out-competes the native vegetation. A few years ago, it was demonstrated that the scientific name for this species, Phragmites karka, that has been used for almost 250 years, must be replaced by an older scientific name, Phragmites vallatoria. This proposal to reject Phragmites vallatoria will allow the continued use of the well-known scientific name Phragmites karka for the Karka reed, which will of intenst to scientists and weed control specialists.
Technical Abstract: Phragmites karka (Retz.) Trin. ex Steud, the Karka reed, is a widely distributed, Old World, wetland grass that stretches from tropical Africa, across temperate and tropical Asia, to Malaysia and Australia. It has numerous ethnobotanical uses and common names, but it is also a noxious weed in wetland environments. Steudel established this scientific name in his Nomenclator Botanicus based on the name Arundo karka Retz., published in Retzius’ Observationes Botanicae of 1786. It has been demonstrated that Phragmites vallatoria (Pluk. ex L.) Veldkamp, based on Arundo vallatoria Pluk. ex L., published in the Linnaean thesis Herbarium Amboinense of 1754, is the nomenclaturally correct scientific name for the Karka reed because the species epithet vallatoria was published first. It is proposed to reject the scientific name Arundo vallatoria, so that we can continue to use the name the name Phragmites karka for the well-known, widespread Karka reed.