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The name Salicornietum perennis (sensu lato) and global nomenclatural issues/El nombre Salicornietum perennis (sensu lato) e implicaciones nomenclaturales generales.


Corrections of syntaxa names by errors occasioned by misidentification of the name-giving taxa, by mutations--sometimes proposed to the Nomenclature Commission, and sometimes directly applied for authors--, by homonymy, and by other reasons cause several changes in the phytosociological nomenclature. These processes are ruled by the ICPN (Weber et al., 2000), although some real cases have a difficult fit under the current articles, raise doubts about the treatment to follow or simply they are not considered.

The history of the name Salicornietum perennis is an example of the several nomenclatural problems in Phytosociology and its resolution, with possible implications in syntaxa names of higher rank. The species of Amaranthaceae (conserved name according to Stevens, 2001 onwards) are very frequent in the supra-littoral vegetation of the European coasts and in saltpans (Anabasis, Arthrocnemum, Halocnemum, Salicornia, Salsola, Sarcocornia, Suaeda, etc.), together with other halophytes able to tolerate high saline concentration and with frequent adaptations to physiological dryness. Linnaeus (1753) proposed the genus Salicornia for succulent, leafless, annual or perennial plants. Afterwards, A.J. Scott (1977) segregates the genus Sarcocornia for sub-shrubby and shrubby vivacious plants of the group. This gave rise to nomenclatural changes and proposals of change to adapt the phytosociological nomenclature of syntaxa with name-giving taxa based in perennial species of Salicornia. The taxonomical status of Salicornia/Sarcocornia has been discussed in recent years, with proposals of segregation into two independent genera or its assimilation. Molecular and taxonomical studies have supported their independence (Kadereit et al.; 2007; Steffen et al., 2010; Guillo, 2013), but the more recent studies with many sampled species and wide distribution have supported their assimilation, because Salicornia is nested within Sarcocornia, which means that Sarcocornia is a paraphyletic taxon (Steffen et al., 2015; Piraiinen et al., 2017). In this paper, we adopted the current decision of considering a single genus Salicornia, supported by those recent studies.

Galan de Mera et al. (2015) pointed out the existence in Cuba of an association named Salicornietum perennis Samek 1973. Based on the taxonomical tendency of considering Salicornia perennis Mill. as Sarcocornia perennis (Mill.) A. J. Scott., they proposed the new name Sarcocornietum perennis, included in the tropical class Batido-Sarcocornietea ambiguae Borhidi 1996, nom. mut. propos. (Galan de Mera et al., 2009). After that change, they argued that the Cuban association name is an earlier homonym of Sarcocornietum perennis described for the Canary Islands (Fernandez & Santos, 1984). Given this homonymy, according to article 31 and 39 of the ICPN (Weber et al., 2000) they proposed a new name for the Canarian association: Zygophyllofontanesii-Sarcocornietumperennis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Galan de Mera, Garcia-Fuentes & Martinez-Quesada 2015, which holotypus is releve 4, Tab. 2, Orzola, Lanzarote (Fernandez & Santos, 1984).


The name Sarcocornietum perennis of the Canarian association is a later homonym of the Cuban name Salicornietum perennis (Art. 32b), because both are based on homotypic synonymous taxa. Therefore the name of the Canarian community must be rejected as a later homonym (ICPN Definition V, Art. 31, 32b), and a new name must be formed (Art. 39).

It is clear that Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 must be rejected as illegitimate (Art. 32b, 31) and must be substituted by the next later name in the same rank that is in accordance with the rules (Art. 39a). As there is not such replacement name, Galan de Mera et al. (2015) based on Art. 44 -even if they no mentioned it--proposed the new name Zygophyllo fontanesii-Sarcocornietum perennis whose nomenclatural type is the same as that of Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984, that is releve 4 in table 2 of the original publication. Since 2002 it is mandatory that the name-giving taxa must be in the type releve (Art. 16), but Zygophyllum fontanesii is not. This implies Zygophyllo fontanesii-Sarcocornietum perennis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Galan, A. Garcia & Martinez-Quesada 2015 is an invalid name according to Art. 5 and Art. 16, and must be rejected.

Accordingly, as no other validly published name is available to replace it, we propose a new name: Halimiono portulacoidis-Salicornietum perennis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Del Arco, Izco & Rodriguez 2017 with the same type as Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 (Holotypus: rel. 4, table 2, Orzola, Lanzarote), and accomplishes with requirements ofArt. 16.

Within that original table, Fernandez and Santos (1984) separated two groups. The first, releves 1-5, contents the association type, but they did not mention any subassociation name, nor reference to the typical subassociation. The second group, releves 6-8, refers to subass. limonietosum canariensis (holotypus: rel. 7). It is evident they consider two subassociations, because the second has a different type that the association type. The first group has a sufficient diagnosis (Art. 7), but they should have provided an epithet: typicum or derived from the driver taxa in the releve type. They did not do it, and the ICPN do not mention a similar case nor indication of automatically consider such subassociation as typical, although it should seem reasonable. Thus, we are face with the paradox of an association without a typical subassociation and a subassociation that is not typical. In any case, for nomenclatural clarity we have considered the epithet typicum for the subassociation defined by releves 1-5 (Fernandez & Santos, 1984, table 2) and typified by rel. 4.

