Plant Database forum: Heather confusion

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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Apr 17, 2015 9:17 PM CST
I just bought a heather tagged as Erica x darleyensis 'Eva Gold' which I cannot locate in the database. I do find various Erica darleyensis cultivars and other Erica x darleyensis cultivars, but nothing with Eva Gold. I'm not real sure what the x means (other than I suppose some sort of cross). Shall I just propose it as tagged? Ever confused bonehead...
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Apr 18, 2015 1:21 AM CST

Plants Admin

This is an interesting case. We have Erica x darleyensis listed in our database, but we probably shouldn't. According to the Catalogue of Life, no such name exists. The Plant List calls it an unresolved name, which usually means it doesn't exist.

The "x" before a species name denotes a hybrid taxon -- a natural hybrid of two species. Sometimes these names disappear because the two species turn out to be the same plant. I remember when many plants were sold as Spiraea x bumalda, for instance. It was supposed to be a cross between Spiraea albiflora and Spiraea japonica. Then S. albiflora was discovered to be a mere synonym of S. japonica, so the hybrid taxon no longer existed because it was a cross between S. japonica and S. japonica -- in other words, not a cross at all.

I just did some digging and found that this is exactly what happened to Erica x darleyensis. It was supposed to be a natural hybrid of E. carnea and E. erigena. I see that Erica erigena is now a synonym for Erica carnea subsp. occidentalis, so I'll have to clean up our database accordingly and change a lot of entries tomorrow. I've added Erica carnea 'Eva Gold' for you.

Heather (Erica carnea 'Eva Gold')

Sorry to talk your ear off in this post, but I found this interesting. Smiling
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Apr 18, 2015 8:33 AM CST
Thanks, Zuzu, both for the correct entry and for the history. I'm always interested in how/why plant names change, even though I find it frustrating at times. I'll add this in to My List and also add a photo - although it is done blooming and quite small still (4" pot).
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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