Pedicularis milosovicii

Pedicularis milosovicci

This Lousewort was discovered by our Caucasus botanical guide Pavel Křivka. It is in fruit here and can grow to 2m tall. Earlier in the year it has yellow flowers and is not dissimilar in appearance to Pedicularis atropurpurea which is purple. It grows in fairly shady woodland and so had probably been overlooked because of this slightly unusual habitat for a Pedicularis species.

If you discover a plant which is new to science as this one was, then you can name it. Many name new plants they have discovered after the places they were found, for example Myosotis x bollandica Bowland Forget-me-not P Jepson 2012. There is only one convention for naming which is usually obeyed: you shouldn't name a plant after yourself.

However there is nothing to stop a botanist using a new plant to make a political statement as long as the naming rules are followed. When I asked Pavel what chose for the plant's name, he told me he had named it after a famous war hero. I imagined Pedicularis nelsonii, Pedicularis churchilli or, since he was educated in eastern Europe under Russian occupation, Pedicularis zhukovii.

But no, to Pavel the serbian leader Slobodan Milosovic was a war hero even though he was eventually charged with war crimes. Perhaps it would be best if the naming rules were more restrictive so that innocent plant species aren't burdened with the political whims of the botanist who discovered them.

Pavel had some difficulty getting the paper published which is not entirely surprising but eventually it appeared in Novon, A Journal for Botanical Nomenclature in 2015

The naming rules appear to have been followed so that will very likely be the botanical name of this plant forevermore.

Woodland near Terbida, Russian Caucasus 27th June 2016

Added on 30th April 2024