Vol. 5, #1


Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes


Photograph sent to me for identification by the subject of this issue. Its use here, without permission, falls under the “fair use” clause in the Copyright law --- use being for the purpose of education, and defense of the innocent!


Letter #1:  On Dave’s Garden Hoya forum a member, while not citing your name, stated that a person she’d thought to be a Hoya authority had misidentified Hoya australis subsp. australis for her as Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes. She wanted everyone to know that this person’s identity was wrong.  She wrote to me in private correspondence and let it be known that you were the person who misidentified this hoya for her.  What say you?       ---- Name withheld to keep the writer from also being “badmouthed.”  I’d like to add that I got similar letters on this subject from 7 other writers.

Reply:  I have NEVER  seen any of this person’s plants.  She sent the above picture to me for identification.  I believe that I told her that the plant in the picture was Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes  because that’s what it looks like to me. I am sure that I told her, as I tell everyone (over and over and over and over, etc.) that, no matter what you may have heard in the past, “PICTURES DO LIE!”

      How do pictures lie?  In many ways.  First of all, in the case of  hoya pictures, at times you’ll find the foliage of a different species wound among the leaves of the one in flower, which leaves the impression that the flowers belong to a different plant.  If the foliage does belong to the flowers pictured, you can’t tell from a picture if the undersides of the leaves are the same colour or if they are pubescent or bald.  Heck, you can’t even tell if the colour is as shown in the picture.  Per a letter I have from Kodak, green colour rarely photographs accurately.  Even leaves with very pubescent upper leaf surfaces often photograph looking shiny and smooth – depends on how close the hairs are or if they are flat or stand up straight.

      Assuming that the leaves in the photo belong to the same plant as the flowers, I believe the plant in the above picture is Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes  because of the size and shape of the leaves and their bright green colour (I refer to the two upper leaves (the bottom one looks a bit dark but it could still belong to the same plant, though it looks more like a Hoya diversifolia leaf to me).  I believe  that the plant in this picture is Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes because of the large number of flowers in the umbels and because of the shape of the flowers.  I believe it is Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes because of the colour of the flowers.


 I know it is NOT Hoya australis  subsp. australis because it doesn’t match the type!


                 For those of you who don’t know, when there is more than one subspecies, it is the first plant with the species name that has the same subspecies name.  This means that the hoya published by James Traill in 1827 as Hoya australis  R. Br.  ex J. Traill is Hoya australis subsp. australis.


                Here is a history of Hoya australis subsp. australis  R. Br. ex J. Traill (found in article by  James Britten in Journal of Botany, British and Foreign, vol. 36, page 414 in 1898).

              First published by James Traill in the Transactions of the Horticulture Society, vol. 7, page 28 in 1827.  It was, as stated by Traill,  referred by Brown in Memoirs Wernerian Natural History Society, vol. 1, page 27 (1810) and subsequently in his Prodromus (1810) as Hoya carnosa. In each case, Brown expressed his opinion that his carnosa probably included several species; it appears from his MSS that he grouped together under that name all the specimens he had seen that did not belong to viridiflora, the second species of the genus named by him.

                    Britten goes on to say, “Subsequently, the Australian plant was named by him (R. Brown) in Herb. Banks, Hoya australis, and, as his ticket upon the same sheet, bears the name Hoya carnosa,  the doubt expressed by Bentham (Flora Australensis 4: 347) as to the identity of the two plants may be removed.”

                   Continuing with Britten’s report, “The plant does not seem to have been collected by Brown as stated by Bentham, but only by Banks, at Cape Grafton, Endeavour River, in 1770.  It was  named and fully described in MS. by Solander, and we have also a sketch by Sydney Parkinson, “etc., etc. The sketch referred can be seen on the opposite page (page 3).

                   The following is what I believe is Hoya australis subsp. australis R. Br. ex. J. Traill.  It has been and continues to be sold in US mislabeled as Hoya keysii. It is the only hoya I have ever seen in US trade labeled  mislabeled as Hoya keysii. This was identified for me by Dr. Ken Hill as Hoya australis subsp. australis many years ago.


Hoya australis subsp. australis R. Br. ex. J. Traill

Photograph by Christine M. Burton.


Funny thing about the above photo.  When I put the original under the lens of my microscope, I can see the pinkish colour peeping out between the corona lobes, however to the naked eye this can’t be seen in the picture and appears on the living plant as just a dirty grayish to yellowish smudge.





