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A new name for a common Australian palm

Livistona leichhardtii (previously L. lorophylla). Photo: PACSOA Palms

Sometimes taxonomists need to change the name of a species for historical rather than taxonomic reasons.

In a paper published today in Nuytsia, a common and widespread fan palm, Livistona lorophylla has been renamed as L. leichhardtii.

This follows some taxonomic detective work by palm taxonomist John Dowe from the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns, who sorted out a number of species named by the 19th Century botanist Ferdinand von Mueller and discovered that a long-forgotten name is the correct name for this widespread species.

Resolving confusion around names, and finding the correct name for a taxon, is an important part of taxonomy: precise attribution of names is important for accurate scientific communication about biodiversity.

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