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Re: Philodendron santa leopoldina

  • Subject: Re: Philodendron santa leopoldina
  • From: "Ron Iles" <roniles@eircom.net>
  • Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 10:27:01 -0600 (CST)

I suggest there is a fundamental principle exemplified here.  Thank you for precipitating it, Betsy.
Wild plants & animals more & more are regarded as exigent "investment", ornamental "Works of Art" according to their rarity,  beauty, ugliness or other "differences"     In our finite "owning" of endangered species do we not accept the full responsibility for their survival?    I submit that any right to exclusivity we claim in "owning"   living breathing life must be from that life's viewpoint & is earned by our ability to protect it at all costs.    Living Natural Works of Art differ from other urbane speculative Life "investments".   They need to be propagated.  If species are endangered then numbers need to be built up most rapidly into populations of sufficient size to survive in the worst scenario.   I suggest this entails careful dissemination to an adequate range of secure venues.   If the species was on the official Higher Vertebrate endangered list I would not be writing this.   If there are only five P. spiritu-sancti left & this can be professionally confirmed then does the species not qualify for inclusion in the most critical category of CITES?     Could it be the very first of  already many rare & endangered aroids to be Internationally protected & therefore most expertly propagated by professional specialists such as yourself for posterity?   Finally when there as few of species like Pandas left in the World  "accession data" become non-priority.  i.e. if there are only FIVE(!) "Pandas" in this desperate situation what the hell does it matter from what forest glade it came.   And incidentally, most careful re-introduction of propagated endangered species is surely into areas where their chances of re-establishment are best, not unfortunately from the exact habitat from which they were threatened.  The issue is a fundamental one.  Those who "own" very rare species carry the custodial responsibility for their greatest chances of breeding & survival for posterity & have the skills & resources to ensure this.    As with fauna this concerivably could lead to "endangered species" specialist nurseries who are stringently responsible & accountable.   It seems that the days when any  individual could export & import any wild species are virtually over.  Unregulated adhoc amateur non-vocational  "butterfly poaching" will be as dead as the Dodo maybe deservedly so if in these terrible days systems for legitimate overt collection with permits then becomes the rule.    It would be wonderful if it could also lead to rapid global evolution of endangered wild species propagation specialists with plants as with key many animals.  It is further idealistic & optimistic but one achieves nothing without ideas.  Furthermore if it enforces rights of all other species & peoples on the Planet away from our own catastrophic exploitative discordant materialism it cannot be other than global good news for a change.    I hope P. spiritu-sancti (CITES 1) & all the other as yet unprotected species can be saved from the brink.   Well done, Betsy.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2001 6:47 AM
Subject: Re: Philodendron santa leopoldina

I want to say something before this gets any further. To promulgate that those who have, owe it to society to donate this plant to be cloned so it will be saved in the wild is somewhat next to saying we are responsible for it being rare in the first place. Since, to my knowledge, there is little or now collection data for this plant, because it originally was seen in the Brule Marx collection and bought in that area by three devout collectors years ago, how on God's green earth would you know where to re-establish it and then, where would the funding for such come from since it is very costly to undertake such a task. Just putting something back in the jungle in the area has a minuscule odds of survival. Are you going to stay there and tend to it?  Many a plant has been saved from extinction by collectors and their genuine efforts to preserve in living form. To imply that the only way to save this plant itself, is to clone it, I highly doubt that one also. I am not saying that what you say does not have a grain of possibility, because it does, but on the other hand, the proven record of collectors preserving the perceived rare and little known, has a pretty darn good record. Look at the old Anthurium splendidum, (I know the name has been changed). It has hung around by cuttings. Look at Anthurium reflexnervium, it is still around and actually it is still around in the wild even though botancially speaking it was thought to be gone. Could it be that a few of your premises are slanted to the desire to have the plant and to genuinely save the plant in a specific way. Just maybe, those of us collectors have the same desire to save but perhaps not by the same means that you see. Perhaps at this moment, with all the discussion you give, we can agree to disagree.

Funny, it is not the philosophical end that I see and that you see that is at odds. First, it is the presumption that this does not exist in the wild. How do you know that? Next, it is the presumption that the collector should give, the meristem doers would give without any monetary reward to them for their work and then that this would ever be successfully be reintroduced to the wild while being made available to the public. Your idea that the public would pay some large money for a cloned, mass produced plant, is rather ify. When plants become available, the price goes down. Many a plant has been cloned, come out on the market, sold, and never done again. Why, because the market did not last for that plant or times were such that it was not a high money maker and was let go. In that case, this flurry was fleeting and often is. Those of us who have been out there in the market place, watch plants come and go in the commercial realm and it usually is those that we see as special and neat.

I would ask in these discussions if there is to be more, that the inference of guilt for a difference of opinion, be left off. I do not feel guilty for admiring the plant I just bought, for having no desire to cut it to donate for someone else to reap the benefit of my hard earned expenditure. Perhaps you are not aware of the very big risk of cutting philodendrons. I have lost both pieces of philodendron cuttings many a time. And along that line, many a cloning has failed. If at some point I want to take the risk of cutting this plant or any plant I have, in order that I share it with another, either for money or as a gift, it is my choice. I see that choice for every other person who has it. If one of them decides to have it cloned, I support their choice in that one also. If they decide to clone it and reap their own harvest for that effort along with the risks, that is also their choice. I hear a lot of promulgation of altruism by those who have for the benefit of those who do not. I also hear that it is our responsibility to make it available so that it can be introduced into the wild when the place that it came from is not known and support system to do such is non existent.  I see that as a choice by the ones who have. I feel certain they will come to an appropriate conclusion and it may differ in form from those who want this plant for whatever reason or reasons.


"john s. smolowe" wrote:

Gee, does the society really want to make $ by keeping species close to extinction? I'd sure feel guilty if my rare plant died after I refused to clone it - and God knows rare plants do die easily (that's a major reason why they are rare). Hopefully someone can envision a plan where everyone wins, including the owner and the beleaguered species.

Would it not be possible, for example, to give a commission on each clone sold to the owner of the mother plant? That is what is done with orchids that are mericloned. $5 on each plant sold for the first 120 plants would cover the $600. Then the owner would have a free specimen, lots of us would have babies, and extinction would be averted.

John Smolowe
Menlo Park, CA

Betsy Feuerstein wrote:

I hear what you are saying, but I who just paid my left arm to get this plant, would just as soon we wait for the next millennium to do it. Those of us who have paid a fortune for it would think twice about such most likely. Also, it certainly would cut in the society's pocketbook take from the auctions. Just a personal come back to this discussion.


"john s. smolowe" wrote:

In his recent Aroidiana article on Philodendron spiritus-sancti, aka Philodendron santa leopoldina (the rare, desirable variety) Eduardo Goncalves suggests the species be made widely available by micropropagation. I emailed him and he wrote back:

"I am just aware that there are no more
than 5 known plants of P. spiritus-sancti in the wild. It can be considered
almost extinct in the wild. I would love to see it being micropropagated,
because it will remain as an amazing plant, even if it was being sold at
K-Mart! Unfortunately, I do not have the facilities here, and I also do not
have a living plant of it myself. That collected plant were donated to a
private conservatory that has the proper infra-structure to grow it. Well, I think there are
more plants of P. spiritus-sancti in the US than in Brazil (even considering
the wild specimens!)."

I'd be interested in contributing to a fund to make that happen. Does anyone know the practical details? I suppose we'd have to find and deal with an appropriate lab, and also find a willing owner of the correct plant.

John Smolowe
Menlo Park, CA

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