This is a sketch of the Banks and Solander specimen which is the Hoya australis holotype.


How does Hoya australis subsp.  australis differ from Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes?


      Take a good look at the illustrations.  Even an idiot ought to be able to tell the difference, though it appears to me that allegedly high I. Q. individuals  can’t. 


Hoya australis subsp. australis  has smaller leaves, which are covered on both sides with “fuzz.” 

Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes has larger shiny, completely bald leaves.

Hoya australis subsp. australis flowers  in autumn in US, when it condescends to bloom at all, which is rarely.

Hoya australis subsp. tenuipes blooms from very early spring until very early summer in the US and it blooms profusely.



Letter #1, continued:  This same Dave’s Forum member also claims that a person (I’m sure you) misidentified a hoya for her as Hoya callistophylla. She said that David Liddle had informed her that it is not that species.  What say you? --- Same writer as above!

          Reply: As noted above, I have never seen the plant this lady says was misidentified for her by me (if I am the person she referred to) but I did identify the plant in the following picture for her as that species:



Hoya callistophylla T. Green --- Photo by the unnamed Dave’s Forum member – Used without permission, however use falls under the “fair use” clause which permits use for purposes of education – and the defense of the innocent.


           I believe that the above is Hoya callistophylla because the picture is like one I got from David Liddle in the early to mid-1980s as IML-554.  It matches the picture shown in a 1990s Australian publication as “Hoya meredithii.”  It matches the Wallace picture of SBG-851980 which Ted Green cited in his publication of the name Hoya callistophylla, i. e., his type was a specimen he made of cultivated material and numbered T. Green #201 which he noted was “From Nabawan, Sabah, Eastern Malaysia, SBG-851980. “


A picture of that obtained from Wallace by David Liddle, on my behalf, follows:




It matches the following picture in the Australian publication, Your Garden,  in May of 1992:


The above picture was mislabeled “Hoya meredithii,  which it isn’t. The error is understandable in view of the fact that Mr. Green cited the Wallace specimen as type of Hoya meredithii in his invalid publication of the name, Hoya meredithii.


          The forum member’s picture also matches some material sent to me by David Liddle in the mid-1980s of a hoya he has in his inventory as IML-554, which has been acknowledged by him, and others as being a species from the same collection site as Wallace-SBG-851980.



Sent to me by David Liddle in the mid-1980s.  Darker colour is due to the amount of light exposure when the picture was taken.



David Liddle’s sketch of this species.



The above leaves were photocopied by David Liddle and sent to me, along with living material of this species in the mid-1980s.  If you have a copy of  David Liddle’s current catalog or a copy of his hoya inventory you will find that he lists IML-554 as Hoya callistophylla.


My conclusion:


          I think that Dave’s Forum member would find it more profitable spending her time teaching her grandmother to suck eggs than in trying to discredit me and in trying to convince the masses that she is a hoya authority.  Her constant dropping of David Liddle’s name as the source of her information that I had misidentified these and other things points to what I believe is her motive.  She knows that David Liddle and I are friends and that we  exchange letters and e-mails frequently.  She’d like to drive a wedge between us so that people will think that she has an exclusive “in” with him.

           My observation is that name dropping has never been a profitable occupation.  If it were, I could make a fortune overnight instead of constantly struggling to make ends meet.  I, for example, have met a lot of celebrities, including three queens of the Netherlands (2 were only princesses then); Albert Einstein, Arturo Toscanini, a whole slew of famous opera singers, Fred Waring, Dame Judith Anderson, Vincent Price (I had a part in one of his movies), Liberace, Tommy Dorsey, Brother Dave, Sam Snead, Ozzie & Harriet,  and I went on a blind date with one of Ginger Rogers’ husbands (the night before he married her).  I’m sure I could think of a few others if I set my mind to it.  All them and a few bucks would only get me a cup of coffee and I HATE COFFEE!


          I have also concluded that most of the people (NOT ALL, but most) who collect hoyas in the US are the sort whose mothers crawl out from under the porch when they come home at night and bark at them! This group is the most vocal and its members invariably go into the business of selling hoyas.  They also put up web pages filled with mostly unadulterated fiction!


          When I started studying and writing about hoyas my intention was to help others, who (like me) were being cheated by sellers who sold the same species over and over under different labels.  I thought that by telling them that the labels were wrong I could save them disappointment and money. 


I now wonder why I’m wasting my time?????????????????  Maybe I should just take what I know with me to my grave!