Tem Smitinand’s book ‘Thai Plant Names’ was published in 1980 and then revised after his death and published again in 2001. It is an important check-list of Thai plants and numerous Thai names are included in addition to the scientific names. Unfortunately the book is sold out by the publisher (Royal Forest Department), and we may have to wait another ten years for the next revision.
When I visited the Chiang Mai University herbarium the curator, Mr James Maxwell, showed me another publication from 1948 which is surprisingly similar to Smitinand’s of 1980: Winit, W.P. (Wanankorn Phya) 1948. Siamese Plant Names. Royal Forest Department. Bangkok. 504 pages.
Surprisingly this book is not even mentioned in Smitinand’s 2001 edition, but evidently this is the foundation of Smitinand’s book. Although a dead scientist could not care less, I think we should acknowledge the original author of historical reasons, and acknowledge the fact that the Royal Forest Department published important books already in 1948. Tuning an already existing book or invention is less difficult than being the original author or inventor. Giving all the credit to Tem Smitinand is like claiming Toyota invented the automobile.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell