With the release of its second part in the Anales of the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid, the taxonomic study of Ruiz and Pavón's Orchidaceae of the "Flora Peruviana et Chilensis" comes to the end. The last part of the study presents the interpretation of the orchid illustrations produced during the Royal expedition to Peru and Chile, relative to the species of the genera included between Oncidium and Zygopetalum.
Several of the old names published by the Spanish botanists, and so far remained obscure to modern botanists, were interpreted at the light of the original illustrations conserved in Madrid. So, Bletia parviflora turned out to be a species of the genus Cyrtochilum, Bletia uniflora a species of Sauvetrea, Fernandezia punctata is actually a Maxillariella, Humboldtia acutiflora is a Specklinia, H. polystachya an Acianthera, Maxillaria triphylla an Oncidium (or an Odontoglossum for those who prefer retaining this genus), and M. undatiflora another species of the Andean genus Cyrtochilum. Several of these species probably received modern names, to be now relegated into synonymy.
It is quite clear, while we are still floating in the middle of a new wave of generic recircumscriptions, that the generic concepts used by the botanists of the late eighteenth century were often radically different from those we are more acquainted with. The study and interpretation of the old taxonomic literature is fundamental to maintain a stable nomenclatorial system.
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Pupulin, F. 2012. The Orchidaceae of Ruiz & Pavón’ “Flora Peruviana et Chilensis”. A taxonomic study. II. Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 69(2): 143–186.