How many names do you have? Three, four, five? Scientists have discovered that not only do tomatoes have 790 names – what name do we give to Israel’s shriveled tomatoes? – but Oak trees and their relatives have 600. In fact, of the nearly one million flowering plants on record, at least 600,000 are duplicates. From an organizational point of view, this is an absolute nightmare. Like the cook who needs order in the kitchen, scientists need their names to be orderly too. A new study conducted in West London (with cooperation from throughout the world) will ensure more accurate access to information about species that are important economic sources as food.Scientists from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew sifted through the Dictionary of Life for 3 years in order to determine that the 600,000 species are duplicates. Their results will not be published until the end of the year, since according to The Telegraph, there are 240,000 species that still need to be assessed.
The scientists received input and assistance from 200 governments.
“Alan Paton, assistant keeper of the herbarium at Kew, said the information will be vital for any organisation or researcher looking at “economically important” plants, such as those for food and nutrition or medicine,” according to the newspaper.
He also told The Telegraph that “On average, one plant might have between two and three names, which doesn’t sound a great deal, but if you’re trying to find information on a plant, you might not find all [of it] because you’re only looking at one name.”
Those plants that are used frequently – because of their economic importance – especially tend to have several different names.
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image via Wombok