Vol. 12, #2

June 1, 2012



Hoya graveolens Kerr 

Photograph by David Liddle.  It is his IML-1513



Hoya graveolens Kerr

Photo by Dr. Obchant Thaithong


           I was given a colour copy of  the Hoya graveolens Kerr holotype specimen by David Liddle.  Most of the leaves on this specimen don’t appear much different than those on the Hoya oreogena type specimen but there is a very thin envelope attached.  The envelope is so thin that the outlines of three leaves are visible and a tip of one of those three leaves extends outside the envelope.  The tips of those leaves are extremely sharply pointed, just as the leaves on IML-1513 are. 

I obtained a cutting of this from David Liddle and it was labeled Hoya oreogena. I am 100% certain that this is not Hoya oreogena.  I am almost 100% sure that the one David Liddle sold me labeled Hoya graveolens is Hoya oreogena.  Well, at least 99% sure.

           When I first obtained material of Hoya graveolens (from my friend, Chanin Thorut) in 1995, I speculated, in The Hoyan, that it might be a natural hybrid between Hoya carnosa and Hoya shepherdii.  I no longer think that, but stranger things have been proven true. 

            David Liddle and I discussed this one in correspondence.  He told me that he found the published descriptions of the two species very confusing.  I found the published description of Hoya graveolens to be just about the least confusing of all published hoya descriptions --- so clear, in fact, that I made a drawing of the leaves and of a single corona that proved to be 100% accurate when compared to the leaves and flowers on Kerr’s holotype specimen.  I made those drawings 35 years before seeing the picture of Kerr’s holotype specimen, sent to me by David Liddle (Kerr’s 4245).

           David told me that he’d seen flowers of only one of the two species under discussion.  He did not say which one it was.  I asked but he died before my question reached him, or so soon afterward that there was no time for a reply.

           My 35 year old drawings (based on the published description ) of Hoya oreogena were not as accurate as those I’d made of Hoya graveolens, at least the leaf drawing wasn’t but the flower corona drawing I make then was “right on the button.”

           I have not seen flowers on IML-1214, which I got from David Liddle with the label Hoya graveolens  but I believe that it is Hoya oreogena.  I have never seen living hoya foliage that looked so closely like the foliage on a holotype herbarium specimen.  At my age, I don’t expect that I’ll live long enough to see many of my newer hoya acquisitions bloom, but if I have a guardian angel up there, I hope he (or she) will make this one bloom while I’m still living and can see and smell!

           To sum it all up.  I am 99 & 99% sure that David Liddle reversed the labeling on these to species and that the following is true:

                                   IML-1513 = Hoya graveolens

                                   IML-1214 =Hoya oreogena.



Hoya graveolens Kerr

The above picture belongs to Sutthisak.  He said I could use it provided I give credit to the person who took the picture for him.  The photograph was taken by Dr. Piyakaset Suksatan of the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden.


           P. S.  On the back of a picture of this species (the one used in The Hoyan 16:3 (1995), Chanin Thorut wrote, “The smell is not quite bad; for someone may be a kind of nice pleasant scent.  In my opinion the smell is like that of Ted’s Hoya arnottiana.”  That doesn’t surprise me.  I think scent is something that can be compared to beauty.  As beauty is said to be ‘in the eye of the beholder,” so scent is in the “nose of the smeller!”  I say that because I know a lot of people who tell me that they love the scent of Hoya carnosa, which to me smells like an unwashed body that someone doused with cheap, dime store perfume in an futile effort to cover up a bad case of B.O.



What’s wrong with the two leaves pictured below?


I do not know whose pictures these are.  If I did, I’d give them credit.  They were sent to me by a friend who said that she saw them on some forum.  She didn’t say which one and I don’t have the time to hunt for them on any forum.  The person who sent them said that they were Hoya dimorpha leaves and that most of the forum members were of the opinion that these were healthy leaves from healthy plants.  She didn’t think they looked like Hoya dimorpha leaves and wanted to know my opinion.  Neither looks like a Hoya dimorpha  leaf to me either.  If I were guessing, based on the leaf shape alone (something I don’t often do and don’t recommend that others do), my guess would be that the leaf on the left is more likely Hoya flavescens or Hoya solaniflora.  The leaf on the right is a complete mystery to me.

My opinion is that the two leaves are not healthy.  The one on the left appears to me to be likely suffering from a virus of some sort.  I could be wrong.  It just has that look about it. 




