You are on page 1of 6

Trying to get the names right Part 1

By late 2009 Margrit Bischofberger of International Crassulaceae Network has started together with Jean-Michel Moullec a small project on their website www.crassulaceae.net an illustrated list (including some basic info as well if available) of all known Echeveria hybrids and cultivars. They have very good Australian contacts and they were signaled that in New Zealand some hybrids may have different names and this could add to the confusion existing around some plants. I was asked to help their enterprise and have emailed them therefore few pictures of my plants and of several other Echeveria hybrids photographed at various CSSNZ Auckland Shows and as it turned out they were right I had apparently a 50% chance of providing either wrong or completely unknown names. It may sound bad for us but as a matter of fact misnaming plants is not strictly a New Zealand issue in few cases the same hybrid plant was known in Europe and in New Zealand as well, albeit with different names. Both wrong. It rather seems that the creativity and ingenuity of cacti and succulent collectors (and nurserymen) were put to good work in both hemispheres. * * *

Sadly, in some cases we deal with impostor plants very common or rather uninteresting hybrids being presented as the true species (it seems to be the typical situation). Such an impostor plants is an obscure Echeveria secunda hybrid widely distributed by several Auckland Garden Centers in the early 2000s as Echeveria rubromarginata. Ive got one from a friend back in 2002 and as at that time I was mainly into cacti I didnt query the name; I was even reassured the name was right after seeing several times the same plant for sale in several places. It has masqueraded in my small collection under this name for a couple of years, until my interest in other succulent plants grew to the point that I needed to do a proper research on all the plants I had and so I discovered the imposture.

1 - 2 . The impostor Echeveria rubromarginata . (Photos & collection: Eduart Zimer)

This particular hybrid seems very popular in different gardens and is sometimes confused with the old Echeveria Imbricata hybrid. It resembles actually a to sized Imbricata, including the flowers which are extremely similar except the size; it also seem to be a shy flowerer or maybe it needs really hot weather in order to flower. The flowering time was usually January for my plants, which is 1 2 Page 1

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

months later than Imbricata. Under stress it develops reddish leaf margins hence the borrowed name rubromarginata (meaning red-edged).

3 . The impostor Echeveria rubromarginata at Alfriston Botanic Gardens. In the right corner below you can see a part of an Echeveria Imbricata and the size differences between the two.
(Photo: Eduart Zimer)

If fed well and repotted yearly, the rosettes may reach 18 to 23 cm across but under normal circumstances (or if grown hard) it stays around 10 12 cm; at this size the difference between the two becomes obvious. It wasnt that obvious at Alfriston Botanic Gardens, where this obscure hybrid (or shall I name it Echeveria aka Rubromarginata?) is still masquerading under a wrong name. Maybe some of you know this plant under a different name I would be delighted to hear back if so.

4. The true Echeveria rubromarginata (one of the recent imported forms). The fine red edging of the leaf is good visible and becomes even more striking when grown in bright light. What a difference if compared to the plants above! (Photo & collection:
Margrit Bischofberger)

Actually the true Echeveria rubromarginata was until recently very rare in cultivation and most of the plants found in catalogues are impostor plants. Only quite recent a German nurseryman brought this Page 2

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

species from Mexico (apparently two different forms, both originating from material collected from nature) and as you can see from the picture the true species looks very different from all other plants we can find under this name in New Zealand, Australia and Europe. To paraphrase Margrit Bischofberger - a red leaf margin does not make any Echeveria to Echeveria rubromarginata.

5. A second form of Echeveria rubromarginata recently imported in Europe. Notice the wavy leaf edges. Margrit Bischofberger has some doubts regarding this plant, but in the future the flowers will bring out the truth. (Photo &
collection: Margrit Bischofberger)

* * *

The most obvious source of misnomers is the beginner / unaware C&S enthusiast in search of a name for his / her plants, but I have always suspected that an important role in the spread of incorrect names (or simply of names invented ad-hoc) were nurserymen disappointed by the sometimes dull and complicated Latin name, quickly replaced by a more appealing and commercial name created sometimes out of thin air. Sometimes true species are presented as named hybrids or cultivars (this may be the case of Echeveria Pink Rose released apparently 2 or 3 years ago and still very popular in Garden Centers, I will detail on this plant later on) only because of more appealing names. Like many Mexican succulents Graptopetalum paraguayense has a very complicated history with many twists and turns (a very compelling story told by Myron Kimnach & Reid Moran in their article Graptopetalum paraguayense: A History and a new Subspecies, published in CSSA Journal in 1986). Fact is that this species (of unknown origin in the early 20th century) has been originally described by N.E. Brown as Cotyledon paraguayensis in 1914, and was sold possibly as early as 1907 or 1908 as Echeveria weinbergii. However, the first documented use of the name was in a plant catalogue dated 1912 (Echeveria weinbergii Shepherd 1912, n.n.). Even if this was a nomen nudum (in Latin meaning naked name, a wannabe botanical name lacking a proper publication and / or description) it actually made sense as Frank Weinberg, a German immigrant from Breslau having a nursery in Woodside, Long Island, New York, massively contributed to all that buzz around the species by propagating and distributing this plant in the early 1900s.

