PS-The Hoyan

Vol. 8, #4

Late-July, 2009



Hoya latifolia G. Don


Question: What hoya is Hoya latifolia G. Don? Mr. Green sells one species as Hoya latifolia and you sell a different one, as does Mr. Liddle. Mr. Green says that the one you sell as Hoya latifolia is really, Hoya loycesandrewsiana and that you are “wrong, wrong, wrong.” He also says that both Hoya macrophylla and Hoya polystachya are synonyms of Hoya latifolia. What say you?--- Asked by just about enough of you to populate a city the size of Atlanta.


Answer: Mr. Green is, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! Have you ever noticed, as I have, that Mr. Green is almost always very dogmatic in asserting what something is or isn’t but he never documents his assertions? Not once in the 30 plus years that I have been acquainted with him has he ever presented any proof of his assertions, nor even attempted to do so. His attitude seems to be, “I said it; therefore it IS! Reminds me of my mean-old-mother-in-law who on being given the facts (by me, a lowly Presbyterian) that the “Immaculate Conception,” celebrated by the Catholic Church was the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, not the conception of Jesus (my reply to her when she wondered out loud how Jesus could be conceived in August and born in December) replied, “Oh, no you are wrong. I could not believe that and be a Catholic. I am a Catholic, therefore it is not so!”

I get the impression that, like my mean-old-mother-in-law, Ted Green seems to think that because HE says something that his saying it is all the proof anyone should expect! Get real St. Ted. Your word is proof of only one thing. That is that your mouth is open! If you think that the hoya you are selling as Hoya latifolia is the correct one, show us your proof?

Unlike you, Mr. Green, when I say that you are, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!!!!!, I always present facts to back up my allegations. A few of those facts follow.

Mr. Green, I once (or twice or a hundred times – well, maybe not that many) heard you say (or read of you saying it) that it would be desirable if all herbarium specimens contained lots of leaves and pictures or drawings of the flowers and their parts, as that way there’d be no confusion. Last time I caught you promoting a phony as a particular species, you were selling a plant now known as Hoya clemensiorum mislabeled as Hoya phyllura. You were citing as proof that your plant was Hoya phyllura, an unidentified specimen you found in some herbarium, as if one could identity a hoya species by comparing it to an unidentified species.You were complaining all the while that most of the herbarium specimens were without leaves or flowers.* I sent you a picture of the Hoya phyllura holotype specimen which had many leaves, many flowers, and drawings of all the flower parts. It was nothing like the one you were selling mislabeled Hoya phyllura. Well I have a life-sized picture of the Hoya latifolia type specimen and it, too, has sketches of the flower parts and a couple of whole flower (except for one missing part), plus three additional flower parts. The specimen itself is twice the size of my scanner so I can only scan it in pieces: Here is the most important piece. This is Wallich’s specimen #138a. Those flowers in the center show up quite clearly on the original but my scanner is not “state of the art” so I can’t make it any clearer. Douglas Kent told me that he found the specimen in the Herbarium at Cambridge University. By the way, those flowers measure nearly 2 cm. in diameter. Your selection, which isn’t Hoya latifolia, have flowers no more than 5 or 6 mm. in diameter.





          The writing on that specimen (put there by Robert Wight) is clearer in the original photograph sent to me by the late Hon. Douglas H. Kent. The photograph doesn’t scan as clearly as I’d like. Here is what it says:

         “The specimens of this plant are defective in good flowers. Those that I had to examine were injured in the center. The stigma apparently destroyed by insects. The circumference had them contracted so far that the coronal leaflets had become erect while the corpuscles & the tooth like angles of the leaflets of the crown were drawn within the flower presenting altogether a most unusual appearance only to be accounted for by the want of the stigma and column of fruitification.”