           The  leaf  on the right looks as if the outer half of it had been chewed off by insects before it was fully developed.  The leaf margins appear to have been chewed on too.  I also believe that the discoloration at the leaf base and in several other location on the leaf is due to sunburn.  I suspect that the leaf was wet and close to a glass cover.  The sun shining through glass on a leaf that has water droplets on top often burns.



Not About Hoyas, Except Indirectly



           I suspect that all of you have seen the pictured watering bulbs advertised on TV;  in numerous mail order catalogs, and in the garden shops at Home Depot, Lowe’s, at yard and garage sales and flea markets.  As advertised, they sound like a lazy houseplant growers answer to all of his or her prayers.

           If you succumbed and bought some of these, as I did, you already know what the manufacturer and all the sellers of these water bulbs don’t want you to know and that is that they are nothing but TROUBLE, with a capital T!!!

           If you haven’t bought any yet but have been considering doing so, be warned.  They must be stuck into the soil which they water by having the water in the bulb descend through the long tubes.  When sticking the tubes in the soil, the tubes are filled with soil, which plugs up the tubes.  When the bulbs are empty, you must get a very long pipe cleaner (or something similar) to clean out the tube, so that you can refill the bulb with water.  Be warned that if you insert the tube in the same place as before, it will immediately empty its water because there won’t be any soil in that place to plug up the tube so that the water flow will be slowed down.  Move it to another place.  After several clean outs and refills you’ll notice that the plant in starting to decline.  Why?  You’ve removed most of the soil in the pot.  Nowhere in the directions were you told that you’d have to refill all those holes you made because you’ve left your plant’s roots in an open air condition where water just passes through, leaving the roots to dry out in the open air.

           If your sewage system is a septic tank (as mine is), every time you clean out those bulbs, you’ll be sending dirt, pebbles, vermiculite and whatever solids are in your mix, directly to your septic tank.  Rid-X will dissolve normal sewage and keep you system clean and working smoothly but nothing will dissolve dirt, gravel, vermiculite and whatever other solids are found in potting soil.  

           If you still think those water bulbs are desirable, remember to add new potting mix to your flower pot or hanging basket, each time you need to clean and refill the bulbs and, if your sewage system is a septic tank, take the bulbs outdoors to clean and refill them so that you don’t fill your septic tank with dirt.  Even if you have municipal sewage disposal, your city will thank you for outdoor clean up as a lot of solids could plug up sewage lines and cause trouble at the city’s water works.

           My opinion is that those water bulbs are just a big pain in the U-KNOW.



E-Bay Sellers’  Crazy Mixed UP  Labeling


           I don’t bother checking E-Bay during the winter months because I neither buy nor sell when it’s too cold to ship without shipping costs skyrocketing to several times the price paid for the cutting or plant.  Since spring appears to have arrived here (day temps up to 82 F yesterday  - March 14), I checked out E-Bay and was a bit horrified by what I found.  Following are some of the worst claims I saw there:

           1).  Plain old, very common, Hoya carnosa was described as “Rare Succulent Flower Cactus.”  I see two errors in that description.  First, there is nothing rare about it.  It’s as common as dirt.  It isn’t even in the same family as a Cactus.  Being the ogre that some hoya collectors call me, I’d be inclined to call the describer an idiot but I just found out what idiot really means.  The word idiot is said to come from the Greek “idiots,” meaning “one who does not hold public office.”  I’m sure the name idiot would be true but wouldn’t describe this E-Bay seller so I’ll just have to settle for “ignoramus.”

           2). A Hoya australis   “Mrs. G.” described as “A NEW CULTIVAR.”  (Upper case mine.).  In the first place it is not a cultivar and in the second place, it is not new.  It is a hoya that was listed in Hoya sellers’ catalogs as long as 35 years ago.  I got it from a lady somewhere out west.  Her name was Arndt.  This one was discussed in several Hoya Society International Robins where the “Mrs. G.”  was reported to have been attached to a hoya long grown by the lady who’d lost the label but knew she’d gotten it from her friend, Mrs. G.    She mentioned in the robin the name the G. stood for but I don’t remember.  She labeled her plant Mrs. G., intending to consult Mrs. G. about identity of the plant but, I reckon she never got around to it.  The plant I got from Mrs. Arndt looked to me very much like Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes.  Calling a plant whose label got lost by the name of the person who gave it to you is in the same category as that hoya the Swedes call, Hoya Pig Sty, which is obviously something that came up in the pig sty of some Swedish Swine grower.  It likely came from a cutting that the Swine grower tossed in the garbage and the garbage was fed to the pigs.  The pigs apparently didn’t find hoya trimmings palatable but the hoya trimmings found the earth of the pig sty to be very hospitable so it took up residence there.  Unfortunately, the Swine grower rescued it from the pig sty before the long Swedish winter arrived and gave it to a visitor who labeled it for the place it had taken root because trimmings in garbage fed to pigs don’t have labels on them and nobody could figure out just what species it was.  By now, it has probably bloomed and the mystery is solved for some.  Too bad the pig sty owner didn’t destroy that cutting or keep it until it bloomed and could be identified because, once a plant gets into circulation with a wrong or frivolous name, it will never go away.  And, friends, please do a bit of checking before labeling something “a new cultivar.”  Just because you never heard of it before doesn’t mean it is new.  It may, as in this case, only mean that you are new to this hobby.

