A field guide to Kenyan mangroves


Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (L.) Lamk. 1797-8

Family: Rhizophoraceae

Below is an email communication with the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) a service of the U.S Department of Agriculture which provides free access to an online database of taxonomic nomenclature available at:


This mail unofficially describes the problems that have been associated with the name Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, which has been spelled with both two r's and with one r in recent literature. The original mail follows the reply.

Subject: Bruguiera gymnorrhiza

Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 13:45:31 -0400


To: dgilliki@

CC: speterson@, mskinner@


Dear Mr. Gillikin, Thanks for this tip. Checking against the International Plant Names Index, I find three records with one spelling, and two with the other: Bruguiera gymnorhiza (L.) Lam. (APNI) Bruguiera gymnorhiza forma alba (Stone) F.R. Fosberg (IK) Bruguiera gymnorhiza Lam. (IK) Bruguiera gymnorrhiza Lam. (IK) Bruguiera gymnorrhiza var. nana S. Hatusima (IK) The corresponding data they provide are as follows:

http://www.uk.ipni.org:8181/servlet/org.ipni.plantname.servlet.IpniServlet?id=75693-3&query_type=by_id Bruguiera gymnorhiza (L.) Lam. Encyclopédie Méthodique, Botanique 4 (1 Nov. 1798) 696. http://www.uk.ipni.org:8181/servlet/org.ipni.plantname.servlet.IpniServlet?id=889506-1&query_type=by_id Bruguiera gymnorhiza forma alba (Stone) F.R. Fosberg in Smithsonian Contrib. Bot., 45: 15 (1980) B. conjugata f. alba http://www.uk.ipni.org:8181/servlet/org.ipni.plantname.servlet.IpniServlet?id=719531-1&query_type=by_id Bruguiera gymnorhiza Lam. Encycl. iv. 696 (1798). India http://www.uk.ipni.org:8181/servlet/org.ipni.plantname.servlet.IpniServlet?id=719532-1&query_type=by_id Bruguiera gymnorrhiza Lam. Illustr. t. 397 Blume, Mus. Bot. Lugd. Bat. i. 136. Geront. trop http://www.uk.ipni.org:8181/servlet/org.ipni.plantname.servlet.IpniServlet?id=986700-1&query_type=by_id Bruguiera gymnorrhiza var. nana S. Hatusima in S. Hatusima & T. Amano, Fl. Ryukyus, S. of Amami Is., ed. 2:148 (1994), without latin descr.or type- distribution: Locality not stated.

I consulted a couple of botanists here at the Smithsonian, including a nomenclatural specialist, and here is the readers' digest version. The epithet was published by Linnaeus with one r... and revised by Lamarck with one r as well. The International Code for Botanical Nomenclature says that the original spelling is to be used unless it has an error of a type that ought to be corrected. Apparently the greek term from which this epithet is derived has two r's, so there has been a difference of opinion over time and between people about whether this is an error that is to be corrected... so I can't say that this is a cleanly resolved issue. Those who support enforcement of classical usage will side with the double-r correction, and those who do not will side with the original spelling. That said, a number of recent references have used the double-r, such as Wagner, Herbst, and Sohmer's "Manual of Flowering Plants of Hawaii" (1990). The ITIS data is derived from the USDA PLANTS database, which cites this reference and follows it in using the double-r. I will pass on this information (including your note on Tomlinson) to those who are stewards for the ITIS plant data for their consideration, and you may make your own judgement based on the info above. Basically, you should be able to depend on the nomenclatural correctness of ITIS plant names that show "TWG standards met" credibility (or 'verified' if you use ITIS*ca). There are probably errors still to be found (as with any large database), but such issues are identified and resolved with the help of people like you pointing potential problems out, and of course through the ongoing review & update of the data.

I hope this helps,



>>> David Gillikin 08/21/00 06:21PM >>>

Dear Sir, I was using your site because I had a problem with "the" mangrove reference: Tomlinson, 1986. They list Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (L.) Lam. as Bruguiera gymnorhiza (L.) Lam. (one 'r' in gymnorhiza). I have heard conflicting reports about this. I was wondering how strict the control is on your database. Could you tell me that you are sure you database has the correct spelling?

Thank you and best regards,

David Gillikin


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all text and photographs copyright© 2002-2016 David Gillikin and Anouk Verheyden
Created 28 August 2001