Page banner image

Acceptance of name changes

Taxonomists are sometimes criticised by their peers and others for what is seen to be an excessive enthusiasm for revising plant names. Name changes can be frustrating, can be difficult to keep track of and, when changes involve a group of plants which is entrenched in folklore (such as the eucalypts or banksias), they can also result in some antagonism.

Botanical revision is rarely carried out without a great deal of research but it needs to be appreciated that publication of a name change in a botanical or other journal does not necessarily mean that the change will be accepted by the wider botanical (and general) community. As an example, a publication by Lyn Craven of the Australian National Herbarium (Novon 16 468-475; December 2006 “New Combinations in Melaleuca for Australian Species of Callistemon (Myrtaceae)“) argues that the differences between Callistemon and Melaleuca are insufficient to warrant them being retained separately and that they should be combined. As Melaleuca has precedence, adoption of Craven’s work would transfer all species of Callistemon into Melaleuca. Some state herbaria have adopted this change while others retain the two genera as separate.

A national database of plant names

The issue of some authorities accepting a re-classified plant name while others do not raises a problem for an organisation like ANPSA. What names do we accept?

Our approach is to adopt the Australian Plant Census. The Australian Plant Census provides a nationally-accepted taxonomy which is endorsed by the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. The Census is a work in progress and not all plants have been reviewed.

Commonly encountered name changes

The following list is not intended to be comprehensive and it should not be regarded as definitive. It concentrates on those species of Australian plants which are more commonly encountered and where name changes are likely to cause confusion. Advice of any significant errors or omissions in the list would be appreciated.

Table 1: Some Commonly Encountered Name Changes for Australian Plants

Check for a previous or new name in the ‘Species’ column A, then read the corresponding new or previous name in column C or D.
Currently accepted names are shown in bold text. Click on underlined names to view plant images and profiles.
Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes at the bottom of the tables.

