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Trying to get the names right Part 2

Apart from the ongoing fight between lumpers and splitters dividing the botanical world what is really interesting is that in certain plant species infinitesimal variations of minor morphological features have a cascading effect on ad-hoc production of new names by people not really entitled to have a say here like enthusiasts, some nursery men, and most plant traders - in total contrast to the strict botanical criteria for defining species, making everything even more difficult. Ralph Martin sums up this aspect: A more valid reason for multiple names is that keen observation has resulted in plants with very small differences in appearance being given a different name for each slightly different form. While this may be helpful to growers, who want to know exactly what they will get when they order a plant or some seeds, it is frowned upon by the professional botanists who prefer to look at the big picture, and emphasise similarities rather than differences. (Ralph Martin - Whats in a Name? A Look at Rebutia heliosa, 2003)

1. Rebutia (Aylostera) pseudoheliosa, posing as new species. (Photo & collection: Marius Bruno Banciu)

Such a plant that has caused some debate in 2005 2006 was Rebutia pseudoheliosa, traded mostly in flea markets of Central and Eastern Europe at that time. To that part of the world Rebutia Page 1

pseudoheliosa (sometimes named Aylostera pseudoheliosa ) was introduced by a Romanian cacti enthusiast after a plant exchange with the Botanical Garden of Gttingen University (Germany). Initially he claimed this was a newly discovered species, later on when this fact was questioned and the name ridiculed he downgraded the plant to a natural hybrid. Even so, the reputable source of his plant stock assured certain popularity among cacti enthusiasts. However, few years later the name has almost disappeared. Ralph Martin (in Whats in a Name? A Look at Rebutia heliosa, 2003) acknowledges a certain resemblance with Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis but considers that the latter name [Rebutia pseudoheliosa] does not appear in Pilbeams book on Rebutias, and while it may have been validly published, it is also possible it was made up on the spot by some nurseryman keen to sell more plants! No need to say that it wasnt validly published and that Ralph Martin was really spot on.

2. Rebutia (Aylostera) pseudoheliosa shows little variation from our mystery plant, except the somewhat shorter spination. (Photo & collection: Eduart Zimer)

In fact this name appears to have been in use for quite some time and from what I know it was mentioned for the first time in B. Fearns book The Genus Rebutia back in 1981. Fearn specifies that Rebutia pseudoheliosa is a nomen nudum but assigns it on page 66 to Rebutia albopectinata (Lau 401) although on page 38 he correctly states that Lau 401 is in fact Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis. Page 2

Browsing the Internet you may find that Rebutia Lau 401 was assigned in error to Rebutia narvaecensis as well. Is Rebutia pseudoheliosa really originating from Lau 401 stock? We will probably never know. From what I can see the plant is just slightly different from Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis mainly because of the somewhat longer and curlier spines but I reckon it should be included here. Well, for old times sake we could maybe call it Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis Pseudoheliosa but I would keep quiet about the newly discovered species or natural hybrid stuff * * *

However, sometimes plants you consider being obscure hybrids are in fact very interesting natural forms masquerading under commercial names, especially when long and complicated Latin names would scare away most potential buyers... this is the story of Crassula David. Some months ago I came across this plant being offered for sale at Mitre 10. A nice little gem having the appearance of a groundcover, filling a 12 cm pot. Label reads Crassula David hmmm never heard of it but no second thoughts and I bought it straight away. Initially I was convinced that it is an obscure cultivar or hybrid of some sort wearing a very unfortunate and unimaginative name, or even worse a misnomer.

3 . Crassula David - a flowering plant. (Photo & collection: Michel Bourhis)

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After a while I started to check the internet for some information but, unless there was a global conspiracy directed against me or this plant, no reference was available if we exclude a couple of Japanese threads. At the same time I couldnt find matching Crassula pictures on the internet, no matter the name (I didnt even know exactly what I was looking for to be honest) so that I raised a question on the International Crassulaceae Network forum. This was the start of an international effort to clarify the status of this plant. Thanks to Margrit Bischofberger (who started the investigation by involving Australian contacts), Noelene Tomlinson (who also published a very interesting article in the August issue of Spinette - Journal of The Cactus and Succulent Society of Australia), the nurseryman Max Holmes (who knew the story of this plant and also provided the exact ID), and Michel Bourhis (who kindly provided excellent pictures of the flower) things have come together and weve been able to link a real name to this plant.

4. Crassula David - leaf detail with the long silvery cilia. (Photo & collection: Eduart Zimer)

Very surprisingly, Crassula David is not a horticultural hybrid, nor a misnomer. It is a natural form collected by David Cumming probably somewhere in the northern parts of Cape Province, South Africa, and shortly after this acquired by Rudolf Schulz and named Crassula David in honour of its discoverer. Few years later maybe 1985-87 the name appeared in his nurseries catalogue and started to be distributed in Australia. At some stage Crassula David certainly reached Japan Page 4

(probably well before 2005) and also Europe later on, but not because of being marketed there, but due to private seedling purchases on eBay from Japan! However, it is unclear who introduced this plant in New Zealand and when. A short talk with Roger White, the manager of Seaview nurseries, who is currently propagating this plant, revealed that he bought the stock back in 2005 or 2006 from Kings Plant Barn, but unfortunately doesnt remember the nursery or propagator the plants came from. However, being already mass propagated and sold in garden centers by 2005 means that it could have been introduced to New Zealand anytime in the very early 2000s or late 1990s if not earlier.
5. - 6 . Crassula David - flower detail (left); the characteristic appendices on the lobes (below). (Photos: Michel Bourhis)

But more important than all this is the ID. Margrit Bischofberger who also grows Crassula lanuginosa var. pachystemon recognized quickly the same growing habit and a certain resemblance to this species, however there was a problem the long cilia along the leaf margins which didnt match to her plant. However, her suspicion was confirmed later on by Max Holmes who is placing Crassula David without any doubt within Crassula lanuginosa var. pachystemon based on the floral characteristics, but considers it a distinctive form especially because of the much longer cilia than usual. Therefore the correct name for this plant would be Crassula lanuginosa var. pachystemon David, unfortunately as someone mentioned too long and too complicated to be written on tags in a busy high volume low value nursery. Its not the aim of this series to share cultural notes or give advice in this matter, but given the interest I have for this plant I would like to make an exception here. It was said that Crassula David is not the easiest to grow in Australia. I also have seen it dying back during the warm late summer months and there was probably a chance of losing it if I wouldnt have done something. I think it is because of heat, direct sunlight and lack of water, all in excessive doses. Good light maintains a compact growth for this plant, but overdoing can be deadly I think. In very strong light the leaves gain a red-brownish colour which you should take as a warning. Another important factor is water I think it needs a rather constant supply of moisture, even in winter. Luckily it comes back very easy, the smallest loose stem

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sends out roots and new growth if theres some moisture available for few days. I see this plant outdoor capable in a sheltered position at least in Auckland and Northland.

7. - 8. Crassula David plants prepared for delivery at Seaview Nurseries (left); Roger White, the Manager of Seaview Nurseries, is the man who has propagated and distributed the plan in recent years (right). (Photos: Eduart Zimer)

Eduart Zimer, August September 2011

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