Regarded as one of the world's leading taxonomists,
he is the primary author of the GRIN Taxonomy Database.

 
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Dr. John Wiersema on the Taxonomy and Nomenclature of
Australian Nymphaea nouchali

Regarding N. nouchali in Australia, I have seen this species there, collected it, and had it in cultivation for several years, although I never know from one year to the next whether or not it will come back from my induced winter dormancy. We don't yet know enough about the variation of this taxon, which could range from East Africa and Madagascar through tropical Asia to North Australia, because a modern study of it over its entire range has never been attempted.

There are some nomenclatural problems which must be considered when discussing this species, however. The type of the species would be from India, and there it is the species that formerly went under the name N. stellata (in Conard's monograph, for example), although the name was erroneously used also in place of N. pubescens in some references. Jacobs and Porter have used the name in the correct sense, assuming it to be conspecific with the tropical Asian material, in their 2007 Flora of Australia treatment, but they have mistakenly indicated it to be in subgenus Lotos. It is, however, the only native member of subgenus Brachyceras in Australia.

What has really confused the situation is Verdcourt's usage of N. nouchali, in his 1989 Flora of Tropical East Africa account, for a broadly defined taxon that includes several varieties otherwise treated at species rank, including N. caerulea, N. capensis, and N. petersiana. Verdcourt did not treat the typical variety (var. nouchali, the Indian plant) of his N. nouchali, and whether or not there is anything in East Africa that belongs in the same species as the Australasian N. nouchali remains to be determined. Verdcourt's taxonomy is currently followed in some parts of Africa, so usage of the name N. nouchali there could represent any of these other "varieties", which are certainly not the same as the tropical Asian (and Australian?) plant.

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