Species (A) Common Name (B) Previous Name (C) New Name (D)
Abelmoschus moschatus ssp tuberosus Native rosella Hibiscus rhodopetalus
Acacia aulacocarpa Hickory wattle Acacia disparrima and others (12)
Acacia armata Kangaroo thorn Acacia paradoxa
Acacia binervia Coast Myall Acacia glaucescens
Acacia disparrima (12) Hickory wattle Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia glaucescens Coast Myall Acacia binervia
Acacia paradoxa Kangaroo thorn Acacia armata
Acmena smithii Lilly-pilly Syzygium smithii
Agapetes meiniana Mountain Bells Paphia meiniana
Agonis juniperina Juniper myrtle Taxandria juniperina
Allocasuarina littoralis Black she-oak Casuarina littoralis
Allocasuarina torulosa Forest oak Casuarina torulosa
Allocasuarina verticillata Drooping she-oak Casurarina stricta
Alloxylon flammeum Tree waratah Oreocallis “wickhamii” (1)
Alloxylon pinnatum Dorrigo waratah Oreocallis pinnata
Alocasia brisbanensis Cunjevoi Alocasia macrorrhizos
Alocasia macrorrhizos Cunjevoi Alocasia brisbanensis
Anetholea anisata Aniseed myrtle Backhousia anisata
Asteromyrtus brassii Melaleuca brassii
Astroloma pinifolium Pine heath Stenanthera pinifolia (17)
Auranticarpa rhombifolia Diamond-leaf pittosporum Pittosporum rhombifolium
Austromyrtus inophloia Thready-barked myrtle Gossia inophloia
Backhousia anisata Aniseed myrtle Anetholea anisata
Baeckea sp. Mt Tozer Sannantha tozerensis
Baeckea ramosissima Rosy baeckea Euryomyrtus ramosissima
Baeckea virgata (10) Tall Baeckea Various genera (10)
Banksia aemula Wallum banksia Banksia serratifolia
Banksia aquilonia Banksia integrifolia
Banksia asplenifolia Banksia oblongifolia
Banksia gardneri Banksia prostrata
Banksia integrifolia var.aquilonia Banksia aquilonia
Banksia oblongifolia Banksia asplenifolia
Banksia prostrata Banksia gardneri
Banksia serratifolia Wallum banksia Banksia aemula
Billardiera erubescens Red billardiera Marianthus erubescens
Billardiera heterophylla Bluebell climber Sollya heterophylla
Brachyscome sp. aff. melanocarpa “Pilliga Posy” Brachyscome formosa
Brachyscome formosa “Pilliga Posy” Brachyscome sp. aff. melanocarpa
Brachysema celsianum (14) Swan River pea Gastrolobium celsianum
Brachysema lanceolatum (14) Swan River pea Gastrolobium celsianum
Bracteantha bracteata (11) Golden everlasting Xerochrysum bracteatum
Bracteantha subundulata (11) Orange everlasting Xerochrysum subundulatum
Callistemon ‘Injune’ Injune Bottlebrush Callistemon quercinus
Callistemon macropunctatus Scarlet Bottlebrush Callistemon rugulosus
Callistemon paludosus (2) River bottlebrush Callistemon sieberi
Callistemon pityoides (2) Alpine bottlebrush Callistemon sieberi
Callistemon quercinus Injune Bottlebrush Callistemon ‘Injune’
Callistemon rugulosus Scarlet Bottlebrush Callistemon macropunctatus
Callistemon sieberi (2) River Bottlebrush Callistemon paludosus
Callistemon sieberi (2) Alpine bottlebrush Callistemon pityoides
Calytrix sullivanii (3) Fringe Myrtle Calytrix tetragona
Calytrix tetragona Fringe Myrtle Calytrix sullivanii (3)
Cassia artemisioides Silver cassia Senna artemisioides
Cassia odorata Senna odorata
Casuarina littoralis Black she-oak Allocasuarina littoralis
Casuarina stricta Drooping she-oak Allocasuarina verticillata
Casuarina torulosa Forest oak Allocasuarina torulosa
Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. diffusum Chamelaucium sp. Nornalup
Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. floriferum Walpole wax Chamelaucium sp. Walpole
Chamelaucium sp. Nornalup Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. diffusum
Chamelaucium sp. Walpole Walpole wax Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. floriferum
Chionogentias spp. (9) Mountain gentian Gentianella diemensis
Chrysocephalum apiculatum Common everlasting Helichrysum apiculatum/H.ramosissimum
Citrus australasica Finger lime Microcitrus australasica