Mr. Green’s allegation that Hoya macrophylla is a synonym for Hoya latifolia is true, HOWEVER, it is NOT Hoya macrophylla Blume that is the Hoya latifolia synonym. It is Hoya macrophylla R. Wight, that is a synonym of Hoya latifolia. Remember, folks. The author’s name is part of the official name of any plant species. Although all of us leave authors’ names off when we speak of our plants, the authors’ names, in cases like this tell us which of two or more species may have been given the same name. Only one species is entitled to the name and that is the first one given the name. Hoya macrophylla R. Wight was NOT the first one.

               Robert Wight first published this species as Hoya macrophylla R. Wight, in Contributions to the Botany of India in 1834, on page 38. He cited Wallich’s Asclepiad #138 as type of Hoya macrophylla R. Wight. Then, when George Don set about translating Wight’s publication, he realized that he’d have to give it a new name because Carl Blume had published an entirely different species as Hoya macrophylla many years earlier. Wight’s plant needed a new name as two species cannot share a name. The first name published is the only one entitled to use the name. Blume’s was first. If Hoya latifolia were the species Mr. Green says it is, we’d not be having this argument because Hoya latifolia would be a mere synonym for Hoya macrophylla Blume.

               Yes, the above is repetitious and an insult to some people. It isn’t meant to be. It’s repetitious and “down talking” because I’ve learned that in some cases if you don’t keep harping on a subject some people simply never get the point one is trying to make. It is obvious that Ted Green and Ann Wyman are as dense as two by fours when it comes to Hoya latifolia. This is at least the fourth or fifth time I’ve outlined this for them and they keep repeating and distributing their erroneous data on this species.

               I believe that Mr. Green has used the 1978 publication by R. Rintz as his source, to identify this and a number of other hoya species. Some of Rintz’s work is “right on” but some of it is completely wrong. Rintz should have never attempted to include Hoya latifolia in his monograph of Malayan Peninsula Hoyas, because he simply had no idea about what it is.

               Here are the citations upon which he based his interpretation of Hoya latifolia:

1.   Type: Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Wallich (NOT SEEN).

2.    = Hoya macrophylla Wight, Contr. 38 (1834) Type (NOT SEEN).

3.    = Hoya polystachya Blume, Mus. Bot. Lugd.-Bat.1 (1849) 45, t. 9. Type: Java, Blume, (NOT SEEN).

          Please, somebody, tell me how on earth could R. Rintz know that these plants were synonymous when he’d never seen any of them? He couldn’t, that’s how!!!!! He pulled a “Ted Green” on us in this case.

          The synonymy of Hoya latifolia G. Don is Hoya macrophylla R. Wight (NOT Hoya macrophylla Blume and NOT Hoya polystachya Blume), Hoya diversifolia L. Andrews (NOT Blume); Hoya diversifolia B, T. Green and Hoya loycesandrewsiana T. Green.

          If you have a hoya labeled as Hoya latifolia that you got from Ted Green or from anyone who got it from Ted Green, or from anyone who thinks Ted Green “KNOWS” what Hoya latifolia is, then you do NOT have Hoya latifolia. You most likely have Hoya polystachya Blume, but you could have Hoya clandestina Blume, Hoya macrophylla Blume or Hoya tjadasmalangensis Bakh. f.

          Both Wight and George Don, described the leaves as measuring from 7 to 10 inches long by from 4 to 10 inches wide. I have been growing this plant for many years. The leaves are very variable in size and shape, ranging from long, relatively narrow and more or less flat to almost completely round and, as they are often described, “the size of a dinner plate.” The round ones are also often a little wavy and the margins sometimes turn under. It is, of course possible that I am mistaken about the identity but, no other hoya I have ever seen, living or on a herbarium sheet matches Wight’s and G. Don’s description as this one does. I am, however, 100% sure that the hoya depicted by R. Rintz and sold by Ted Green as Hoya latifolia is not that species.


