Plant Database forum: Happy crown agaves (Kissho Kan etc.)

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Nov 1, 2016 12:27 PM CST
Just a note to explain some changes needed in the agave department.

There is an agave called "happy crown" or "lucky crown" (Asian origin) whose name appears spelled variously, including

Kichijokan (published "correct" spelling)
Kissho Kan

the main problem being (as I understand it) these are loose transliterations of the Chinese characters applied to this plant. Complicating matters further is the existence of (at least) one variegated form of this plant which has been called similar names.

Based on the published descriptions in Greg Starr's 2012 agave book, where he lays out the whole story, I have suggested a name change to these plants as they exist in the database. First, adding "Kichijokan" as the primary name for this plant, and including the current "Kichiokan" as an also-sold-as.

Agave (Agave potatorum 'Kichijokan')

Second, and I would need admin help for this change, the entry for the variegated "Kichijokan" needs to be merged with the existing "Kissho Kan" (yup that's the name of the variegated plant), or I suppose deleted entirely.

Agave (Agave potatorum 'Kissho Kan')

It should be noted that there are several variegated versions of this plant out there (see examples on this page)

But the variegated version normally found for sale is called Kissho Kan and these other plants are rather exotic and uncommon. Having a separate entry for a variegated "Kichijokan" strikes me as doubly confusing, (1) because there's already a name for that plant, and (2) the other variegates would require much more specific attributes in the name to be identifiable (again, see the PDN page).

I would appreciate admin help dealing with the deletion/merging of the variegated agave listing above. Thank You! Thank You!
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Nov 1, 2016 12:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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Nov 1, 2016 1:09 PM CST

Plants Admin

I've merged the two, Baja. Thank you for reporting this.

Agave (Agave potatorum 'Kissho Kan')
Name: Robert
East Central Alabama z8
Jan 14, 2018 12:52 AM CST
The species of this plant has not been established and is very much in question. Here is Greg Starr's discussion of the subject from the book, Agaves: Living Sculptures....
Thumb of 2018-01-14/SilkKnoll/3ba6ec

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Jan 14, 2018 10:08 AM CST
Please do not reproduce copyrighted material in the forums without permission.

Yes, the species origin of these plants is subject to much guesswork.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 14, 2018 10:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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Jan 14, 2018 11:58 AM CST
This plant is almost certainly a hybrid, though the parentage is unclear, rather than a sport from a straight up species. It has never been observed in the wild, making its origins very unclear. On another site devoted to Agaves someone has recently posted some not very clear pictures of a 'Kichijokan' in flower. The inflorescence strongly suggests a hybrid origin and certainly does not look like an A. potatorum inflorescence. Many experts suspect that Agave isthmensis is a more likely potential parent.

Many of the other plants the Baja references to above are specific selections of sports from the original 'Kichijokan' or 'Kissho Kan' that have been put into production via tissue culture, they are mostly not new hybrids or new heretofore unidentified species. So right now they should be considered as cultivars rather than new species. PDN while a great nursery does tend to bring out a lot of plants with fancy names, that when looked at in detail can often be identified as specific selections from already well known and named species. Nothing wrong with that as it clearly serves a significant number of Agave collectors/growers, but some of these cultivars have started making appearances as new species on other websites, causing significant confusion, because PDN is not always very clear in what exactly a newly named plant listed on their website represents.

To me, all these slightly different but mostly the same plants are just that variations on the same thing, but I know plenty of growers for whom even small differences in for example variegation patterns makes it worth having that plant even if they already have several of the same species with slightly different variegation, and without a strong guarantee that the variegation will remain stable. So naming them helps get these plants sold.

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