Citrus glauca Wild lime Eremocitrus glauca
Clianthus formosus Sturt’s desert pea Swainsona formosa
Commersonia hermanniifolia Rulingia hermanniifolia
Coronidium elatum Helichrysum elatum
Coronidium scorpioides Button Everlasting Helichrysum scorpioides
Corymbia calophylla (4) Marri Eucalyptus calophylla
Corymbia citriodora (4) Lemon-scented gum Eucalyptus citriodora
Corymbia ficifolia (4) Red flowering gum Eucalyptus ficifolia
Corymbia maculata (4) Spotted gum Eucalyptus maculata
Cryptandra scortechinii Cotton bush Spyridium scortechinii
Dendrobium cucumerinum Cucumber orchid Dockrillia cucumerina
Dendrobium linguiforme Tongue orchid Dockrillia linguiformis
Dendrobium pugioniforme Dagger orchid Dockrillia pugioniformis
Derwentia perfoliata Parahebe perfoliata
Dianella laevis (15) Smooth flax lily Dianella longifolia
Dianella longifolia (15) Smooth flax lily Dianella laevis
Dockrillia cucumerina Cucumber orchid Dendrobium cucumerinum
Dockrillia linguiformis Tongue orchid Dendrobium linguiforme
Dockrillia pugioniformis Dagger orchid Dendrobium pugioniforme
Dryandra sp. (16) Dryandra sp. Banksia sp.
Eremocitrus glauca Wild lime Citrus glauca
Eremophila debilis Winter apple Myoporum debile
Eriostemon myoporoides Long-leaf wax flower Philotheca myoporoides
Eucalyptus calophylla (4) Marri Corymbia calophylla
Eucalyptus citriodora (4) Lemon-scented gum Corymbia citriodora
Eucalyptus ficifolia (4) Red flowering gum Corymbia ficifolia
Eucalyptus maculata (4) Spotted gum Corymbia maculata
Eugenia australis Scrub or magenta cherry Syzygium australe/
Syzygium paniculatum
Eugenia cyanocarpa Blue lilly-pilly Syzygium oleosum
Eugenia floribunda Weeping lilly-pilly Syzygium floribundum
Eugenia luehmannii Small leaved lilly-pilly Syzygium luehmannii
Euodia elleryana Corkwood Melicope elleryana
Euryomyrtus ramosissima Rosy baeckea Baeckea ramosissima
Evodiella muelleri Little Evodia Melicope rubra
Gastrolobium celsianum (14) Swan River pea Brachysema celsianum
Gentianella diemensis (9) Mountain gentian Chionogentias spp.
Gossia inophloia Thready-barked myrtle Austromyrtus inophloia
Grevillea biternata (6) Grevillea curviloba subsp.
Grevillea curviloba subsp incurva Grevillea biternata (6)
Hakea archaeoides Hakea Hakea trineura (southern form)
Hakea coriacea Hakea Now included in Hakea francisiana
Hakea drupacea Sweet hakea Hakea suaveolens
Hakea salicifolia Willow-leaved hakea Hakea saligna
Hakea saligna Willow-leaved hakea Hakea salicifolia
Hakea suaveolens Sweet hakea Hakea drupacea
Hakea trineura (southern form) Hakea Hakea archaeoides
Helichrysum acuminatum (11) Orange everlasting Xerochrysum subundulatum
Helichrysum apiculatum Common everlasting Chrysocephalum apiculatum
Helichrysum bracteatum (11) Golden everlasting Xerochrysum bracteatum
Helichrysum diosmifolium Riceflower Ozothamnus diosmifolius
Helichrysum elatum Coronidium elatum
Helichrysum ramosissimum Yellow buttons Chrysocephalum apiculatum
Helichrysum scorpioides Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpioides
Helichrysum subulifolium Showy everlasting Schoenia filifolia
Helipterum anthemoides Rhodanthe anthemoides
Helipterum manglesii Pink everlasting Rhodanthe manglesii
Helipterum roseum Pink paper daisy Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Hibiscus rhodopetalus Native rosella Abelmoschus moschatus ssp.tuberosus
Kreysigia multiflora Bush lily Tripladenia cunninghamii
Kunzea ericoides Burgan Leptospermum ericoides
Leionema ambiens (7) Phebalium ambiens
Leionema dentatum (7) Phebalium dentatum
Leionema phylicifolium (7) Phebalium phylicifolium
Leptospermum ericoides Burgan Kunzea ericoides
Leptospermum flavescens Yellow tea tree Leptospermum polygalifolium
Leptospermum lanigerum
Leptospermum macrocarpum
Leptospermum macrocarpum Leptospermum lanigerum
Leptospermum polygalifolium Yellow tea tree Leptospermum flavescens