·    I have had the hoya collections of 9 herbaria, here at Fernbank Science Center, on loan for periods up to 6 months and I have personally visited three herbaria (NY, US and A), not once but several times. Yes, as Mr. Green said, some of the specimens had only dead stems and loose leaves (stuffed into a pasted on envelopes) but the vast majority of the specimens in all of those herbaria collections were in very good shape. Unfortunately about half of them are still unidentified (same as our living plants).



Thanks to David Liddle for this picture of Hoya latifolia which was labeled TG’s “diversifolia B.”



QUESTION: I have seen the abbreviations, PNG, aff., and sp. written before the species names of a lot of hoyas, in forum letters, on eBay and in sellers’ catalogs. What do they mean? ------- Most members of the HoyasRUs forum.


ANSWER: PNG = Papua New Guinea. The PNG was originally attached to 6 hoyas sold by Ted Green back in 1977. Then, about the same time, Mr. Green changed the labels of all the 6 digit USDA hoyas by deleting the first three numbers and substituting the letters PNG for those numbers, fooling a lot of people into thinking they were things they didn’t already have. Those USDA numbers were 352601, 353449,* 353450,* 354213, 354214, 354215, 354216, 354217 (354213 through, 354217 were listed as Dischidia, however, 354214 & 354215 proved themselves to be hoyas, when they bloomed). 354215 is identical to 354247. 354233 through 354247, 354413, 355309, 355385, 355386.


·    The two *s were two cultivated plants found in collections in Australia. They were labeled Hoya cinnamomifolia and Hoya purpureo-fusca. The one labeled Hoya purpureo-fusca (353450) is our friend, Pink Silver).


The only places I was able to see all of those were at the USDA greenhouse in Beltsville, MD and in Cobia’s private collection at the Cobia Nursery in Florida. I don’t believe that Green had all of them but those that he had he altered, as noted above. I still get a letter every now and then asking me such questions as, “Why does my USDA-354244 look identical to my PNG-244?” Why does my USDA-354233 look like my PNG-233? All express the opinion that had they known them to be the same species they’d have only bought one and saved themselves about $25.00 for each 2 node cutting.

Aff. is an abbreviation for the Latin word, affinis. Affinis means, “akin to, bordering on, allied to, neighboring.”

That is what it is supposed to mean but that is NOT what it means in sellers’ catalogs. Those fellows and gals have stretched the meaning and twisted it about until it looks like a pretzel. Sure, one could say that all hoyas are akin to one another so those sly birds are being 100% truthful when they say that one hoya is “aff.” to another. It is a fact that Hoya bella is “aff. Hoya imperialis,” and you’d think anyone would know that the kinship is rather remote, but would you believe, I actually had someone send me a picture of Hoya bella that had been sold to him as “aff. Hoya imperialis.” I traced that bit of nonsense to a Chinese publication that referred to Hoya imperialis as being closest kin to Hoya bella. That just shows that when people are familiar with only one or two hoyas they should never cite what they believe to be “closest kinship.”

          Sometimes you may find a hoya species listed as “aff. Hoya ______,” (with that blank filled in) and it may truly be very close in kinship but more often in sellers catalogs it means, “I don’t know what the heck it is but it is being sold by others as this species, which I know isn’t correct. It also, at times, means, “It is what I used to sell as this but now I know better.” The problem here is that too many “newbies” leave the “aff.” off when they write their own labels.

