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Thread: ICPS - Cephalotus article by Richard Nun, Volume 43 March 2014

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    ICPS - Cephalotus article by Richard Nun, Volume 43 March 2014

    Permission from ICPS was sort from author to put into all forums.

    Here the whole PDF file with the pictures can be downloaded:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/padc7yy2hh...l-43-01-05.pdf


    News and Views .

    Cephalotus follicularis cultivars and forms in cultivation –
    is there a basis for the current naming protocols?

    Richard Nunn • richardjnunn1@gmail.com

    Keywords: Cephalotus follicularis, cultivation, cultivar.

    Volume 43 March 2014

    Over the past few years the author has watched with interest as cultivators of Cephalotus follicularis have attempted to find some points of difference to apply cultivar names, some registered, most not. Unfortunately, in what appears to be a push for commercial gain, the current plethora of cultivar names has reached the point of ridiculous, and one which unfortunately is also gaining popularity with other genera of carnivorous plants. Human nature is such that when we get bitten by the collecting bug we want to have every species or variation of it in our collections and I fear that this is now occurring with C. follicularis. The objective of this article is to try and bring some common sense to the naming of C. follicularis forms and preventing collectors from wasting their money on dubious and spurious forms and cultivars of this plant. Having, over the past 30 years cultivated this genus (with varying levels of success) and in the past decade documented and photographed this plant in multitudes of locations in its natural habitat, I feel that I have some basis for passing comment on this topic. The assertions in this article are my own views, but are supported by similar views of authorities such as Phill Mann, Allen Lowrie, and Greg Bourke, who have seen and studied C. follicularis at multiple locations in its natural habitat and cultivated many clones of this plant.
    For a number of years Phill Mann and I have been trying to find stable variations in C. follicularis, but in cultivation they always tend to revert to the mean, and plants from different sites that looked different in the field (see figures) tend to all end up looking pretty similar in the same conditions. Sure some plants color up a bit more and others might produce a larger pitcher, but it is often not the most colorful or largest pitchers from the field that translate into these specimens in cultivation. I think it is worth noting that any collected specimens were done legally under permit and only cuttings taken so as not to remove any plants. A simple comparison between C. follicularis and Dionaea and Sarracenia cultivars shows that the latter hold true to form when basic conditions such as light, temperature, and water levels are met, i.e. a Sarracenia 'Adrian Slack' tends to look the same for most growers who have a basic idea of how to grow them, the same cannot be said for C. follicularis. Sure if you want to grow them under high intensity light they will color up and some will show different shades to others, but this is not how they grow in the field.
    Having seen many natural sites and cultivated plants over the years, the conclusion I arrive at is that C. follicularis is very reactive to its micro habitat. There are some broad generalizations that hold true, in bright light the plants will color up and the pitchers tend to be smaller and more robust, in shade the pitchers can attain impressive dimensions and tend to stay green or lightly colored. However, to add to the confusion, plants in the field have been observed that behave in the opposite manner. In fact, at most sites in the wild, C. follicularis can be quite variable in terms of color, pitcher size, and growth habit. Often two plants growing next to each other will have different color and size. So what causes this variation, is it genetic or is it the micro habitat variables, such as nutrients, water, light, substrate, and temperature variation, all of which can vary subtly across one individual location? To be clear, the scientific research hasn’t been carried out to answer this conclusively. However, my observations, and those of others that have significant knowledge of this species both in its natural habitat and in cultivation, would point towards differences being environmentally induced rather than genetically.
    Currently there are three registered C. follicularis cultivars, 'Eden Black', 'Hummer’s Giant', and 'Clayton’s T Rex', all of which I would question the validity. In no way do I want to down play the work done by the authors of these cultivars. I think we would all like to believe there are different forms of C. follicularis worthy of our collections; however, I have always been skeptical, because fundamentally C. follicularis differences are unstable in cultivation. They may hold true for one grower with unique conditions and for the next with good, but slightly different growing conditions, they won’t color up or the pitchers will only be of an average size.
    Along the same lines is the disturbing emergence of names such as “Big Boy”, “German Giant”, “vigorous clumping”, and “squat”. These names are just simply not valid and there is enough evidence on the web to suggest that growers are struggling to find much difference in these clones in their conditions. The bottom line is they aren’t stable and people are wasting their money.
    Where things have got really stupid is the emergence of names such as “Phill Mann” or “Allen Lowrie” being put on these plants and people actually collecting them. I can understand collectors putting the source of their plants on the back of the label, but to actually use this as a point of difference is ridiculous. In fact, most of the original clones of C. follicularis in cultivation today originated from Allen or Phill some 30 plus years ago, others would have been from plants collected by botanic gardens. Either way, the provenance of these plants is patchy to say the least. Let's use C. follicularis “Phill Mann” as an example. Over many years Phill has built up stock from legally collected cuttings (that means under permit) from plants from many sites. I have been in his greenhouse and they are all mixed up. Same story with Allen Lowrie, (again from legally collected cuttings) who clearly markets his plants as from a mix of multiple clones and sites. So if you are buying a piece of plant that has been labeled “Phill Mann” or “Allen Lowrie”, which clone are you getting, what location is it from? No one really knows. This is hardly a sensible way to categorize cultivars of C. follicularis.
    It is easy to sit here and criticize attempts to categorize or split out different forms of C. follicularis without offering an alternative. I therefore propose that there is a more sensible approach to this issue. We are now seeing a few plants with location names entering cultivation, plants such as “Coalmine Beach” and “Two People’s Bay”. The problem for collectors is that the collection of these plants from the wild is strictly regulated and only a very few people have the necessary permits, particularly as the majority of C. follicularis sites are in National Parks. It will require some patience for properly named location clones of C. follicularis to enter cultivation, but over time it will happen. Knowing the provenance of a plant is valuable for several reasons, not least being that if a site is destroyed by man-made activity or act of nature, then we have a back-up in cultivation of genetic material that would otherwise be extinct. Also we know that C. follicularis is not stable in cultivation and it would make for interesting comparisons if collectors could discuss the variations in their plants from the same location. This is the same naming protocol that has taken hold with other genera of CPs. Specifically, Sarracenia and Nepenthes have been classified in cultivation using location names for some time.
    I have no doubt this article will raise some debate, but I hope that some sanity will prevail and that the current naming of C. follicularis forms, which cynically seems to be aimed at commercial gain, will not take hold. Also the scientists in the CP community will probably criticize the lack of true research and data to support the claims in this work, but perhaps also it might encourage more detailed field research to unlock the secrets of this enigmatic species.

