Notes on the Latin names of some gayfeathers and the further New World significance of Thomas Martyn’s edition (1795–1807) of Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary


  • David J. Mabberley University of Oxford
  • Jacek Wajer Natural History Museum



Croton, Ctenodon, Lagerstroemia, Liatris, Meniscium, Piptadenia, Philip Miller, Thomas Martyn, Plants of the coast of Coromandel (Roxburgh)


The nomenclatural significance of Thomas Martyn’s monumental revision (and expansion) of Philip Miller’s Gardeners dictionary, namely Martyn’s puzzlingly neglected The gardener’s and botanist’s dictionary ([1795–]1807), is assessed with particular reference to New World botany. The publication dates of its constituent parts are discussed; a key resource is internal evidence, citation of recently published works, notably Roxburgh’s Plants of the coast of Coromandel, publication dates of which are also made more precise through examination of Royal Society of London records. Besides making more secure currently accepted names in Lagerstroemia (Lythraceae), Liatris (Compositae) and Meniscium (Thelypteridaceae), a number of other additions and corrections to current databases are identified, those affecting currently accepted names being disposed of here. This results merely in a new combination in Ctenodon (Leguminosae) being proposed, though Croton cochinchinensis Martyn may well be an earlier name for C. cascarilloides Raeusch. (Euphorbiaceae), while Mimosa carthagenensis Martyn (Leguminosae) is lectotypified such that it conclusively falls into the synonymy of Piptadenia retusa (Jacq.) P.J. Ribeiro & al. (Leguminosae).


EWAN, J. 1970. Plant collectors in America: Backgrounds for Linnaeus. Pp. 19–54 in: Smit, P. & Laage, R.J.Ch.V. ter (eds.), Essays in biohistory [Regnum Veg. 71]. International Association for Plant Taxonomy, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

GAISER, L.O. 1946. The genus Liatris. Rhodora 48:165–183, 216–263, 273–326, 331–382, 393–412.

GORHAM, G.C. 1830. Memoirs of John Martyn, F.R.S, and of Thomas Martyn B.D., F.R.S., F.L.S., professors of botany in the University of Cambridge. Hatchard, London, UK, etc.

HENREY, B. 1975. British botanical and horticultural literature before 1800, 3 vols. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

IRWIN, H.S. & R.C. BARNEBY. 1982. The American Cassiinae. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 35:1–918.

KONIG, C. & J. SIMS. 1804. Retrospect of botanical literature from 1801 to 1803. Ann. Bot. 1:55, 58.

MABBERLEY, D.J. 1991. The problem of 'older' names. Chapter 14 (pp. 123–134) in D.L. Hawksworth, ed. Improving the stability of names: needs and options [Regnum Veg. 123]. Koeltz, Königstein, Germany.

MABBERLEY, D.J. 2017a. A note on the tonka bean and William Forsyth junior's 'A botanical nomenclator' (1794). Blumea 62:87–89.

MABBERLEY, D.J. 2017b. Mabberley’s plant-book. Ed. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

MABBERLEY, D.J. 2020. Friedrich Dietrich v. Kurt Sprengel and their, largely, American plant-names. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 14:241–253.

MABBERLEY D.J. 2022. The Peter Crossing Collection: an illustrated catalogue. Peter Crossing Collection, Sydney, Australia.

MABBERLEY D.J. & V. MALÉCOT. 2023. Hippolyte Arnaud’s account of Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) in cultivation and the further nomenclatural significance of both Seringe’s and Jacques’ Flore des Jardins. Lejeunia 209:1–31.

MCCLINTOCK, E.M. & P.A. FRYXELL. 1979. The rare third edition (1809) of Philip Miller’s Figures…. Huntia 3:127–148.

MERRILL, E.D. 1949. Adventures in locating validly published but unlisted binomials. Amer. J. Bot. 36:14–19.

MILLER, P. 1736. A catalogue of the plants in the garden of the Right Honble Lord Petre at Thorndon Essex. Unpublished, unpaginated bound facsimile of microfilm, based on the original MS at the Essex Record Office (Acc. A9469, p.p.), Library and Archives, Natural History Museum, London, UK.

NESOM, G.L. & J.M. STUCKY. 2004. Taxonomy of the Liatris pilosa (graminifolia) group (Asteraceae: Eupatorieae). Sida 21:815–826.

RIBEIRO, P.G., D.S. SEIGLER, & J.E. EBINGER. 2020. New combination and new synonymy in Piptadenia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae). Phytologia 102:1–4.

ROYAL GARDENS, KEW. 1899. Catalogue of the library of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Bull. Misc. Inform Kew, Addit. Ser. 3:1–790.

RUDD, V. 1976. Mimosa: Notes and novelties from Colombia. Phytologia 33:233–237.

THORNTON, R.J. 1812. Elements of botany. 2 vols. ‘Printed for the Author, as Prizes in the Royal Botanical Lottery, by J. Whiting, Finsbury Place,’ London.

WALTERS, S.M. 1981. The shaping of Cambridge botany. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.




How to Cite

Mabberley, D. J., & Wajer, J. (2024). Notes on the Latin names of some gayfeathers and the further New World significance of Thomas Martyn’s edition (1795–1807) of Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 18(1), 95–104.