           3).  A hoya was listed (and pictured) as Hoya carnosa Rubia.   There is no such hoya.  There is a Hoya carnosa cv. Rubra (trade name, Krimson Princess).  Regardless, the hoya pictured on this E-Bay ad  is Hoya carnosa variegata,  syn. Hoya carnosa Tri-color (trade name, Krimson Queen). The way to tell the difference is, “Leaf margins white, variegata (or Tri-color).  Leaf margins green Rubra.


           4). One grower Identified as “Green Thumb” something or other, has about 100 listings, advertised a Hoya pubifera.  “Friends, Romans and Countrymen (women too),  How many times and to how many people will I (and other knowledgeable people) have to tell this person (and others of his ilk) that what he has IS NOT Hoya pubifera?  See more about this species below.

           5) A Czech seller lists and pictures a clone of what I believe is Hoya diversifolia mislabeled as Hoya gonoloboides.  Again, How many times will I and other knowledgeable hoya people have to warn the public that what they are getting is not what is advertised.  See, PS-TheHoyan, Vol. 2, #1, for a picture of Hoya gonoloboides, which isn’t even a hoya.  Once a name is validly published, it cannot be used for a different plant, even when the original is proved to be something else. The Code doesn’t allow it.

           6). A hoya advertised as Hoya densifolia is actually Hoya cumingiana.  The only known (at this time) collection of Hoya densifolia does not have flowers like those pictured.  It’s coronas are the same colour as the corollas and differently shaped.

           7).  Many hoyas that I suspect are Hoya callistophylla advertised as Hoya finlaysonii.  The true Hoya finlaysonii  has rather plain, dull looking leaves (leaf veins practically invisible with leaf margins extremely finely serrated).

           8).  The following names were misspelled, “onychiodes” for onychoides; and “neobudica”  for neoebudica.

           9).  The following fictitious name on eBay on May 13 Hoya sulawesii.  Friends, there is no such hoya species and there isn’t likely to ever be a hoya by that name.  How do I know?  By the spelling, that’s how I know.  The Code dictates that species names ending in “ii” are named for the collector of the holotype species.  There is no hoya collector named “Sulawes.”  Sulawesi is a place (the Celebes) not a person.  If there were a hoya named for that place, it would be named “sulawesiensis.”  The hoya pictured appears to me to be either Hoya brevialata or Hoya myrmecopa, two very similar appearing hoyas when not blooming, though the latter’s leaves are usually slightly larger.





I’m really behind in my reporting, having started this in January.  Today (May 10) I saw another example of mislabeling on eBay that really shocked me.  This one is the perfect example of, “Once a wrong label is put on something, no matter how much time passes, it just won’t go away.

Back in the 1960s when I first started seriously collecting hoyas, there were only a couple of hoya sources in US with more than two or three species.  The one with the longest list was Loyce Andrews.  She sold a hoya which she called Hoya imperialis.  Loyce’s Hoya imperialis was actually, Hoya globulosa.  Today, on eBay, I saw a picture of Hoya globulosa and it was being offered for sale mislabeled as Hoya imperialis!!!!!  Buyer, Beware!!



                                   Word Definitions Change Over Time


           While looking for something else, I came upon a copy of page 62 of the  May 1840 issue of The Cottage Gardener.  I’d made a copy of it years ago as it had a paragraph about Hoya carnosa.  I thought readers of this site might find it interesting and since most of you will not find it easy to find a copy without traveling many miles to a botanical library that has a copy, I decided to copy that paragraph here and add a few comments of my own.

           Here is the Cottage Gardener paragraph:

                       Hoya carnosa (J. Styan), -- This is anything but a greenhouse plant, though it will live well enough in a common window in winter if kept dry like a cactus.  To flower it well it requires forcing like a vine from the end of March to July, and even a pine-stove would suit it better than a vinery while growing; therefore, although it may live and look green, as you say, and even produce a few flowers in a low temperature, yet it is only throwing time and space away to keep it otherwise than as a stove plant.”


