Fixing Lupinus lepidus taxonomy

I’ve been creating draft taxon swaps to update the taxonomy of the old Lupinus lepidus varieties to the new taxonomy according to POWO. Most of them are straightforward with few to no observations affected (see table below). However, there are many observations that are not assigned to varieties or subspecies and in the new circumscription L. lepidus should only refer to var. lepidus. I appreciate any suggestions about how to proceed.

All of the “new names” already exist as valid taxa in iNat, though Lupinus confertus was inactive so I re-activated it and added the new source citations.

@jdmore @bouteloua @wisel @aaronliston

From what I see, the new treatment of Lupinus lepidus is a different definition than the old version (that is, it’s now restricted to just 1 of the old varieties). When this happens, it’s generally best, per guidelines, to do a taxon split from the original (sensu lato) taxon and to create a new taxon (sensu stricto). The new taxon for L. lepidus s.s. can be staged (so created as inactive), then the old taxon s.l. can be split between L. confertus, L. culbertsonii, L. lepidus s.s., L. sellulus var. lobii, and L. caespitosus var. utaensis. This would keep only those previously identified as L. lupinus var* lupinus under L. lupinus s.s. and preserve the taxonomic group represented by existing IDs.

The one negative to how splits work is that anything not given any ID to variety would be bumped up to the lowest common taxon (currently genus). However, the positive is that those with any ID to variety (for species now outside of L. lupinus s.s.) won’t have those IDs count against them due to that ID, by old taxonomic standing, representing multiple species (i.e. 5 IDs of L. lupinus s.l. and one of L. lupinus var. confertus, after taxon changes, would display as L. confertus instead of being bumped up to Lupinus). So this best preserves what was meant by those IDs.

Thanks for the procedural insight. When I set up the new record for L. lepidus s.s. do I put “s.s.” in the scientific name? And then would I edit the original taxon and add the “s.l.”? I haven’t seen this before on iNat and I want to get it right.

No, you won’t add s.s. or s.l. to anything.

When you make the new taxon for L. lepidus (s.s.) you’ll have to mark it as inactive too. It won’t let you save a new taxon with the same name as an existing one if it’s grafted to the same parent.


I see you created the same split I did, would you like to take the lead? I’ve been working on a key to help people figure out where all the varieties go and I would like to include it in the description of the split.

Key to Lupinus lepidus varieties

A1 Racemes sessile or very short-pedunculate, shorter than the leaves and largely concealed by them

B1 Wing petals slender, 7-8 mm, about 1/3 as broad; banner slender, width < 3/5 length; c Ore to w Mont and s to Colo and Utah, also in White Mtns, Cal…
… var. utahensis >> L. caespitosus var. utahensis

B2 Wing petals broader, gen > 8 mm and nearly 1/2 as broad; banner broader, width 3/5 of length; Blue Mts, Ore, and Okanogan Co, Wash… var. cusickii >> L. cusickii var. cusickii

A2 Raceme pedunculate, at least partially surpassing leaves

C1 Plants prostrate and matted

D1 racemes mostly < 5 cm at anthesis; upper montane to subalpine; BC to s Cal, e to w Ida and Nev var. lobbii >> L. sellulus var. lobbii

D2 racemes elongate mostly > 5 cm at anthesis; dry, open pine forest, s Ore and n Cal, e to s Ida and ne Nev … var. sellulus >> L. sellulus var. sellulus

C2 Plants not matted

E1 Plants with simple or branched stems generally more than 10 cm long and bearing 4 or more leaves

F1 Racemes usually solitary and terminal, long and dense, 9-15 whorls; vernally moist meadows in pine and sagebrush; ne Cal and nw Nev …
var. confertus >> L. confertus

F2 Racemes usually several, short and open, 3-7 whorls; rocky ridges and hillsides; ec Cal

G1 Leaflets 10-30 mm, flowers 9-11 mm, Kaweah River, Tulare & Fresno Cos. var. culbertsonii >> L. culbertsonii

G2 Leaflets 5-15 mm, flowers 7-9 mm; c Sierras, White and Sweetwater Mountains, Cal… var. ramosus >> L. confertus

E1 Plants with short stems, less than 10 cm and bearing fewer than 4 leaves

H1 Racemes gen partially concealed by longer leaves; flowers mostly ~ 9-11 mm; sandy or gravely hillsides in sagebrush and juniper; sc Wash to Cal and Nev, e to sc Ida var. aridus >> L. aridus var. aridus

H2 Racemes gen exserted well beyond longest leaves; flowers 11-13 mm; dry prairies and slopes; s BC to nw Ore, w Cas … var. lepidus >> L. lepidus s.s.

Key cobbled together from Intermountain Flora, 1989; Flora of the Pacific Northwest, 1981; Jepson, 2012; Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States, 1950.

Janel Johnson (jdjohnson), 6 Aug 2019.

Cool – everything is drafted now. Feel free to directly edit the taxon split to modify your key that I pasted there.

For splits we’d want to consider whether it’s worthwhile to create atlases for each output taxon so that the IDs can be reassigned based on range if possible, but looks like there’s enough overlap in the ranges here that it’s not worth it.

I flagged the taxon to continue the conversation:

Thanks Cassi!