was so refreshing to read your words in defense of Graf and it’s good to
know that I have a kindred spirit out there.
I think too many of us
have over reacted to the fact that Graf’s Exotica and Tropica are full of
what we now know to be inaccuracies regarding nomenclature.
problem is that Graf’s books were regarded as THE authority by many
collectors. But in those days, where else could you go for information in
easily accessible form? Now there have been huge advances in sorting things
out, thanks to hard-working and dedicated people like Tom Croat.
reaction against Graf reached its worst manifestation in the throwing or giving
away of his books ! These books always were and still are a useful
lead in tracking down a plant. As a collection of photographs they are still
unrivalled, aren’t they?
best thing you wrote Ed is that you want to grow some of these plants whatever
their name !
have a 19th century book on “stove” plants, with engravings
as illustrations. Because some of the names are no longer valid, should I
throw away the book?
In defense of Mr. Graf, he was in large
part dependent on information obtained from the N.J. growers like Roehrs, Manda
and others, whose greenhouses were established in the 1800s. NJ was
the major port of entry for the tons of newly discovered plants arriving
annually in the U.S.
from Africa, Asia and South America as Florida
was still a swamp. The stuff came in so fast that you could barely
describe it (or photograph) it fast enough. The book is full of errors, as were
the collections and herbariums of most botanical gardens of the times,
but its also full of photographs of interesting Aroids many of which I
have an interest in attempting to grow whatever their proper scientific name.
W.A. Manda's greenhouses were full of misnamed plants but I miss Bob and
his son Alan (the last of the Manda's), their beat up copy of Exotica and the
plants they grew as they gave me an interest which I have enjoyed my entire