An Australian Government Initiative
Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Home > CHAH > Australian Plant Census

Standardised Informal Names (phrasenames)


CHAH's agreed Australian standard

In an endeavour to stem the confusion, CHAH has agreed to the following standard for their publications:

Genus-name sp. Phrasename (Voucher-specimen identifier) Source

The Voucher-specimen identifier is a combination of:

An example is:

Pterostylis sp. Sandheath (D.Murfet 3190) R.J.Bates

The "sp." functions in databases as a delimiter defining a species phrasename. For infraspecific taxa, no "sp." delimiter is needed as the infraspecific rank does this job.


Latinised epithets, even if cited as manuscript names, and phrasenames for unpublished new genera are to be avoided. Latinised epithets can lead to confusion as to whether they are published by the:

Instead of a generic phrasename being coined, an existing allied genus should be used. The aim of a phrasename is to provide a consistent unique interim name for a taxon that does not have an appropriate formal name, not to express relationships to the finest detail.

Transitional approach

In order to avoid additional new phrasenames where informal names have been published previously the following approaches have been adopted in the new South Australian Census (Barker et al. 2005):


Barker, W.R. & R.M. Barker (2005). The Census of South Australian Vascular Plants - a catalogue of changing knowledge. J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. Suppl. 1: 1-17.

Barker, W.R., R.M. Barker, J.P. Jessop & H.P.Vonow (Eds.) (2005). Census of South Australian Vascular Plants. Edition 5.00. J. Adelaide Bot.Gard. Suppl. 1: 19-398.

Entwisle, T.J. & P.H. Weston (2005) Majority rules, when systematists disagree, Australian Systematic Botany 18, 1-6.

Bill Barker
State Herbarium of South Australia
for CHAH


Extracted from: Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 122 (March 2005)