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Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'
  • From: "Steve Lucas Exotic Rainforest" <steve@exoticrainforest.com>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 15:47:18 -0600

Title: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'
Thanks Jonathan!  I am in agreement with everything you write.  I do have one minor exception.  Today I posted a note from Mauro Peixoto in Brazil.  Mauro is well known in the aroid community and operates www.BrazilPlants.com.  Mauro emphasized (I believe) the importance of the name Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina' to people in Brazil who are aware of the very rare plant they assigned the name.  Since they apparently granted the plant that name, and it is frequently used in published articles regarding Philodendron spiritus-sancti, it would appear that plant has a proprietary claim.  I readily admit, common names are worthless.  I comment on their usage on many of my website pages.  It just seems of little use for so many long bladed plants that vaguely resemble the rare species to parade using the name, especially when offered for sale.  I also readily admit little can be done about the continued use.  But at least the ones of us who are most likely to fall prey to the "name" can be made aware.  Beyond that, anyone can buy any plant they wish and call it whatever they wish.  And something tells me they will.
Thanks again!
Steve Lucas
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:37 AM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron 'Santa Leopoldina'


Basically what you have run into is the curse of the common name. It is a challenge compounded here for several reasons, the first being financial, since at least some are going to equate the common name 'Santa Leopoldina' with the extremely rare and therefore extremely valuable Philo. spiritus-sancti. I find it very interesting that some are suggesting that the common name be used in a much more widespread way, as it currently seems to be whether purposefully or not. Of course, the more widespread the usage, the less use the common name has - but that may well be the point that these folks are raising, whether intentionally or not.

The whole idea of which plant takes precedence for holding this common name is almost implying some sort of pseudo-scientific status for the common name, of which there is none. It doesn't really matter which plant Graf assigned that common name to - the fact that it has become more widespread is just the way it is. Some will argue a "rightful owner" for the common name, but since it is a common name the argument doesn't have much substance.

On a brighter note, this has been very useful for me to share with some of my students as a great example of the challenges of common names. I used to just use the local example of going to a nursery and asking about a native plant called "spice bush," and how you  had a one in three or one in four chance of getting the specific plant that you had in mind. But your web site pointing up all the Philodendrons, including both species and likely hybrids as well, that are potentially called 'Santa Leopoldina' has my spice bush example well trumped.

Good Growing.


Interestingly, I have received far more response to my request for your input on the use of the term 'Santa Leopoldina' in personal email than an exchange of ideas on this board.  I have gathered as much as possible and now posted it on a permanent page on the website.  I also find it of interest that more than one person appears to feel I should just drop the subject and let the name 'Santa Leopoldina' be used for any plant in the jungle with a long blade.  Certainly, I make no pretense to be the final authority.  Anyone can call any plant by any name they choose.  Several of us are just curious why so many growers and sellers use that name for so many different plants?  And the list is still growing.  I now have 12 plants on the page and there are more to be found on the internet. 
One writer pointed out since Graf's use of the term predates either Bette Waterbury or other more recent articles his plant should take precedence.  Does that mean Philodendron spiritus-sancti should not be the rightful owner?  I no longer have his books so I cannot personally comment.
Again, I invite your comments and will post anyone's comment who grants permission.  I ask you post them here so we all can read your opinions.  Of course, if you'd rather send me a personal note, feel free.
Steve Lucas

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