Aconitum

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by MonkshoodManiac, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. MonkshoodManiac

    MonkshoodManiac Member

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    This is a great site and a great setup so I am very happy to join the forum. I am a horticulturist and a writer with a deep interest in perennials. I am the co-author of the Timber Press title, "Heucheras and Heucherellas" (along with Dan Heims).

    My current interest is with Monkshoods and I am amassing much info for something I am calling the Aconitum Breeding and Development Project (ABDP). I am hoping to get UBC involved but it is not certain at this point.

    At any rate, I do have people on board from the RFE (Russian Far East), Kunming BG and the Lyon BG in France. Seeds and rhizomes are expected soon from Vladivostok, Magadan and Sakhalin in the RFE and Yunnan and Sichuan in SW China.
    I am hopeful that we can take Aconitum to a new level.

    I am currently preparing an article on Aconitum climbers for a British publication.

    If anyone would like to share their monkshood stories with me/us, I/we would be delighted.

    Cheers,

    Grahame
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2005
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  3. MonkshoodManiac

    MonkshoodManiac Member

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    Re: Hi To All!

    Daniel: I am not aware of the total of your (UBC's) Aconitum accessions at this point. If you have that info, I would be grateful.
    Also: great photo of the Korean sp, A uchiyamai.

    As you may be aware there is tremendous consolidation taking place within the genus. The splitter WT Wang is being trumped by the lumper QE Yang.

    A lot of really fine work is being done in this genus by many folks and clarifying the confusion of the ages.

    One of the problems is that Aconitums are what I call ecovertibles i.e. they are masters of morphing as a response to their envioronment.
    The Annals of the Missouri BG recent article, 92: 275-306. 2005 entitled, "Polyploidy in the Flora of the Hengduan Mtns..." details the amazing fact that despite about half of the world's species of Aconitum being from there, there were very few polyploids. Considering the global average for the genus it was about 1/3 the normal. The same held true for Delphinium.
    Why? The environment makes for many forms but fewer species and subspecies.
    They say, "Morphological differentiation can be accumulated in a relatively short period under certain alpine environments through natural selection without drastic genetic or chromosmal divergence."

    This is definitely contrarian speciation and we will await to see what the scientists have to say a few years down the road.

    Suffice to say though, there are a lot less actual species of Aconitum than the likes of Wang (one of the recent authorities on the genus) and Kadota (author of the Aconitum section in the Flora of China) would have the world believe.

    For proof of this one only has to read the following:
    "Taxonomic Notes on some species of Aconitum from Yunnan, China" QE Yang Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 37 (6) 545-590 and
    "Taxonomic revison of Aconitum from Sichuan, China" QE Yang & Y Luo, Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 43 (4) 289-386

    There are many other articles on this that point the way to consolidation and the unmasking of poseurs in the genus.

    Yes! there is light at the end of the taxonomic tunnel!

    Thanks for the reply and the link.

    Cheers,

    Grahame
     
  4. MonkshoodManiac

    MonkshoodManiac Member

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    Hi: Further to the previous posting, I think it is safe to say Daniel that UBCBG has less than 5% of the species of Aconitum worldwide. I am in the process of wading my way through all of the work of Yang et al in regards to their sweeping synonymy. They have only done a thorough job on the species from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces but if that is any indication, I think it is safe to project a halving of the species and a lot of subspecies being formally published.

    Cheers,

    Grahame
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    In my defense, I wanted to say that I was basing my numbers off of incorrect numbers at Wikipedia's entry on Aconitum, which stated 100 species. After receiving a note from Grahame, I checked Mabberley's The Plant Book, and discovered that the numbers are actually around 300 species (though it seems based on Grahame's statements, that the number will decline).

    PS I've updated Wikipedia to state "over 250 species".
     
  6. MonkshoodManiac

    MonkshoodManiac Member

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    Daniel: "The Masters of Morphing", ecotypical variation to the extreme- Aconitum will fool y'all- including some of the finest taxonomists ever to strap on a 10x hand lens!

    To Be Cont.....

    Grahame
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi Daniel,

    Two of my books say "about 100 species" - maybe they had a telepathic preview of Yang's work??
     
  8. Jes

    Jes Member

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    Hi to all

    I'm just an amateur gardener with a fascination for Aconitums. I have roughly 15-20 varieties/cultivars in my garden. I have been growing them for the last 7 years, with different degrees of success and failure, and trying to research them for the last year.

    Like Grahame I am trying to collect information for a book of my own, based on my experiences with this plant.

    Another project is to compile a database of as many of them as possible, but this will be very long term due to the vast number of them.

    Steve
     
  9. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Mr. Ware, I wondered how your acontinum research was faring. I am looking forward to the new book (I have greatly enjoyed the Hellebores book you co-authored).

    Have you contacted Paghat the Ratgirl? Her Web site is very entertaining and she has several articles on Acontinum.
     
  10. Daniel Otis

    Daniel Otis Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I'm no expert on aconites, but let me relate something I stumbled upon that might be of interest. Here in New York, aconites flower late, into October, and set seed very late. A few years ago I collected all my aconite seed, let it sit around for a few weeks, and then, probably in December, threw it all into a hastily prepared flat filled with some ordinary peat-based mix, which I covered with screen to keep the squirrels out. I then put it outside, under a foot or so of leaves, to stratify over the winter.

    Here's the funny part--in my haste, I had chosen a flat with no drainage. Apparently the first time it rained, the flat filled up with water, which later froze solid and stayed that way throughout the winter. In early April, when I pulled back the leaves, I lifted out a solid block of frozen sludge.

    Over a period of a few days, I thawed it out, drained it through a screen, and spread the contents of that flat over the surface of three more flats--the soil and seed were thoroughly mixed, and I wanted to keep the soil-seed mix shallow enough that seedlings could make their way out.

    The result--near-perfect germination, more seedlings than I knew what to do with. I don't know if aconite is ordinarily difficult to germinate; if so, I thought some variation on this approach might interest other growers. The species, I think, was carmichaelii.
     
  11. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Excellent. How large are the seeds? I have only had my plants a year or two and have not collected seed yet.

    Thanks for the input. I will search for some seed.
     
  12. Daniel Otis

    Daniel Otis Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Let's see--the seeds are not miniscule--about as big as a boldface comma in 12-point type. It may be that they germinate readily without the extreme treatment I describe, but I thought that, like some delphinium seed, they may tend to germinate slowly and erratically without special care.
     
  13. MonkshoodManiac

    MonkshoodManiac Member

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    Daniel: Fresh seed sowed outside seems to be thew formuloa for good germ. Obviously, well developed embryos ( i.e. good seed) are very important as well.
    A carmichaelii is a late bloomer so a long warm summer and good early fall weather is necessary for the seed of this species to develop fully.

    Bob Brown of Cotswold Flower Nursery in England has a number of selections of this species that might interest you. Google it up as I don't have the web off the top of my head this morning.

    Happy New Year.

    Grahame
     
  14. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    My A. carmichaelii is showing green, the same time as the crocuses are blooming and the daffodils are thinking about it. It is a wonderful little harbinger of spring in this Midwest environ.
     
  15. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Here is the late October payoff for my A. carmichaelii in the Kansas City area.
     

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