Vol. 4, #2
Hoya incurvula Schltr. – Photo by George Slusser.
Letter #1: Why does the new publication. Hoya andalensis Kloppenb. ((Fraterna 18 (1): 2 (2005)) look familiar to me? I know it is named for a place because of the –ensis suffix but I can’t find such a place on any map nor the name in any reference. Where is it? --- What I asked myself as soon as I saw it.
Reply: It didn’t take long to learn why it looked familiar. It is one I’ve grown for more than ten years. I have compared it and all its parts with Schlechter’s Hoya incurvula and have found them perfect matches. It took somewhat longer to learn that there is NO SUCH PLACE as Andal so this hoya cannot possibly be from such a place.
Mr. Kloppenburg alleged in his
publication that the name Andalensis was “derived form (sic) the ancient name
I then wrote to David Liddle and told him that I am 100% sure that this plant is Hoya incurvula and asked him if he’d ever heard of Sumatrera or Andal. He replied that he’d been growing & selling this species as Hoya incurvula for about twelve years. He gave me an URL and said that he thought Kloppenburg must have gotten the name from that. I checked the URL and have been laughing ever since. I think that lad has something in his “pot licker” besides turnip juice and bacon fat!
Here is the URL: http://www.valdyas.org/andal/
Take a look. You’ll find that Andal is a figment of someone’s imagination! Makes me wonder --- Did Kloppenburg intend this as an April Fool’s joke? Nah! The joke’s on him! I’d surely like to know the author of that fiction – sounds like Stover!
Hoya incurvula Schltr. (syn. Hoya andalensis Kloppenb.)
Photograph by George Slusser.
Letter #2: Perhaps I should call this “Letters” instead of “Letter” and add numbers into infinity because I’ve had a lot of questions asked about this one lately. The questions are all about a plant sold as Hoya ovalifolia. The most asked question is, “How soon will it bloom and what will the flowers look like?
Reply: My reply at this point is, “I don’t
know.” Up until a week ago I had not
seen the plant in question. A week ago I
received a cutting of it in the mail.
The cutting came from about the coldest climate in the world next to the
After leaving the post office, I had to stop at the grocery store so I took the cutting inside with me. Publix gives free fountain Cokes to senior citizens. I took mine, sans ice, and put that cutting in the Coca-Cola while I did my monthly grocery shopping. It takes me an extra long time because I always make several trips around the store just for the exercise (I don’t do much walking in my neighborhood because I’m afraid of “Pit Bulls!” My neighbors have a lot of them. Well, to make a long story short, by the time I got home with that paper cup of Coca-Cola and that hoya cutting, it no longer looked frozen and now, one week later, the cutting is already rooted. That’s about the fasted I’ve ever observed a hoya rooting.
What is this cutting with the label of Hoya ovalifolia on it? I really don’t know but I’m 99 and 44% sure it is not Hoya ovalifolia. I’d guess that it might be Hoya hainanensis Merr., which some say is synonymous with Hoya ovalifolia. After seeing and examining an isotype specimen of Hoya hainanensis I am sure those saying it is a synonym for Hoya ovalifolia are wrong, because nothing about it “fits.”
I found the above specimen in the herbarium of the
What is generally overlooked, by
most people like us, is that Wight appears to have mounted plant material from
two different collections on this sheet.
The specimen on the right is Hoya ovalifolia. It was collected in the “
The above illustration is from Robert Wight’s Icones Plantarum, tab. 847.
The leaves on both the type and the above illustration are definitely elliptic, which just proves that Wight’s definition of “oval” and my definition of “oval” are not the same. Stearn agrees with Wight as he defines “oval” as “elliptic, i.e., broadest at the middle, the sides curved and length:breadth usually 2:1. (See page 459, 4th edition of Stearn’s Botanical Latin).
Wight & Arnott’s published description was in Latin. They published it in 1834. It was translated into English by George Don in 1837. George Don’s translation follows:
radicant, glabrous; leaves fleshy, oval, acuminated at both ends; peduncles
shorter than the leaves, many-flowered; corolla downy inside; segments ovate,
acute; leaflets of corona oval, obtuse, with the inner angles short; stigma
mutic. Native of the
Please note that Wight and Arnott described the foliage as “oval, acuminated at both ends.”
Please note that the
The hoya in Wight’s Icones Plantarum shows leaves that are oval-elliptic and acuminated at both ends.
leaves on the cutting sent to me in the mail last week are very like those on
Note that the two umbels in the Wight illustration have about a dozen flowers showing but since only those flowers visible on one part of the umbel can be seen in a line drawing, I think it is safe to estimate that the full umbel must contain at least 25 to 30 flowers, yet Mr. Ted Green, from whom my source got the plant sent to me, described it in his catalog as having 15 flowers in its umbel. To be fair, I must say that this difference may not mean a thing. It has been my observation that almost all of my plants of same species described by Mr. Green have two to three times more flowers per umbel than Mr. Green’s descriptions indicate they should have.
