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Re: "Elephant Ear"???

  • Subject: Re: "Elephant Ear"???
  • From: "Harry Luther" <hluther@selby.org>
  • Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 18:56:46 -0400

Title: Re: [Aroid-l] "Elephant Ear"???
Regarding Colocasia esculenta, remember you are dealing with a cultigen here, maybe undomesticated populations  as well. These are under great selection pressure and may not behave as "regular species".      HEL
-----Original Message-----
From: aroid-l-bounces@gizmoworks.com [mailto:aroid-l-bounces@gizmoworks.com]On Behalf Of Jonathan Ertelt
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:07 AM
To: Discussion of aroids
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] "Elephant Ear"???

The problem of how "elephant ears" are labeled would be hard to pin on any one source without a doubt. When I look at the information that has come in to Steve about Colocasia esculenta over the past few days, (and granted I have not seen it all), it would seem that this is as wide open a species concept as I've come across in the plant world, as far as I can think this time of day off the top of my head. When you think about it, in other genera within our own family here (speaking of Araceae of course), the size or texture of a leaf blade, appearance of the venation, or cross-section of petiole showing different shapes can make the difference between species. But if my understanding is correct here, this species concept is plastic enough that leaf size, surface, appearance of venation, (i.e. raised and rounded or angled, or flat), petiole appearance, position of inflorescence, shape, size, color of inflorescence, and of course habitat and resulting vegetative growth, and likely pollinator differences as well between habitat extremes of wet and dry - none of these things matter with this species. A most interesting dilemma - it is no wonder that it has so many synonyms, both scientific and common. When all the usual species defining characteristics are thrown out, where do we go? With such incredibly wide degrees of variation, whether one is using the common name or the botanical, another could still have no earthly idea of the image of plant being discussed. An interesting  dilemma indeed.

Jonathan
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