Rubus corylifolius Schmidel ex Smith

Rubus corylifolius Schmidel ex Smith

Smith published his Rubus corylifolius twice in 1800. Usually authors refer to his Flora Brittannica (Smith 1800b), but he also validly published it in English Botany in his description of R. fruticosus L. (Smith 1800a). In the Flora he gives his own description and references to Withering and Schmidel. In English Botany he writes that he will publish an illiustration of R. corylifolius which has been described as a var. by Withering and also in the Icones of Schmidel. This is a valid description. Smith does not say that he will publish the species in the future, but only that he will publish a picture later, of a species that he already accepts and is defined by the descriptions of Withering and Schmidel. The publication in English Botany was 1 April 1800 and the Flora later in April (TL 2 [Stafleu & Cowan 1985] gives as date of publication: between 14 March en 29 April 1800. The Monthly Review of April (p. 369) mentions, however, that Smith ‘is now about to publish’ the Flora. The Medical and Physical Journal of May (p. 489) says: ‘Smith … has just published two volumes of his Flora Brittannica which the botanical world has been anxiously expecting some time.’ Further the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (p. 732) inform that Smith presented the Flora on May, 1. So the publication must be in April. Thus the one in English Botany has priority.

The references to Withering and Schmidel do not have the same status. As for Withering, Smith only says that he published the taxon as a variety, without any further references. Because Withering (1796) published two varieties it is not clear which one Smith means. As for Schmidel, he gives a full reference to the Icones I,2. By consequence the description of the taxon by Schmidel is the validating description of R. corylifolius Smith. It is a very precise illustration with detailed descriptions of the characteristics.

Weber (1982) selected as a type for R. corylifolius the picture in English Botany (Smith 1801), because all specimens in Smith’ herbarium are later than the publication and none of these fully fits to the description. The picture is a neotype because it is also dated after the time of publication. So we have to search for earlier material. As Weber already found out there is nothing in Smith’ own collection that can be used for this. The staff of Holmesdale Museum in Reigate was so kind to search in the collection of Withering, but she could not find anything relevant. Next to this, the type must be sought in the specimens of Schmidel because the validating description is his. Mr. Nezadal sought in the herbarium in Erlangen where Schmidel worked but he could not find a specimen. Therefore I selected the picture in the Icones of Schmidel as the lectotype (icon in Schmidel, Icon. pl. I,2, 1762, Rubus maior fructu nigro J.B). This is a very beautiful and detailed painting. It represents a plant that is very close to R. lobatidens H.E.Weber & Stohr. It lacks however the characteristic straight prickles on the floricane. Therefore I leave its further synonymy open. It is just R. corylifolius Smith and represents a characteristic taxon of what we presently call Corylifolii. By consequence there is no problem that names of infrageneric taxa must be changed such as would be the case if the type would be one of the Subidaei. Only the name of the series Sepincoli to which the plant obviously belongs must be renamed; its correct name is series Corylifolii (Lindl.) Focke.


Schmidel, C.C..1762. Icones plantarum. Lavnoy, Norimbergiae.

Smith, J.E. 1800a. English Botany 10. Sowerby, London.

- 1800b. Flora Britannica 2. White, Londini.

- 1801. English Botany 11. Sowerby, London.

Stafleu, F.A. & Cowan, R.S.. 1985. Taxonomic Literature 5. Regnum Vegetabile 112. Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, Utrecht & Antwerp

Withering, W. 1796. An arrangement of British plants, 3rd ed., vol. 2. Robinson & White, London.

  • Rubus corylifolius Smith  lectotype
    Rubus corylifolius Smith lectotype