Rubus affinis Weihe & Nees

Recently the name R. vigorosus Wirtg. has been introduced in use for the species that was named R. affinis Weihe & Nees previously. Weber 1986 argued that the name R. affinis would be illegitimate because it to his opinion includes the type of R. fruticosus L. because of the reference to the Flora Suecica of Linnaeus. 

This is, however, not the case. Firstly the Flora Suecica is published before 1753 and thus it is not validly published. It is not a validating description either because Weihe & Nees give their own description. Next to this, a name is only illegitimate if it includes a previously designated type of a name or the type of a previously conserved name (art. 52.2). By the time of publication no type was indicated; so no type is included.

The publication of R. fruticosus L. contains several elements: his own specimens and earlier publications as well. All these elements belong to the protologue and any of the plants whereon the descriptions are based can be selected as a lectotype. Weihe & Nees argue extensively, when dealing with Rubus fruticosus L., that they choose the plant of the Hortus Cliffortianus as R. fruticosus L. and thus must give another name to dissimilar elements such as described in the Flora Suecica. They were free to do so because both are elements of the protologue. It does not matter that Linnaeus just copies the text of the Flora Suecica in the species plantarum for he also includes the Hortus Cliffortianus. So Weihe & Nees just split up R. fruticosus L. and keep the name with the Hortus Cliffortianus element. 

When I selected a lectotype in 1974 I should under the Tokyo Code have followed them and have selected  the lectotype according to their choice and thus the specimen of the Hortus Cliffortianus. Actually Weihe & Nees did already so because the Hortus Cliffortianus refers to only one specimen. So it was a mistake to designate another lectotype. This was however a blessing in disguise, for the specimen in the HC is a plant from the section Corylifolii and the consequences for the names of infrageneric taxa would have been great. Now that the name R. fruticosus L. has been conserved this danger is no longer relevant.

Because the name Rubus affinis Weige & Nees is thus not illegitimate, it can be restored as the correct name of the species.

The inclusion of R. collinus DC in the protologue of R. affinis is provided with a ? and thus a case of taxonomic doubt. One can presume that the ? refers to both publications of De Candolle, just like the remarks about R. saxatilis b. canadensis on p. 31 and about R. asper on p. 91. There is not any indication and thus no reason to think that the two writings of De Candolle are about two different taxa. It is not probably that Weihe has seen the specimen of De Candolle and the descriptions in the two publications with the same location where it is found do not cause an idea that these would be on different plants. Next to this: one can wonder whether the publication in the Hortus Monspelianus is valid and not a nomen provisorium.

The second valid synonym of the species is Rubus bergii (Cham. & Schlecht.) Ecklon & Zeyh. (1836), based on plants from South Africa. Rubus affinis has been introduced there and is rather common on the hills and lower mountain slopes of the the Western Cape and seperately described as R. bergii. Specimens of Zeyher are in P and MELB, though these cannot be designated as a lectotype because the validating description is by Chamisso & Schlechtendal (Linnaea 2:16, 1827). See also Van de Beek 2014.

A specimen (1829) in the Martius collection in BR is labeled as Rubus capensis,  provided with a description, but because the label is not printed but hand written this name is not effectively published.


De Chamisso, L.K.A. and De Schlechtendal, D. (1827). De plantis in expeditione speculatoria Romanzoffiana observatis. Linnaea 2, 1–37.

Ecklon, C.F. and C.L.P. Zeyher (1836). Enumeratio plantarum Africae australis extratropicae. Pethes & Besser: Hamburgi.



Van de Beek, A. 1974. Die Brombeeren des geldrischen Distriktes innerhalb der Flora der Niederlande. Meded. Bot. Mus. Herb. Rijks Univ. Utrecht 415: 1–112.

Van de Beek, A. 2014. Rubus costifolius and R. bergii in the National Herbarium of Victoria. Muelleria 32: 52-57.

Weber, H.E. . 1986. Zur Nomenklatur und Verbreitung der von K.E.A. Weihe aufgestellten Taxa der Gattung Rubus L. (Rosaceae). Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 106: 293–335.