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The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica By John Banta]]

  • Subject: The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica By John Banta]]
  • From: ExoticRainforest <Steve@exoticrainforest.com>
  • Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 11:53:25 -0600

The myth just got worse!

I was digging to learn more about the parents and found both Alocasia watsoniana Hort. and Alocasia sanderiana Hort. are horticultural names according to the International Plant Names Index!  I know Alocasia watsoniana is truly Alocasia longiloba but what is sanderiana?


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica By John Banta]
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 10:54:50 -0600
From: ExoticRainforest <Steve@ExoticRainforest.com>
Reply-To: Steve@ExoticRainforest.com
To: Discussion of aroids <aroid-l@gizmoworks.com>

Below are the facts about the origination of Alocasia Amazonica as related by long time International Aroid Society member John
Banta.  For those that are not unacquainted with the names in John's information these are some of the original founders of
the IAS.  John is considered somewhat "legendary" as a grower and has often been lovingly known as "The Banta".  In addition,
although not mentioned in John's piece, both John and I want to credit Julius Boos for his input.  Julius has tried for years to correct the misconceptions about this plant.  If there is a living legendary figure in the IAS other than John it would be Julius!

I now realize as a result of the help of many of you what we know as Alocasia Amazonica is likely a variety of hybrid plants, not necessarily the original as John describes.  Some have a velvet appearance while others do not so different parents must be involved.

Still, I can't figure out why the plant is credited to
Edouard F André on the National Botanic Garden of Belgium website.  Someone in Europe that can has access to their records is going to have to explain that part.


The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica
By John Banta

I guess that it is just another burden that old men must endure. We see facts known to us as true replaced  by logical myths.

Unfortunately, Monroe Birdsey, Bob See and Ralph Davis whom all knew Salvadore  Mauro, a great plantsman are all dead.
I was fortunate enough to have visited Sam’s nursery with Monroe. The visit was a result of my questioning Monroe why in the
world an Asiatic genus, Alocasia, was given the name, ‘Amazonica’?  Monroe’s skill in teaching is illustrated by his
response. He made a phone call and then insisted that I accompany him to a friend’s nursery. We drove out to near the Miami
airport. Sam lived  on about a quarter acre lot just off  36th  Street.  Behind his small house was a large (about 20X30 foot
cement block  enclosure  roofed  over with snow fencing. ( for those of you who have never lived in snow country; snow 
fencing is about 4 feet tall and composed of 1 inch wide wooden slats woven  together with 14 gauge galvanized wire leaving
about  a 1 inch gap between the slats.) His growing area was magical, the cement blocks were covered with algae, moss and
ferns and the benches crowded with beautifully grown foliage plants such as Homalomena wallisi ‘ Mauro’ that he introduced in
the 1950's. Sam was killed in an automobile accident while at work as a postman on one  of the three wheeled  motor bikes
used back in those days. Well, back to our story. As we approached a bench  of Alocasias I asked Sam how Alocasia amazonica got it’s name. He answered ,” I guess it could have been named for a nursery!”

I asked who made the hybrid?  Sam and Monroe had a good laugh at my expense. I had not noticed the small sign as we entered; ‘Amazon Nursery’ I asked what the parents were.  Sam’s smile quickly darkened. He was upset that it was erroneously reported
to be A. sanderiana X a. lowii whereas it was in reality A. sanderiana X watsoniana. Years later I remade the hybrid as Sam
suggested I should to verify the parents. All of the seedlings came up as easily identified as A. “Amazonica”.  I believe
without a doubt that the true origin of Alocasia Amazonica was in Sam’s nursery in the 1950's. 

I only wish that some of our departed plantsmen were still around for more reasons than to vouch  for Sam’s accomplishments.

fn:Steve  Lucas

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