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The name’s Jamesbondia



May 6, 2016

James Bond by Themeplus +JBThe name’s Jamesbondia. A group of Caribbean plants, currently in the Alternanthera genus, could soon be renamed to honour the man who gave his name to the famous spy.

An article published in Plant Biosystems formally proposes the existence of a new subgenus of plants, Jamesbondia, an infrageneric group of the Neotropical flowering genus known as Alternanthera. It has officially been called Jamesbondia after the notable American ornithologist James Bond, whose name Ian Fleming is known to have used for his eponymous spy series.

The four proposed Jamesbondia plant species, currently Alternanthera costaricensis, Alternanthera geniculata, Alternanthera olivacea and Alternanthera serpyllifolia are mostly found in Central America and the Caribbean Islands. Authors I. Sánchez-del Pino and D. Iamonico have built on the research of J.M. Mears, who identified a group of Caribbean plant species as “Jamesbondia” from 1980 to 1982 in unpublished annotations on Alternanthera specimens. Molecular phylogenetic analyses and observations of the flower morphology justify the official separate naming of this group.

The name Jamesbondia has never previously been validly published. Respecting the annotations of Mears, the authors named the subgenus in honour of the American ornithologist. Sánchez-del Pino and Iamonico suspect that Mears’ choice of name relates to the geographic distribution of the species:

“‘Jamesbondia is clearly dedicated to the ornithologist James Bond (1900–1989), who focused his research on birds in the same Caribbean areas that are the primary home of the four putative species of subgenus Jamesbondia.”

Ian Fleming, a keen bird watcher, adopted the name for his series of spy novels about a fictional British Secret Service and is quoted as saying:

”It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.”

I know it’s James Bond the ornithologist not James Bond the spy, but wouldn’t you love one of them to have a species name of astonmartinii?


[Published in Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology: Official Journal of the Societa Botanica Italiana. Volume 150, Issue 2, 2016. Read the full article online at Taylor and Francis Group]

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