PS-The Hoyan

Vol. 6, #1

February 2007



What is it?  I think it is a variety of Hoya bella BUT, maybe not!


Here is its history:




The above picture was first featured on the cover of The Hoyan, vol. 15, #2 (October 1, 1993).

It was stated by the author of the accompanying article (Mr. Chanin Thorut) that until its correct name was determined that he was calling it “Wee Bella.”  That was a name of convenience only and was never intended to be its  botanical name.


            One month after seeing the above, along with portions of several herbarium specimens in The Hoyan, Professor P. T. Li went to Boston and examined the specimens himself.  He immediately wrote up a description and gave it the name of Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li.  This publication appeared exactly one year later in the Journal of the South China Agriculture University, vol. 15, #2 on page 74 (1994).

            Then eleven years later, ignoring Professor Li’s publication Kloppenburg decided it was a new species and published it again as Hoya weebella..  The name Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li has precedence, due to it’s earlier publication, therefore, if we are not to sink it into Hoya bella, Hook., as a variety or subspecies, then Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li is its correct name.

          The following four pages are scans of four sections of Professor Li’s holotype specimen, which is F. G. Dickason’s #3032, which is housed in the Arnold Arboretum Herbarium at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.  A  picture of a portion of this same specimen accompanied Chanin Thorut’s  article in The Hoyan.




The above scan is of the lower right hand corner of the Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li holotype specimen, which is F. G. Dickason #3032.  Please note that the leaves in this section of the specimen are in pairs, just as most hoya leaves are.










This scan is of the  upper left side of the specimen.  Here you see most of the leaves are three per node but some are two per node. I would like to also point out that some of those leaves are also acute at their apexes, while some of obtuse. Those in the picture of this species accompanying Mr. Kloppenburg’s publication also contained leaves with acute tips, along with leaves with obtuse tips ((See Fraterna 18 (2): 2005)).








The above shows the upper right hand section of this species.  Note that both branches have leaves with obtuse tips and leaves with acute tips. Note that the branch on the left has mostly three leaves per node, while the branch on the right has mostly 2 leaves per node.




          A very strange thing about Professor Li’s publication is that he said of it, “Hoya dickasoniana is most closely related to H.imbricata Callery ex A. DC.”  Two things are wrong with that.  First off, it is not “Hoya imbricata Callery ex A. DC.”  It is Hoya imbricata Callery  ex Decne.   A. DC” stands for Alphonse DeCandolle. “Decne.” stands for Decaisne.  It was Decaisne who published Callery’s species in DeCandolle’s Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, etc. in 1844. Secondly, this species is not most closely related to Hoya imbricata.  There is nothing about them that is alike except that both are hoyas. They are as different as two hoyas can be and still be called hoyas.


The above is the lower left hand corner of this same specimen.  Note the two leaves per node on this branch.  Note also that P. T. Li described the leaves both as opposite and whorled.


So, now we come to Mr. Kloppenburg’s very belated publication of the very same species. The reasons cited by Mr. Kloppenburg,  for separating this from Hoya bella,  were the three leaves per node and small size.  As the three scans (see above) show, sometimes there are only two leaves per node and sometimes there are as many as 5 leaves per node. Flowers are identical to those of other clones of Hoya bella that I have studied. Most appear smaller but some are just as large. Even the smaller flowers are not much smaller.  I’ve seen greater size variation in flowers on a single plant.

All of Mr. Kloppenburg’s blabbering about “critical measurements” doesn’t mean a great deal, as the two umbels of Hoya bella Hook. in the above picture prove.  Both were on same branch of the same plant, one at the tip of the main branch and the other on the tip of  a shorter side branch. The plant was about 30 years old and completely filled an 18 inch diameter “Anything Groes” pot.  It sat on a 5 foot tall pedestal and had branches completely surrounding it that reached to the floor and beyond.  I had to constantly prune it to keep from stepping on the branches as I passed it.



Do not go by the pictures accompanying Mr. Kloppenburg’s publication of Hoya weebella.  He used dried and pressed flowers that appear as if an elephant stomped on them and  threw them in the garbage where a lot of hungry insects fed on them. 

