As the title suggests folks, I’d like to know from you all where one draws the line between separating one species from another?
Allow me to give an example using the following observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/71814674
I have given this plant (Family: Scrophulareaceae - Genus: Zaluzianskya) a tentative ID as Zaluzianskya elongata. This was done after a number of days of intense comparison of this specimen with others in South African Herbaria and Databases as well as consulting experts
That observation does indeed conform to almost every single characteristic of the species Z. elongata, except for 3. Those are:
- This plant flowers only at the onset of total darkness as opposed to other specimens flowering at dusk and in dim light
- This plant has a heavily decumbent habit (i.e. the main shoots creep along or very close to the ground with only the flowering extremity beginning to grow upwards) as opposed to other specimens with a straight, ascending growth habit
- The corolla lobes are highly reflexed
After careful consideration, I can potentially(!) attribute these differences to the geographic location and conditions in which this observation was made - a high altitude peneplain criss-crossed with very broad and meandering river networks which is prone to diabolically low temperatures even on some summer days. I have caught glances of similar looking plants growing in very close proximity to this
So what I want to know from you all is: Do you think these differences can be regarded as sufficient enough to separate this specimen as a unique species? Or do you think that it still falls under the taxon of Z. elongata and is merely in the process of speciation? Please substantiate your reason’s, as science based as possible, for why you think so, and please note that I am NOT asking for an ID here, I just want to know if you see this as 1 or 2 different species and why
I’d really appreciate the help guys, thank you!