Alocasia Amazonica is not a species and isn't from the Amazon.

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by photopro, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a bunch LariAnn.

    I've been zipping mail back and forth to Julius Boos, Alistair Hay and Pete Boyce all morning on this. It appears from a note received today from Alistair many of the plants we have accepted as "species" are truly variations of Alocasia longiloba. There is a great deal of work that needs to be done on this by a qualified scientist but Alistair explained single plants have been observed in large groups of "species" plants that look nothing like the surrounding parents but upon close examination prove to be one and the same, ie natural variation.

    i was planning on sending you a note today asking if you had tried to duplicate the original crosses as described by both André and Salvadore Mauro? It would appear to me you are uniquely qualified to put some resolution on this "mystery" so it can finally be put to bed.

    By the way, your opinion is worth a great deal more than 2 cents!
     
  2. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Just a note regarding Alocasia Poly, or a some would say "Alocasia Polly".

    I've been trading mail much of the morning with Bill and Denis Rotolante. The team own Silver Chrome Gardens near Homestead, FL and are the growers that found and popularized Alocasia Poly. The plant is nothing more than a smaller form of Alocasia Amazonica and not from different parents as I had been informed.

    Some sources indicate André's "mortefontanensis" may be the same as the hybrid plant now known as "Alocasia Polly" which is correctly Alocasia Poly. Some sellers have elected to use the wrong name but according to Bill Rotolante this smaller version of Alocasia Amazonica was discovered in their nursery. Most seller's tags today give credit to the Rotolante's.

    This is a quote from one of Bill's notes: "I was growing Alocasia x Amazonica back in the 1980's from tissue cultured liners. One of the plants exhibited new characteristics; heavier leaf substance, shorter petioles, better shipping qualities and slower growth than the standard plants. It was a sport from the standard Amazonica type created by genetic changes in Tissue Culture. The rest is history. It became the standard of excellence in Alocasia for many years. It's still hard to beat although the value has been degraded by the fact that it was over produced by Chinese labs that flooded the market with knock offs."

    The name "Poly" originated since they originally thought their smaller variation was a polyploid form of Amazonica Amazonica. A polyploid specimen is one that has more than double the basic number of chromosomes. DNA tests on the plant have proven this assumption to be incorrect.

    Part of the problem in understanding Alocasia species is they are extremely variable across any given range. A species collected in Malaysia may not appear to be the same plant if collected in Sumatra. Plants have been studied where only a single specimen of its "type" can be located in a large area while others that appear to be only somewhat similar are commonly growing around the region. If studied scientifically all prove to be the same species. A single plant that does not look exactly like its parent group does not indicate a new species. Alocasia species are so variable in the wild there is no way to compare them to cultivated specimens. Growers and sellers are far too quick to want to grant a new "name" to a plant based on a single cultivated specimen.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  3. LariAnn

    LariAnn Active Member

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    IMHO, this natural variation observed may be (very likely) speciation in process. At some point, one or more varieties will diversify to the degree where they will not yield fertile offspring when crossed back with closely related, but now genetically incompatible, varieties in adjacent populations. Once this occurs, and the species-to-be demonstrates the ability to reproduce true from seed, you have, in fact, a brand-new species that, while still closely related to the previous species, is genetically distinct enough to attain the status of species for itself. Pending actual field study, I suspect that some of the plants now considered varieties of longiloba may be near to, or at, the point where they have diversified enough to become species in their own right.

    Of course, the whole discussion hinges on the exact definition of "species" which, as I have learned, is not as cut and dried as many may have been educated to believe. That is one reason why taxonomists can disagree on the specific status of a particular organism; were it a cut and dried situation, there should be no doubt at all amongst the relevant members of the scientific community. The fact that there is a commercial incentive (uniqueness) for naming a particular variety as though it were in fact a species, plus the fact that scientists know that writing papers describing new species helps them "publish" rather than "perish", makes the whole question even murkier!

    LariAnn
    Aroidia Research
     
  4. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    My friend Geneviève Ferry who works with the botanical garden in Nancy, France and has accompanied Dr. Croat on collecting trips to South America just gave me the explanation as to why André called his Alocasia hybrid mortefontanensis.

    The Mortefontaine Treaty is an agreement signed in 1800 between France and the United States which came before the U.S. Senate on December 16, 1800. The treaty settled the hostilities of the Quasi-War which was waged largely in the Caribbean.

    I'm unsure what relationship that has to do with a hybrid plant but it does appear to be the source of the name.
     
  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I'm not certain why but this week (November 16, 2009) the USDA elected to update the material on its website to no longer reflect Alocasia x amazonica should be credited to André.

    http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?312551

    If someone from the USDA has been following this thread or the one on Aroid l I'd like to offer my thanks for the correction.

    Score one for Salvadore Mauro!
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  6. bjo

    bjo Active Member 10 Years

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    Steve

    "Score one for Salvadore Mauro!"..... and one for Steve Lucas !

    Brian
     
  7. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Information provided this afternoon by Geneviève Ferry in France makes it clearer André's plant was never described as Alocasia x amazonica as is often reported.

    Geneviève is a regular on Aroid l and sent a copy of the original of André's work. She was kind enough to give me the "play by play" since I couldn't make the document written in French open. Her information came from the library at the botanical garden at Nancy, France.

    André's hybrid was published in Revue Horticole in 1891, not Revue Hortic as I originally posted. The plant was crossed by the brothers Chantrier who were gardeners at Mortefontaine and they used Alocasia lowii and Alocasia sanderiana as the parent plants. André published the plant using the name "mortefontanensis". Since Alocasia lowii is now correctly known as a natural variation of Alocasia longiloba the plant would technically have the same parents as the plant created in Miami by Salvadore Mauro since he used A. watsoniana Hort.x Alocasia sanderiana Hort. Alocasia watsoniana is also a synonym of Alocasia longiloba Miq.

    Even though two of the parents look different they are genetically the same species which makes this terribly confusing and difficult for anyone that does not study plant species to rapidly grasp. However, André never referred to the plant as Alocasia x amazonica.

    The two hybrids are technically one and the same which would easily lead a researcher to give credit to André for the hybrid but the name Alocasia Amazonica belongs to Salvadore Mauro and it is strictly my opinion he should have credit for the name he coined, not André.

    I have no desire to not give André or the brothers Chantrier credit for their work which was published more than 100 years ago. I simply believe Salvadore Mauro should have the honor of having his name associated with the name he created.

    André should also have credit for his paper on the Alocasia hybrid he called "mortefontanensis" but it should not be called Alocasia Amazonica.

    Since I was reminded this morning this is simply a " mere tempest in a teapot".I'm done!

    If you find the idea of natural variation a foreign concept read this: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Natural variation within aroid and plant species.html
     

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    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Well, I for one have been extremely interested in this. Thank you.
     
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Botanist Alistair Hay explains why the term Alocasia x amazonica should not be used here:

    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=59149

    I received a copy of André's Revue Horticole published in 1891 from the botanical garden in Nancy, France and he refers to his plant only as Alocasia mortefontanensis. The terms Alocasia Amazonica nor Alocasia x amazonica are never used.
     

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