What do other authors have to say about Hoya ovalifolia?
Sir J. D. Hooker, in Flora of British India (4: 60, 1883), described the leaves as “elliptic or elliptic-ovate or –oblong or –lanceolate obtuse or acute, very thick, “-- which makes me wonder just what he was looking at when he described those leaves.
H. Trimen, in Handbook of the Flora of Ceylon (part 3; 162) described the leaves as “oval, tapering to a slightly rounded base, shortly acuminate, acute.”
Cecil J. Saldanha & Dan H. Nicholson, in Flora of the Hassan District Karnataka, India (449 - 1976), described the leaves as “elliptic, base acute to slightly obtuse, apex acute to obtuse or very slightly acuminate; margins undulate and not revolute. I bold printed that to stress the fact that the cutting I got last week does not have a single undulation on the leaf margins and the leaf margins are very revolute. The cutting I got last week also has broadly rounded leaf bases and its apexes are likewise, broadly rounded but with apiculate tips. One leaf on the 4 node cutting even lacks an apiculated tip. It is completely round.
and Arnott’s Neelgherry specimen
shows that the leaves are arranged more or less in fascicles
(verticiallate). Note the two short
branches with the whorls of leaves at their ends. Those two branches show numerous scars from
fallen leaves. All of those scars are
evidence of a large number of extremely closely spaced leaves. I have never seen any other twining hoyas
with so many leaves so closely spaced.
If it is true that Hoya verticillata is the correct
name for Hoya parasitica, then
Wight and Arnott’s comparing their plant with Hoya parasitica was right on the button! The way I see that it differs from Hoya
verticillata is that Hoya verticillata leaves are
conspicuously veined, at least in the dry state. That can be seen clearly in the pictures of
verticillata type specimen, furnished to me by Dr. Veldkamp of
One thing is very sure and that is that the plant that came to me as Hoya ovalifolia doesn’t even remotely resemble Hoya parasitica, whether you call it, Hoya verticillata, Hoya acuta, Hoya opposita or any other of the names people have appended to it over the years.
Wight: Ovate, acuminate at both ends. Margins undulate but not revolute.
Hooker f: Elliptic, elliptic-ovate, oblong or lanceolate, acute at both ends.
Decaisne: Ovate, bases and apexes acuminate.
H. Trimen: Tapering to slightly rounded base, shortly acuminate, acute.
Gamble: Elliptic, elliptic-ovate, oblong or lanceolate, obtuse or acute at apex, margins not recurved.
Saldanha & Nicholson: Elliptic, base acute to slightly obtuse; apex acute to obtuse or very slightly acuminate; margins undulate and not revolute. Saldanha’s specimen 15919 shows leaves that are acuminated and very acute at both ends,
Wight: Not mentioned in description but Wight’s illustration shows no leaf veins at all, except for the costa.
Those on type specimen (from Neelgherry) are very difficult to see, even
in the dried state. Those on the
Hooker f.: Nerves distinct.
Decaisne: Not noted.
H. Trimen: Not noted.
Gamble: Main nerves, when dry, oblique, inconspicuous.
Saldanha & Nicholson: Lateral nerves oblique (about 45º).
I cannot say that the hoya now in circulation as Hoya ovalifolia is not that species but I don’t believe it is. We may be able to identify it correctly once it blooms of us.
NOTE: To those who may see a hoya in Paxton’s Flower Garden labeled Hoya ovalifolia, Paxton erred. That hoya is Hoya cinnamomifolia. Ditto to the plants described as this in L. H. Bailey’s Cyclopedia of Gardening, George Nicholson’s Dictionary of Gardening and second last edition of the RHS Dictionary of Gardening.
Decaisne, J., DeCandolle’s Prodromus etc. 8: 638 (1844).
Dietrich, Synopsis Plantarum 891 (date not available to me).*
Don, G. General System of Gardening and Botany 4: 126 (1837).
James Sykes, Flora of the Presidency of
J. D., Flora of
Cecil J., & Nicholson, Dan H.,
Trimen, H., Handbook of the Flora of Ceylon, Part 3: 162 (date not available).*
to the Botany of
Wight, R., Icones Plantarum 847 (1843).
* Items with missing data were Xeroxed and sent to me by Kloppenburg several years ago. I have been unable to fill in the gaps.
Here’s another URL for hoya lovers: