Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Taxon of the Day: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pseudotsuga menziesii 
Today’s entry for Taxon of the Day has again been chosen for its prominence on the i4Life homepage. The Catalogue of Life is built on the collective knowledge of taxonomic specialists worldwide. There are still taxon gaps that need to be filled because either there are not the specialists in those areas to fill them, or the specialists that there are, are not creating electronic checklists. However, this is not the case for the group from which today’s entry belongs.

Psuedotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, is a well known conifer commonly known as Douglas-fir in the UK and US. However, in China you would call it ‘hua qui song’, in Spain ‘pino real colorado’ and elsewhere many other things: The Species Details page of the Catalogue of Life lists 23 different common names. 

Three-pronged bracts
Whatever you choose to call it, it is hard to get confused with any other tree because the cones are full of three-pronged bracts that unmistakably resemble a mouse’s back legs and tail. It is not quite as straight forward in the taxonomic world however – treated as two varieties (coastal and inland) by the Conifer Database that supplies the Catalogue of Life other taxonomists have been known to view it as two sub-species and also previously, separate species. Thanks to the Conifer database and the work of taxonomist Aljos Farjong, the Catalogue of life contains a taxonomic record of all 614 known conifer species including common names, making it a very useful resource for evergreen tree enthusiasts everywhere. 

CoL Annual Checklist Page: Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.)
CoL Contributor: Conifer Database
Image copyright: R L F Matthias (main) MPF (cone) 

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