My comments: 

           1).  I haven’t a clue as to what the “J. Styan” means.   2).  I find it an excellent greenhouse subject so I can only conclude that in 1840 that greenhouses were unheated  (glass ?? for catching daytime heat but sans heat at night).  If that is true, then a greenhouse in my climate would (and did once) result in every plant in it freezing.  3).  I wasn’t able to figure out the difference between a greenhouse and a vinery. 4).  It appears that what we now know as a greenhouse was what was called a “stove house” in 1840 i.e., a heated greenhouse.

           These few different definitions of words we use in connection with our hobby of growing tropical plants makes me wonder how many other words in our Hoya name publications and descriptions may have changed since those published in English (before the code required Latin) were first written. It makes me wish I were 50 years younger so I could take the time to go back to school and get a degree in the “History of  the English Language.”  Don’t know if such a course is offered anywhere but, if not, it should be.



Have aliens from outer space started selling on eBay?


           Today is April 20, 2012.  I was hoping to find a old favorite hoya on eBay  (One that seems that no one still has) when I happened upon some very funny and some very strange ads.  The one that really tickled my funny bone said, “Hoya incrassata Fragrant USA Seller.”  I wonder, is that USA seller really named Hoya incrassata  and is he fragrant naturally or does he wear Chanel #5 (or whatever perfume is the current favorite)?

           The really strange one probably pointed out the fact that I am just an old fogy  who needs to do some catching up.  I say that because the ad I saw had 4 bids already so I conclude that either I’m out of tune with the times or those bidders are from Mars.  The ad reads, “5 different UR cuttings, miniatures GR8 LF & Fl!”  Now I think I’ve figured out that UR probably means “unrooted” but the rest I’m not sure of.  What do people have against using plain English nowadays?  Could it be because they flunked spelling when they were in grammar school but got promoted because the law said “No child should be left behind!  This mean old ogre would have flunked them until they were in their second childhood and likely great  grandparents with flunking great grandchildren.

           Another thing that puzzled me.  How can  one put wee little pots with no top growth and only 3 to 4 leaves showing and claim that it is a pot with 2, 3 or 4 plants?  I rarely put just one cutting into a pot. If I do it has to be something extremely rare.  I (and everyone I’ve bought from) put several cuttings in the same small pot and call it one plant.  Most of those so-called 3 and 4 plant pots don’t show any new top growth, which makes me wonder if they have  even become firmly rooted yet. 

           I saw one that was advertised as  a Hoya carnosa with heart shaped leaves.  There was one leaf pictured that was almost heart shaped.  A second leaf was roundish and looked to have become roundish by having been chewed upon by something that had, perhaps altered the shape from elliptic to roundish.  Running out from behind that more or less heart-shaped leaf was a new shoot sporting a couple of elliptical shaped leaves.  The plant was obviously Hoya carnosa variegata and had already reverted.  It is very doubtful that the buyer (if one is sucker enough to buy it) will ever see another heart shaped leaf on that wee plant. I was reminded of that Arndt woman who advertised a “heart shaped leaf Hoya carnosa variegata back in the late 1960s or early 1970s.  Not knowing better, I ordered one and got a nice large plant of Hoya carnosa variegata with not a single heart shaped leaf on it.  I wrote her and complained.  She replied, “My plant got ‘A’ (upper case mine) leaf on it so that proves it is capable of producing heart shaped leaves.”  Dumb broad!  I’ve found heart shaped leaves on just about every leaf producing plant species I’ve ever seen.  That doesn’t mean anything except that something happened to injure the leaf tip during its embryonic stage.  One can’t consider (and has no business advertising a thing as “heart shaped” unless one finds entire branches that are covered with heart shaped leaves which, when removed from the parent plant continue to grow heart shaped leaves.  Even then, one must be diligent in pruning out any non heart –shaped leaves that appear on the plant or it will revert.                

           Another ad was for what the seller called a “NEW cultivar” named Chelsea.  Friends, that cultivar is NOT new.  I’ve had it for more than 12 years myself.  What’s more it was previously given another name by its creator (or rather the one who owned the plant that sported and became this cultivar).  I don’t know the truth of the story but I’m told that it was named for that fellow’s “significant other.”  She dumped him (or so my informant said) so he changed the name to Chelsea, his new “significant other.”   This is forbidden by the Code for Cultivated Plants.  Unfortunately, most of the people creating new names and selling on eBay are completely unaware that there is such a Code. Worse yet, it’s a shame the people bidding on these plants don’t know when they’re not getting what they’ve bid on.





