I’ve often thought it must be great to be remembered in a scientific binomial (but, as a botanist, it has to be a suitable plant): for most of us that is probably the closest to immortality that we can probably achieve. But I can only imagine what Alfred ‘Ernie’ Schuyler – noted botanist and Emeritus Curator of Botany at the USA’s Academy of Natural Sciences – must have thought when he had a new species of lichen named in his honour by James Lendemer, a doctoral student at The New York Botanical Garden and a Research Associate at the Academy. Joy probably. But that emotion may have been a little short-lived when one discovers that the lichen – Vezdaea schuyleriana – is known only from a single boulder in rural central Pennsylvania, USA (precise location undisclosed to protect it!), and even Ernie had to acknowledge that it’s so rare it may never be seen again! However, Ernie fared a lot better than Johann Siegesbeck, who fell out with Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) when he – allegedly – denounced the latter’s then newfangled sexual system of angiosperm classification as ‘loathsome harlotry’ (http://www.strangescience.net/linn.htm). Linnaeus had his revenge by naming an ‘ugly little weed’ Siegesbeckia orientalis. For some bizarre reason Siegesbeck was not amused. Memo to self: never – ever, ever! – annoy a taxonomist!
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