----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:37
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron
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.
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
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.