Leptospermum rotundifolium Leptospermum scoparium
Leptospermum scoparium
Leptospermum rotundifolium
Lophostemon confertus Brush box Tristania conferta
Marianthus erubescens Red billardiera Billardiera erubescens
Melaleuca brassii Asteromyrtus brassii
Melaleuca diosmatifolia Melaleuca erubescens
Melaleuca erubescens Melaleuca diosmatifolia
Melicope elleryana Corkwood Euodia elleryana
Melicope rubra Little Evodia Evodiella muelleri
Microcitrus australasica Finger lime Citrus australasica
Microstrobos fitzgeraldii Dwarf mountain pine Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii
Myoporum debile Winter apple Eremophila debilis
Nematolepis squamea (7) Phebalium squameum
Omalanthus nutans Bleeding heart Omalanthus populifolius
Omalanthus populifolius Bleeding heart Omalanthus nutans
Oreocallis pinnata Dorrigo waratah Alloxylon pinnatum
Oreocallis “wickhamii” (1) Tree waratah Alloxylon flammeum
Oxylobium scandens Podolobium scandens
Ozothamnus diosmifolius Riceflower Helichrysum diosmifolium
Paphia meiniana Mountain Bells Agapetes meiniana
Parahebe perfoliata Derwentia perfoliata
Phaius australis Swamp Lily Phaius tancarvilleae
Phaius tancarvilleae Swamp Lily Phaius australis
Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii Dwarf mountain pine Microstrobos fitzgeraldii
Phebalium ambiens (7) Leionema ambiens
Phebalium dentatum (7) Leionema dentatum
Phebalium phylicifolium (7) Leionema phylicifolium
Phebalium squameum (7) Nematolepis squamea
Philotheca myoporoides Long-leaf wax flower Eriostemon myoporoides
Pittosporum rhombifolium Diamond-leaf pittosporum Auranticarpa rhombifolia
Podolobium scandens Oxylobium scandens
Rhodanthe anthemoides Helipterum anthemoides
Rhodanthe chlorocephala ssp.rosea Pink paper daisy Helipterum roseum
Rhodanthe manglesii Pink everlasting Helipterum manglesii
Rulingia hermanniifolia Commersonia hermanniifolia
Sannantha tozerensis Baeckea sp. Mt Tozer
Senna artemisioides Silver cassia Cassia artemisioides
Senna odorata Cassia odorata
Schoenia filifolia ssp.subulifera Showy everlasting Helichrysum subulifolium
Sollya heterophylla Bluebell climber Billardiera heterophylla
Spyridium scortechinii Cotton bush Cryptandra scortechinii
Stenanthera pinifolia (17) Pine heath Astroloma pinifolium
Stypandra caespitosum Tufted blue-lily Thelionema caespitosum
Swainsona formosa (8) Sturt’s desert pea Clianthus formosus
Syncarpia glomulifera Turpentine Syncarpia laurifolia
Syncarpia laurifolia Turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera
Syzygium australe (5) Scrub or magenta cherry Eugenia australis
Syzygium coolminianum Blue lilly-pilly Syzygium oleosum
Syzygium floribundum Weeping lilly-pilly Waterhousea floribunda
Eugenia floribunda
Syzygium luehmannii Small leaved lilly-pilly Eugenia luehmannii
Syzygium oleosum Blue lilly-pilly Eugenia cyanocarpa/
Syzygium coolminianum
Syzygium paniculatum (5) Scrub or magenta cherry Eugenia australis
Syzygium smithii Lilly-pilly Acmena smithii
Syzygium unipunctatum Roly poly satinash Waterhousea unipunctata
Taxandria juniperina Juniper myrtle Agonis juniperina
Thelionema caespitosum Tufted blue-lily Stypandra caespitosum
Toona australis Red cedar Toona ciliata
Toona ciliata Red cedar Toona australis
Tripladenia cunninghamii Bush lily Kreysigia multiflora
Tristania conferta Brush box Lophostemon confertus
Tristania laurina Water gum Tristaniopsis laurina
Tristaniopsis laurina Water gum Tristania laurina
Waterhousea floribunda Weeping lilly-pilly Syzygium floribundum
Waterhousea unipunctata Roly poly satinash Syzygium unipunctatum
Viola banksii (13) Native violet Viola hederacea
Viola hederacea (13) Native violet Viola banksii
Xerochrysum bracteatum (11) Golden everlasting Bracteantha bracteata/Helichrysum bracteatum
Xerochrysum subundulatum (11) Orange everlasting Bracteantha subundulata/Helichrysum acuminatum