He says he reconstituted them with Kew Solution to restore their shapes before  photographing them.  Kew solution is not known at Kew (or wasn’t until someone there asked me what it is).   When I gave them the formula,  they wrote back and told me it sounded like a “deadly cocktail.” Its formula is:  60 parts Ethyl alcohol, 5 parts Formalin, 30 parts distilled water, and 5 parts glycerin.  It came to me from Peter Tsang.  Peter did not have a name for it.  The only person I ever heard call it “Kew Solution” is Kloppenburg.  Where he got that name for it is a mystery to me.  Per Peter Tsang, it  was never intended to be used for reconstituting dried and pressed flowers and it doesn’t reconstitute dried and pressed flowers.  It was intended to preserve flowers without bleaching all the colour out of them  It doesn’t do a good job of that either. I seems to me that it makes separating the flower parts more difficult, which may account for all the ragged looking outlines of flower parts in Kloppenburg’s pictures. 

The usual way that botanists reconstitute dried and pressed flowers is by steeping them in boiling water for a few minutes.  When this is done, the flower parts usually separate easily and cleanly. Then the examination and photographing must be done quickly as the flowers dry and shrivel up very rapidly.

Mr. Kloppenburg’s descriptions are very misleading.  For example, he claims that this species has  double anther wings.  It most certainly does not.  Double anther wings appear to be a Kloppenburg fetish.  He has frequently described hoyas as having them. Actually, if you have access to his drawings, where he labeled various hoya flower parts, you can see that he doesn’t know what anther wings are. In the early days of his photographing flower parts, he sent me several pictures of those “double anther wings” – all mislabeled as to species (5 identical prints sent by him to me had 5 different labels on them).  I know of only a single hoya species with what appears to be double anther wings but that is only an illusion.

He also described the upper sides of the leaves as being “rugose” (wrinkled) when they are actually smooth as a baby’s butt.  And, he said, “Blade dark green.” In the very next sentence he said, “ Above medium green.”  He was right the first time; the upper surfaces of the leaves are dark green.

Mr. Kloppenburg described the outer apexes of the corona lobes as “like Hoya rizaliana Kloppenb.”, which is the most absurd thing he has ever said before and he has said a lot of absurd things.  Here is a what he, himself drew and made part of his original Hoya rizaliana name publication:


 LEFT: This is Mr. Kloppenburg’s rendition of a Hoya rizaliana  corona lobe.  Note the two extremely long extensions  at the bottom, which are completely lacking on the species in question.

CENTER: The picture in the center shows a Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li flower (syn. Hoya wee bella Kloppenb.).   It’s corona lobes are easily seen.  If you see them as looking at all like Mr. Kloppenburg’s sketch, make and appointment with your eye doctor immediately because you have a serious problem.

   RIGHT:  What can you expect from a guy who’d publish the  picture  on the right and call it a picture of a hoya flower??????  I kid you not.  It’s on page 73 of my copy of his Acanthostemma book and it is labeled “Crown and corolla” of the species he calls Hoya loheri. Kloppenb. (syn. Hoya rizaliana Kloppenb.).   It may be on a different page in your copy. The only proofing he does is after publication and distribution so that almost all copies he sends out have different page number sequences (at least all three of the copies I have seen do). If that looks like a hoya crown and corolla to you, see my suggestion (above) and call your eye doctor without delay.

I was fortunate in having plenty of fresh flowers and so was George Slusser, whose photographs of the flower parts match mine exactly. They don’t look at all like those pictured by Kloppenburg. 


MY CONCLUSION IS:  If the powers that be (whomever they are) declare this not to be a variety or subspecies of Hoya bella  Hook., as I believe it to be, that we have only one alternative and that is to declare it to be Hoya dickasoniana P. T. Li as it is obviously the same species and Professor Li’s publication preceded Kloppenburg’s by eleven years. Just for the sake of convenience, I think using the name Hoya dickasoniana is advisable anyway.