           I keep bumping into this species and let me tell you, this name has become one of my biggest headaches.  As I’ve said on these pages before, “IT IS NOT Hoya pubifera.  IML-1301 is a Liddle number.  It is a plant that David Liddle got from David Cumming  as DMC5574.  It differs from Hoya pubifera in being completely bald—not a hair on in.  “So,“ you may ask, “what’s new about this that you feel compelled to bore us further?” 

           The thing that is “new” but not really new is that I found a folder of pictures that George Slusser and I had made of flowers of IML-1301  several years ago.  It was misfiled but  I stumbled on it when trying to catch up on my filing.  In the folder I found a life size picture of Elmer’s authentic specimen (the one intended to be his holotype had his publication been valid).  It had been deposited in Gray Herbarium of Harvard University.    In the folder, I found several letters from David Liddle concerning his IML-1301.  As late as 2008, he told me that he had not yet seen its flowers.  I found three pictures of blooming plants said to be IML-1301.  One was a picture posted on eBay by Carol Noel.  She showed two photos.  One was a blooming plant and the other a close up umbel  with flowers that had very dark purplish red corollas and coronas of the same colour.  Another picture labeled IML-1301 was sent to me by Michael Miyashiro.  It shows flowers with pale pink corollas and white coronas with a dark red circle in the center.

           To make matters worse, my notes from the 1980’s tell me that I got the one that eventually became Hoya burtoniae mislabeled as Hoya pubifera.  And, as I noted before, the name Hoya pubifera was not validly published.  2). The invalid publication cited as type* a plant that has puberous foliage and not a single flower on it.  Also the English language publication states that the author never saw any flowers so it isn’t known if the plant is even a hoya.  Lots of other species in other genera have foliage that looks exactly like hoya foliage so it is possibly one of them.  3).  The hoya offered for sale here and other places is NOT Hoya pubifera.  It is probably IML-1301, which the Liddle Nursery calls “aff. pubifera”… a designation which I disapprove of too because all the newbies I ever met have, at least in the past, dropped the “aff” off of plants that came to them labeled “aff,”  and assumed that the name following the “aff.’ was the true species name.  Before his death, I discussed this with David Liddle who wrote back, saying that he knew it wasn’t Hoya pubifera but that it fit in there somewhere.  He was a friend of about 40 years standing but I disagreed with him on this labeling.  It’s nice to have friends that you can disagree with and still remain friends.  Had he lived, I’m sure that, as always in the past, we’d have figured this one out.  I really miss hearing from David, and Douglas, and George.  I’m beginning to feel like that character in the O’Henry short story, “The last leaf on the vine.”

           * Note:  Since a well known taxonomist corrected me last time I made this error, I’ll share what he said, “Until a species is validly published, it doesn’t have a “type” specimen; it only has an “authentic specimen.”  That makes the “type” designated by Elmer not a type but “an authentic specimen.”



Hoya sp. IML-1508 from Ko Chung, Thailand


Photo by Christine M. Burton

I found this umbel open on April 24, 3012. My camera isn’t “state of the art” so the yellow pollinia in center of corona lobes show up in picture as being darker than they are on the living plant.


           Friends, this is a “Plain Jane” hoya but it has one redeeming feature that I think many of you will want. Its scent is heavenly but be warned, it may be a bit fattening.  No, you don’t eat it but, if you’re like me and you smell the heavenly scent of just baked cinnamon cookies, you might make tracks to the kitchen and start baking.  I was really tempted but I resisted.  Unlike many hoyas that are only night fragrant, this one was very strongly scented at 11 a.m.  The flowers are solid white with the only colour showing being the yellow pollinia in the center of the corona.

           You may have seen one on the Mark Randall’s Stemma web page.  He labeled his IML-1508?.  He was correct to question that because his is not IML-1508.  I know this because David Liddle sent me a full page picture of IML-1508, showing a portion of a flowering plant; individual flower parts and a huge umbel of flowers just like those in my picture.  His picture was much nicer and he said I could use it but I prefer to use my own pictures when I have them.

           The leaves of this one are trinerved but the nerves are  so faint that they appear to have no veins at all.  The  midrib is visible on top but the two ascending side nerves can be seen very faintly, only on the undersides of the leaves and more easily when the leaves are pressed and dried..

           If a pleasant scent is what you seek when you obtain a hoya, I believe you’ll like this one.



Above: A portion of the page of IML-1508 pictures given to me by David Liddle (with permission to use).