Table 2. Some Re-classified Plant Families
Currently accepted names are shown in bold text

Superseded Family Name Common Genera New Family Name
Caesalpiniaceae Cassia, Senna Now included in Fabaceae as sub-family Caesalpinioideae
Epracidaceae Epacris, Leucopogon, Styphelia Now included in Ericaceae as sub-family Epacridoideae
Mimosaceae Acacia, Parachidendron Now included in Fabaceae as sub-family Mimosoideae
Myoporaceae Eremophila, Myoporum Now included in Scrophulariaceae
Sterculeaceae Brachychiton, Guichenotia, Thomasia Now included in Malvaceae as sub-family Sterculioideae
Xanthorrhoeaceae Xanthorrhoea Now included in Asphodelaceae as sub-family Xanthorrhoeoideae
  1. The plant commonly cultivated as Oreocallis wickhamii was not, in fact, the true O.wickhamii (now known as Alloxylon wickhamii)
  2. The Callistemon paludosus/pityoides/sieberi changes are confusing. Apparently research has shown that the plant previously referred to as C.paludosus was attributable to the original description of C.sieberi, thus requiring the reinstatement of the original name. As a result a new name (C.pityoides) has been applied to the plant previously known as C.sieberi.
  3. Calytrix sullivanii has been incorporated into the existing species, C.tetragona.
  4. In 1995 the genus Corymbia, of 113 species, was created by K.Hill and L.Johnson (Telopea, Volume 6(2-3)). In addition to 33 new species, Hill and Johnson transferred the four Eucalyptus species listed here, plus another 76, to the new genus. More recently, Ian Brooker absorbed both Corymbia and Angophora into Eucalyptus (Australian Systematic Botany 13, 79-148.) but this work does not appear to have gained wide acceptance and most authorities retain EucalyptusCorymbia and Angophora as separate genera.
  5. Eugenia australis is now regarded as two separate species, Syzygium australe and S.paniculatum.
  6. The popular garden plant commonly known as Grevillea biternata is incorrectly named. The correct name is G.curviloba subsp incurva. The true G.biternata is not widely cultivated.
  7. Extensive revision of the genus Phebalium by Paul Wilson has seen 21 species transferred to the genus Leionema, 6 species transferred to Nematolepis and 3 species transferred to Rhadinothamnus. 25 species remain in Phebalium.
  8. Alex George (well known to many for his work in the revision of Banksia and Dryandra and for his work on the Flora Of Australia project) published a name change for Sturt’s desert pea in the ‘Western Australian Naturalist’ in 1999. He has called the plant Willdampia formosa in honour of the explorer William Dampier. This proposal, however, does not seem to have received general acceptance.
  9. Until 1995, all Australian gentians were considered to be included under Gentianella diemensis. They have now been transferred to the genus Chionogentias and split into 14 separate species. The genus Chionogentias also occurs outside of Australia.
  10. The species formerly known as Baeckea virgata (now Sannantha virgata) is considered to be restricted to New Caledonia and does not occur in Australia. Australian plants formerly referred to Baeckea virgata have been re-classified to a number of different genera including Sannantha, Kardomia and Harmogia.
  11. Several species formerly included in the genus Helichrysum were transferred to the new genus Bracteantha in 1991. However, it has recently (2001) been discovered that the name Xerochrysum, published by a Russian botanist in 1990, must take precedence under the rules of botanical nomenclature. This means that Bracteantha bracteatum and B.subundulata (and several other species) are now reclassified under the genus Xerochrysum.
  12. The name Acacia aulacocarpa is still current but has been widely misapplied and a number of forms previously referred to as A.aulacocarpa have now been transferred to other species. The form from coastal and near coastal areas of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales (and the one most commonly referred to as A.aulacocarpa in the past) is now A.disparrima.
  13. The name Viola hederacea is still current but research has indicated that the form commonly cultivated is sufficiently distinct from the type form of that species to warrant re-classification.
  14. All species in the genus Brachysema have been transferred to the genus Gastrolobium.
  15. Dianella laevis is now recognised as D.longifolia in WA, NT, Qld, NSW and the ACT. Victorian populations are regarded as distinct and the name D.laevis is still current in that State.
  16. A paper published by A R Mast and K Thiele (The transfer of Dryandra R.Br. to Banksia L.f. (Proteaceae); Australian Systematic Botany, 26 February 2007), proposed that the genus Dryandra be subsumed into Banksia. This revised classification has been accepted by the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria and the new Banksia names now appear on Florabase (the website for the Western Australian Herbarium) and in the Australian Plant Census. The new classification has come in for some criticism but, as the Australian Plant Census has been adopted as the authority on plant names by ANPSA, the revised classifiation has been accepted on the ANPSA website.
  17. The reclassification of two species of Astroloma to Stenanthera is accepted in the Australian Plant Census but is not accepted by some other authorities (it is possible that both Stenanthera and Astroloma, together with several other related genera, will be transferred to an expanded Styphelia genus in the future).

Thanks to the late John Wrigley, Cas Liber, John Atkinson and Angus McLeod for providing comments and suggestions.