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Re: Alocasia Amazonica and Alocasia x Amazonica

  • Subject: Re: Alocasia Amazonica and Alocasia x Amazonica
  • From: "Famille FERRY" <jpcferry2@wanadoo.fr>
  • Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2009 11:22:11 +0100

Dear Steve,

I do not master the English and I do not fully understand your message.

We speak whith French ? Edouard André or André Michaux?
 I took the opportunity to recall that Anthurium andraeanum is dedicated to Edouard André. It is her friend Linden who has dedicated this species. 
 André is the official name  of the french  botanist Édouard André (1840- 1911).
André Michaux, born March 7, 1746 in Versailles, died October 11, 1802 in Tamatave (Madagascar), was a botanist and explorer French.

It is very interesting to understand the origin of names.
Steve  thank you very much for your detective work. It is exciting.
Best regards ,
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 7:37 AM
Subject: [Aroid-l] Alocasia Amazonica and Alocasia x Amazonica

This one is going to be long guys and gals so please stay with me!.  Since many of you are growing this plant you may find this interesting.

I am seeking the assistance of any and all the botanists and/or experts on this forum since I've uncovered an apparent new mystery and can't seem to reach a resolution. 

Although at least one plant seller on the internet advertises "Straight from the Rainforest to Your Home" while offering Alocasia Amazonica for sale this plant has never existed naturally in any rain forests of the world. It is very well known this plant is a hybrid but the actual parentage has been debated.  Alocasia Amazonica is likely a hybrid of Alocasia watsoniana x Alocasia sanderiana but other crosses including Alocasia watsoniana x Alocasia nobilis have produced similar results. Other sources have stated other parentage is involved so I'm not sure what the real parentage may have been, I only know it did not come from nature. 

The plant is sometimes known by the common names African Mask, Green Velvet, Jewel Alocasia, Alocasia Polly, or Alocasia Alligator and commercial growers have sold it as Alocasia Frydek and as Alocasia Maxkowskii.

Botanical gardens rarely list hybrid plants on their website but if you do an internet search you will find the National Botanic Garden of Belgium plus some  "official" sources including the University of Connecticut and the USDA list the plant as Alocasia x Amazonica  André.   Unless I've got my facts totally wrong "André" refers to botanist André Michaux who lived from 1746 to 1802.

Since Alocasia Amazonica is not a species and at least the plant we know by the name Alocasia Amazonica today wasn't even hybridized until the 1930's are they talking about the same plant?  How could it be the same hybrid if botanist André Michaux wrote about it before his death in 1802?

Now, for some background for those on the forum that don't normally dig into this kind of "plant mystery":

Alocasia Amazonica is not a species and has never been described to science  It does not grow naturally in any native rain forest,is not from the Amazon.  The name should never be used in either the italicized form or with single quotations since it is neither a published species nor a registered cultivar. With the help of John Banta our friend author and expert Julius Boos was able to trace the hybrid to a nursery owner who during the 1930's and 1940's owned a now defunct nursery in the Miami. The nursery was known as the "Amazon Nursery" and the grower is said to have named Alocasia Amazonica after his own business. The name has since been used by growers for over 70 years.

Just in case you are confused, Alocasia species are all naturally found in the geographical region composed of Southeast Asia and neighboring island nations of the Pacific Ocean including the Philippines. No Alocasia species has ever been found naturally in Central or South America including the Amazon basin although species have been imported as well as set free and now thrive in the area.

Just in case one of our members believes Alocasia Amazonica is a species here are three scientific data bases.  You won't find Alocasia Amazonica on any.

The Royal Botanic Garden Kew, London: http://www.ipni.org/index.html The Missouri Botanical Garden: http://www.tropicos.org/ World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/qsearch.do

Still, it is listed on the National Botanic Garden of Belgium website:  http://www.br.fgov.be/RESEARCH/COLLECTIONS/LIVING/LIVCOL/list/l_113.html
and credited to André.  Some experts believe the plant did not originate in Miami and likely was originally bred in Belgium, France or England since it is mentioned in Burnetts 'Cultivated Alocasia'.  I don't have access to that publication so I can't check out the sources.  If it was hybridized in Europe, who did it?  When?  Was André Michaux involved?  Did he write about it?  If so, where are his papers and more importantly, is it the same plant we grow?

Are we talking about the same hybrid or was there a plant hybridized before 1800 in England, France or Belgium that also used the name Alocasia x Amazonica which was copied by the grower in Miami?

I can normally figure these "mysteries" out with the help of Julius, Leland, Tom and Pete as well as some of our other esteemed botanists but this one has me stumped.  Josef, David, Wilbert and Simon, since you are in Europe do you know anything about this?  I'd really like to understand where the name originated and if we are talking about the same plant that is commonly tissue cultured and grown today.



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