71206Nomenclature of the botanical sort was so much simpler back when we studied it back in the 1980s. It was intended to be like that. It was how the various specie of plants were identified and classified. There were certain rules that simply made sense. After ‘family’, plants were classified into general ‘genera’, and then further classified into specific ‘specie’. Some specie were further classified into ‘varieties’ and ‘cultivars’. (Cultivars are simply ‘cultivated varieties’ that need to be perpetuated by cloning because they are too genetically unstable to be true-to-type from seed.)

The genus name is always first. The species name is always second. Because they are Latin, they should be italicized. Any variety or cultivar names are last, not italicized, and in semi-quotations.

Back in the 1980s, there were a few specie that did not quite fit into such neat classification. Intergeneric hybrids (between two parents of different genera) were designated by an ‘X’ before the genus name, such as X Fatshedera lizei, which is a hybrid between Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix. Interspecific hybrids (between twp parents of different specie) were designated by an ‘X’ before the species name, such as Platanus X acerifolia, which is a hybrid between two different specie of the same genus of Platanus. Then there are different species that hybridize freely, but are still designated as separate specie, such as Washingtonia robusta and Washingtonia filifera, but that is another story.

Nowadays, with so much weirdly promiscuous breeding, it is difficult to know what specie or even genera some of the modern varieties and cultivars fit into. Consequently, species names are often omitted, and genus names are sometimes changed. It is getting difficult to know the differences between the two formerly distinct genera of Gaillardia and Rudbekia.

What is even sillier is that all this is happening while ‘sustainability’ and gardening for ‘bees’ are such fads. Weirdly bred specie . . . or whatever they are, are likely unable produce viable seed, so are just the opposite of sustainable. They only sustain their own marketability by ensuring the need for replacement. Some make no pollen for the bees that visit the flowers expecting to find some. Some make pollen of questionable nutritional value, or serve it in complicated flowers that might be difficult for bees to navigate.

There certainly are advantages to simplicity.71129

Apologies for the delay of posting ‘Horridculture’, which is normally posted on Wednesday. I was unable to write, so advanced the article that was intended for today to Wednesday, and finished writing this rant for today.

10 thoughts on “Horridculture – Promiscuity

  1. I only recently learned about the problems insects can have when confronted with highly bred plants that provide little or no nutrition. It certainly helps to emphasize the importance of native plants in gardens and landscaping, and the preference among many for the term “wildscaping.”

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    1. This does not likely contribute significantly to the decline of bees, because the overly bred plants are confined to home gardening and landscapes. They do not naturalize and escape into the wild because they are so weak, and many are sterile. They are only harmful to colonies that rely too much on such flowers, and such colonies are rare. Most bee colonies visit a very broad range of hosts. Nonetheless, they are certainly not benefiting the bees. Except for their temporary beauty, they are not an asset to the environment.

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  2. This is where having fruits and veggies in the garden can be beneficial, not just to ourselves, but the various pollinators. You can’t get them without pollen-laden flowers! This is also where letting plants just do their thing and not being so worried about tidiness can help, too. Many flowers will produce seeds or attract other insects that can then feed the birds later on.

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    1. Even fruits and vegetables get bred extensively, although such breeding is more limited. The are, of course, no use if they can not make fruit. I suppose that with some of the ‘true’ vegetables (those that are not really fruits) genetic stability is not such a concern. Cabbage is still cabbage, even if it can not make seed. Fortunately, those who enjoy growing fruits and vegetables tend to prefer the more genetically stable sorts that are not so ridiculously bred.


  3. Cimicifuga has been changed to Actea, Gillenia has been changed to Porteranthus, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be in the business of selling asters…holy cow! Stubborn as we are here, we will continue to refer to Cimicifuga racemosa as is, there is no plant taxonomist living next door, so we are probably safe. We do refer to the plants we grow by their botanical (Latin) name and seldom use common names, there are just too many plants that are botanically different but share a common name, as you well know. With several species within a genus (Polygonatum an example)being desirable and offered here, we most certainly rely on Latin classification.

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