Page 3

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

As Weinberg recalls in 1941 (Bits from a Collector's Life - about Frank Weinberg, published by E. Rooksby in Desert Plant Life) he sold some 100 plants to a German nurseryman from Erfurt (possibly F.A. Haage Jr. whom he knew?) and went for sale as expected under the name Echeveria weinbergii. Unfortunately it didnt sell Weinberg sounds not that exotic for a German, isnt it? But the nurseryman had quite an entrepreneurial experience and quickly changed the name on the tags to Echeveria arizonica and the lot sold immediately. No Echeveria growing in Arizona? So what - it was just the right move to attract the attention of the buyers. A century later sadly the name is still somewhat active in Europe and even worse sometimes confused for Dudleya arizonica , which is a totally different plant.

6. Graptopetalum paraguayense grown at Alfriston Botanic Gardens. (Photo Eduart Zimer)

* * *

Sometimes wonderful hybrids or cultivars are poorly documented and when they appear under different names in different parts of the world, it becomes quite a challenge for the C&S enthusiast to decide which of them is right so very true for the plant I know as x Pachyveria Exotica (wrongfully considered by some an Echeveria or even x Sedeveria I simply discard those names). Ive got this plant by early 2003 from a friend who used to work at that time at a nursery, but she didnt know the name. I happened that I saw few months later the same plant labeled x Pachyveria Exotica in a small private collection and this was enough for me at that time. More, in 2004 there was one for sale at the CSSNZ Auckland Show I think, bearing the same name and this was reassuring. However, in 2008 I suddenly became interested in the parentage of this true beauty and launched a topic on International Crassulaceae Network forum only to find out that at that time this plant was kind of mystery for the ICN members as well. Margrit Bischofberger considered Exotica (known and distributed all over Europe for quite some time - possibly starting with the late 1980s) as being the oldest name and having therefore priority to a different name x Pachyveria Kobayashi which was becoming increasingly popular in Europe by mid 2000s. She was assuming that the later just a re-introduction. It made sense and was in line with Page 4

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

the name appearing on Reia Tanakas website (a Japanese plant propagator and breeder). However, independently on the BCSS forum it was signaled that Kobayashi has been sold by a Japanese nurseryman Mr. Kobayashi at the famous yearly European ELK Succulent Show (indirectly I found out this was at least between 2002 and 2009) which again appeared to confirm her theory.

7 - 9. x Pachyveria Exotica a delicate plant of hybrid origin very probably a cross between Pachyphytum oviferum and Echeveria cante. (Photos & collection Eduart Zimer)

Page 5

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

But halfway through the debate a new name popped up - x Pachyveria Shimo no Ashita (meaning frosty morning in Japanese how appropriate!) pointing even stronger to a presumed Japanese origin of this wonderful hybrid. The oldest reference appeared to be a Japanese succulent book dated 1999, with no other references found in similar books of the 1970s and 1980s and no recollection whatsoever from other Japanese succulent enthusiasts of this plant being around at that time. Therefore by 2008 I was rather inclined to consider it a Japanese hybrid, possibly a cross between Pachyphytum oviferum and Echeveria lauii, and even if I preferred to name it Exotica I thought the more poetical Shimo no Ashita could be its original Japanese name (I was truly convinced it was created in Japan!). But by 2009 Margrit Bischofberger got one step further she found out that x Pachyveria Exotica / Kobayashi / Shimo no Ashita was the same with x Pachyveria 'Powder Puff', an US hybrid created in the 1970s by an unknown breeder and said to be a cross between Pachyphytum oviferum and Echeveria cante. If so, it is very likely that this stunning cross became very popular in Japan after a while (they have a real desire for this kind of plants) from where it was exported to Europe in at least two known introduction waves. Being apparently the oldest name 'Powder Puff' has priority, I have to admit this although I hate it it sounds to me so blunt and dull, there is no match for such a delicate plant.

Eduart Zimer, April 2011

http://eduart.page.tl/Home.htm

Page 6

PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com