Sp. between the Hoya and the species name has a similar meaning, plus other meanings. “Sp. as part of the name appears to be entirely an invention of Hoya sellers. Other plant species catalogs I get simply list an unidentified species as “sp.” or “Unident.,” (for “unidentified”). The first seller I ever knew that used “sp” between the Hoya and the name that followed was Ted Green. It became a case of “monkey see; monkey do” because before long every other hoya seller followed suit. Unfortunately novice customers don’t know their language and all too often get stung. After you’ve been collecting and reading catalogs a few years, you’ll notice a pattern of labeling and be able to figure out the “Hoya dealereze language” the way some of us old-timers have. The abbreviation “sp. between the Genus name, Hoya and the species name means, “I don’t know what the heck it is but I’ve been selling it as this species, but I’ve since learned it isn’t that.” Another meaning is, “I don’t know what the heck it is but it is native to whatever name follows the sp.” Another meaning is, I don’t know what it is but I got it from whatever name that follows the “sp.” Believe it or not, I got a letter once asking me what the identity of a plant he had was. He got it labeled, “Hoya sp. Pig Sty.” Sellers simply can’t be bothered to insert the word, “from,” or “formerly sold as” between the sp. and what follows. Novice growers frequently interpret the “sp.” as meaning, “This is the true species named” and label their plants with that name. sans the “sp.” I know that to be true because some of those people have told me so. One example of confusion caused by someone thinking “sp.” means “This is the true species” and removing the “sp.” from his or her label is an error that has been spread all over the Internet. It is the mislabeling of one or more species with the epitaph, Hoya sulawesii. Of course, there is no such hoya as Hoya sulawesii.

             Anyone who really tries to learn something about plants and their naming goes to the library and reads books. Plant societies (all but the International Hoya Association, whose owners and editors “don’t know much and are proud of it”) frequently define terms and tell their members how plants get their names. Publications, such as Horticulture and even Better Homes and Gardens have at one time or another featured the subject. If anyone wants to know, there are scores of places to learn. I hope that this helps.




           Take the name Hoya sulawesii. Just by reading that name, one knows that there is no such hoya because there is no hoya collector by the name of Sulawes. The ii at the end of a species name tells us that it was named for a member of the male gender. If this were a hoya named for a man whose name was Sulawes, the spelling would be correct but only if said man were the collector of the holotype of the name. Had the collector been a woman named Sulawes, it would be sulawesiae. One can check Index Kewensis and learn that no one, male or female, named Sulawes has had a hoya named for him or her, so this could not be Hoya sulawesii or Hoya sulawesiae. If it had been named for someone named Sulawes, who was not the collector of the type specimen, the name would be spelled, Hoya sulawesiana. No such species name has been published. So we ask some questions and learn that it is native to Sulawesi. If it were a hoya named for its native habitat, it would be named Hoya sulawesiensis but a check with Index Kewensis tells us that no such hoya name has been published. I would not be surprised to see a hoya named Hoya sulawesiensis one of these days but it won’t be one of those now circulating as Hoya Sulawesi.

          The hoya that is widely distributed by Engelmann (EA) as Hoya sulawesii is Hoya brevialata Kleijn and van Donkelaar.I believe that Hoya pallilimba and Hoya dolichosparte have also had some circulation as Hoya Sulawesi, for no other reason than that someone mistook the “sp.” for meaning, “This is the true species.”

          A few years ago a bulletin of the National Mailorder Nurserymen’s Association had an article on catalog writing. It had one statement that I have found to be 100% true. I meet up with the problem almost every day. The article said that “No matter how careful you are when writing your catalog, to make sure that everything you say is clear and that no one could possibly misinterpret what you’ve written, there will always be some customers who will misread it and their misreading will lead to trouble. I learned in writing pieces for The Hoyan that what appeared plain as day to me, others misread. I could say something as plain as “Grass is green,” and a half dozen members would write and ask me, “What colour is grass?” For this reason, I urge all sellers of Hoya plants and cuttings to please take the time to write a few more words, like, “sp. from” and “Hoya formerly and mistakenly sold as” and save the “aff.” for hoyas that are truly very closely related (one’s that might be confused with one another even when side by side). “Similar in appearance to,” seems to me a better term to use with lay people than “aff.” anyway.




          We can’t do much but sellers can. All they need to do is add the word “from:” between the sp. and the name that follows it, when it is a place name, and the words “wrongly called” between the sp. and the name they had been using for the species named. They can stop saying a hoya is “aff.” to anything except species that they are truly closely related to. That calls for typing a few more letters but it avoids a whole lot of misunderstanding on the part of their novice customers.


