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Re: Look Alike Hostas

Daniel Nelson wrote:

>  It would
> also take the profit out of people introducing look alike hostas.

And now, just to start something, I offer a differing opinion on look-alike
hostas.  And since I am a culprit, this may not be totally unbiased.

As a practical matter, I think it is totally unavoidable and a permanent part of
hosta collecting.  And I'm not so sure that it is all that terrible.  An
A couple of years ago, I introduced 'Uncle Albert', a sport of 'Francee' that I
listed as being very similar to 'Patriot' and 'Minuteman' except that the
variegation was cream colored or pale yellow, rather than white.  When I found
the plant, I had no intention of introducing it, but when people started asking
whether they could have 'Uncle Albert' instead of 'Patriot' I had a problem.

Granting that the value of the color variation was in the eyes of the beholder,
I had to make a choice.  First, I could just call it 'Patriot', but it wasn't.
If it got into production as 'Patriot', some who preferred the white edge were
going to get something they didn't want.  Second, I could discard it and refuse
to let anyone have it.  I had a problem with that because some people had
expressed a preference for 'Uncle Albert' over 'Patriot' (and admittedly some
said they couldn't tell the difference).  Should any plant with just a slight
improvement over an older variety be discarded because the difference isn't
striking?  An argument could just as easily be made for discarding the older
variety.  The third option, was to name it, describe it truthfully as I could,
and promise myself that I would never force anyone to buy it.  And that's what I
did.  Except that I couldn't help myself once last spring when this frail little
old lady came in and said it looked just like 'Patriot'.  I made her buy it
anyway.  Sometimes I just go nuts with power.

A long story to make the point - sometimes improvements, if they can be called
that, come in small degrees and result in similar hostas being offered.  You may
like one, I may like the other.  I think the answer is as follows:  if two
hostas are similar in appearance, don't buy both of them unless you want two
similar hostas.

It is a problem with roses, daylilies, heucheras, liriopes, and many other
plants, and it's always going to be a problem with hostas.  I think having
information about look-alikes available is a good idea, but it might also be a
good idea to at least mention the presumed differences.


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