Furthermore, it is not appropriate to change the name of the Cuban association from Salicornietum perennis Samek 1973 to Sarcocornietum perennis Samek 1973 nom. mut. propos. (Galan de Mera et al., 2015). It does not matter if the Cuban association is under the name Salicornietum perennis or Sarcocornietum perennis, both names are earlier homonymous of the name Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984, a name illegitimate but validly published. We have to take into account that Salicornietum perennis Samek 1973 and Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 are derived from a nomenclatural synonym, homotypic taxa (Art. 32b) and this must be considered for all purposes. We have already rejected the later homonym Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 and it will be absurd to reject Sarcocornietum perennis Samek 1973 nom. mut. propos. as it could be interpreted from Art. 45b. For a differentiated treatment, it would be appropriate to distinguish between nomenclatural homonyms based on names with the same nomenclatural type (homotypic) and homonyms based on names with different nomenclatural types (heterotypic; Art. 45).

On the other hand, the species of Salicornia referred by Samek (1973) is Salicornia ambigua Michx. (= Sarcocornia ambigua (Michx.) M.A. Alonso & M.B. Crespo), a species from the Atlantic coasts of USA, Cuba and adjacent islands (Alonso & Crespo, 2008). Based on the ICPN, Art. 43, this fact leads us to the correction of the name Salicornietum perennis Samek 1973 to Salicornietum ambiguae Samek 1973 nom. corr. hoc loco Del Arco, Izco & O. Rodriguez.

Additional comment

Regarding to nomina nova names, as in Zygophyllo fontanesii-Sarcocornietum perennis, we would like to comment respect to the floristic composition of the holotypus that can be of general interest for phytosociological nomenclature purposes. The nomina nova has to have the same type that the replaced names (Art. 39a). The new name must form from the existing taxa in such releve to accomplish with Art. 16. This rule is too strong for some old names and the rules that were mandatory for them when they were published should apply for the replacement names, but the present code does not consider it. Provisions to prevent this collision between Art. 39a and Art. 16 could be developed, over all when it is not possible to create a new name from the existing species in the type.


Halimionoportulacoidis-Salicornietum perennis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Del Arco, Izco & O. Rodriguez nom. nov.

[Replaced name: Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 in Lazaroa 5 (1983): 148, 1984, nom. illeg. (Art. 31); Holotypus: releve 4, Table 2].

[= Zygophyllo fontanesii-Sarcocornietum perennis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Galan, A. Garcia & Martinez-Quesada 2015, nom. invalidum (Art. 16)].

subass. typicum Del Arco, Izco & O. Rodriguez subass. nova

[Holotypus: Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 in Lazaroa 5 (1983): 148, 1984; releve 4, Table 2 (Art. 2b, sufficient original diagnosis; Art. 26)].

subass. limonietosum canariensis (M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984) Del Arco, Izco & O. Rodriguez, comb. nov.

[Basionym: Sarcocornietum perennis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 subass. limonietosum canariensis M. Fernandez & A. Santos 1984 in Lazaroa 5 (1983): 150, 1984; Holotypus: releve 7, Table 2].

[= Zygophyllo fontanesii-Sarcocornietum perennis (Fernandez & Santos) Galan, A. Garcia & Martinez-Quesada 2015 "subass. limonietosum canariensis Fernandez & Santos 1983", nom. invalidum (Art. 3i, Art. 26)].

The nomenclature of the Cuban community involved is as follows:

Salicornietum ambiguae Samek 1973 nom. corr. Del Arco, Izco & O. Rodriguez 2017 (Art. 43, Art. 48)

[Basionym: Salicornietum perennis Samek 1973 in Acad. Ci. Cuba, ser. For. 18: 46, 1973; Lectotypus: Borhidi 1996: 526, releve 6, tab. 108. Note: This is a transcription of releve reference number 97, Table XII, Samek 1973, which constitutes the lectotype (Art. 39a)].

[= Sarcocornietum perennis Samek 1973 nom mut propos. Galan de Mera et al. 2015].

Authors of syntaxon names are according to Izco (2002).


We thanks to Prof. Federico Fernandez-Gonzalez for his valuable comments to the manuscript. Thanks to Dr. Josep Ninot (University of Barcelona), Dr. C. Sanchez Villaverde (La Habana University) and Mrs Carmen Gonzalez Garcia (Jardin Botanico Nacional, Cuba), for bibliographic assistance.


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Marcelino J. del Arco Aguilar (1), Jesus Izco (2) & Octavio Rodriguez Delgado (1)

Received: 3 November 2016 / Accepted: 20 September 2017

(1) Departamento de Botanica, Ecologia y Fisiologia Vegetal, Universidad de La Laguna. E-38200 San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. Email:;

(2) Departamento de Botanica, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. E-15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Email:
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Author:Aguilar, Marcelino J. del Arco; Izco, Jesus; Delgado, Octavio Rodriguez
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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