QUESTION: I read a statement by Ann Wayman saying that CMF-8 was Hoya cagayanensis and that CMF-8’s leaves have pinnate venation. It certainly doesn’t look like pinnate venation to me and I know that you call a different species Hoya cagayanensis. Could you please define pinnate venation for me? --- Signed “One of Ann Wayman’s former neighbors.” He or she did not say which one. I don’t like unsigned letters but this one seemed to need answering.


ANSWER: Sure, I’ll be happy to define pinnate and several other types of venation, including the kind found on CMF-8, which certainly is not pinnate. How about if I illustrate them too?


Hoya sp. CMF-8

CMF stands for Charles Marden Fitch, the well known flower photographer and author of numerous books on gardening, both indoors and out. He found this and four other hoya pecies on one of his trips and sent them to me to distribute to Hoya Society International members.



A better view of the leaf veins of CMF-8

I say, “Ain’t no way, no time, no how, anyone could call those leaf veins pinnate and be right!

I call them quintuplinerved. See the definitions below and tell me what you think.


Pinnate: Having parts or branches arranged on each side of a common axis, as the divisions of a feather.




These crude sketches show three types of pinnately veined leaves. The one on the right is often mistaken by a couple of writers I know as being “trinerved,” however what appears to them as single nerves running up the sides of the leaves are not. Each side vein bends slightly and joins the vein above it. This is called anastomosing.



1.   The venation here is called Trinerved (two main nerves joined to the midrib at its base and rising upward, almost parallel to each other, the midrib and the side margins).

2.   The venation here is called Triplinerved (two main nerves, joined to the midrib a little above the base and rising upward, almost parallel to each other, the midrib and the side margins)

3.   The venation here is called Quinquenerved (four main nerves joined at its base to the midrib and rising upward, almost parallel to each other, the midrib and the side margins. This is often called “palmate.”

4.   The venation here is called Quintuplinerved (four main veins with the outer two attached at the base of the midrib and the inner two attached to the midrib a little above the base.


          It isn’t the number of veins on each side of the midrib that tells us whether the venation is pinnate or not, but the direction the veins travel on the leaf. Pinnate from the center, outward toward the side margins; trinerved, quinquenerved, triplinerved and quintuplinerved from the base or near the base, upward toward the apex.

          Sometime you’ll find trinerved and triplinerved leaves on the same plant and quinquenerved and quintuplinerved leaves on the same plant. My observation is that the leaves that have the veins arise above the leaf base are formed when the plants get lots of water and less than normal light. Regardless of whether the vein types are stable, it is the direction that the veins grow that distinguish them from pinnate leaves. All of the main veins in these leaves travel upward towards the leaves’ apexes.

          You can find these definitions and also a lot of other different sorts of veins defined in Stearn’s Botanical Latin page 331 of the 4th edition (somewhere close to that in other editions). If you don’t have a copy, I’m sure your botanical garden library or the library of you closest land grant college has a copy.

          Two other terms that I believe need defining, because I have seen them used wrongly an awful lot lately.

They are “variety” and “subspecies.” I think it is “subspecies” that is most often misused. People seem to assume that if something is a certain species but somehow different from the typical collection that it is a subspecies. Not so. Species is the lowest of the major divisions of a genus but there are minor divisions that are lower. “Variety” is a category of taxa subordinate in rank to that of subspecies. Then there is “subvariety.” And the lowest category is “forma.” These various categories are defined in the Code, Article 4. So, just because the species is different somehow from the type, don’t assume it is a subspecies. It could be another species, a subspecies, a variety, a subvariety or a forma.

          Offhand, I can think of only one hoya as “low-down” as a “forma” and that is Hoya imbricata forma basi-subcordata Koorders.