    Volume 43 March 2014



    Here the whole PDF file with the pictures can be downloaded

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/padc7yy2hh...l-43-01-05.pdf

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    Moderator Cindy's Avatar
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    These are pitchers from different plants I grew in 2009 which I was pretty proud to own. Then I found out from Phill Mann (after he saw the pic) that he propagates and sells cuttings ONLY from two of his plants.

    Cindy

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    Quote Originally Posted by DND View Post
    Currently there are three registered C. follicularis cultivars, 'Eden Black', 'Hummer’s Giant', and 'Clayton’s T Rex', all of which I would question the validity. In no way do I want to down play the work done by the authors of these cultivars. I think we would all like to believe there are different forms of C. follicularis worthy of our collections; however, I have always been skeptical, because fundamentally C. follicularis differences are unstable in cultivation. They may hold true for one grower with unique conditions and for the next with good, but slightly different growing conditions, they won’t color up or the pitchers will only be of an average size.
    Along the same lines is the disturbing emergence of names such as “Big Boy”, “German Giant”, “vigorous clumping”, and “squat”. These names are just simply not valid and there is enough evidence on the web to suggest that growers are struggling to find much difference in these clones in their conditions. The bottom line is they aren’t stable and people are wasting their money.
    Much of this applies to Dionaea cultivars and "garden names" too in my opinion. Last year alone there were about 6 dozen Dionaea cultivars regsitered.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    "Sure if you want to grow them under high intensity light they will color up and some will show different shades to others, but this is not how they grow in the field."

    If anything is insane, it is this argument. Sure, you can grow plants in pots and observe obvious differences between them, but they never grow in pots in the wild, so there aren't actually any real differences between them. Nunn acknowledges that plants can appear different in habitat and cultivation, but claims that the phenotypes are environmentally generated. His evidence is growers' results in pots. The problem is that this evidence is irrelevant if we are going to use his criterion of growing them as they live in nature. In other words, if we are going to dismiss HID light induced leaf color differences as having any genetic basis because wild plants never grow under HID lights, we should also dismiss any results from anyone's potted plant trials, since wild plants never grow in pots, are never hand watered, never live in greenhouses, etc. What I know for sure is that I grew a clone I got directly from Geoff Wong, a clone I got directly from Phill Mann, and Hummer's Giant in the same 10 x 20 flat, in the same mix, the same size pot, under the same lights, for 7-15 years (depending on the clone) and they were stably phenotypically different. Nunn is free to hypothesize that the observed differences were purely attributable to some subtle environmental difference, but the burden's on him to back that up IMO. But again, he can't really, since he's already told us that phenotypic differences observed in unnatural conditions should be ignored. "Stupidity" and "insanity" are strong words; I don't think Nunn's internally inconsistent argument justifies their use.

    His key premise--that "Phill Mann", "Allen Lowrie" "German Giant" etc are "stupid" cultivar names seems misguided, because I'm not aware of anyone viewing these as cultivar names. He's quite right that people will try to collect as many different Cephalotus clones as possible. He is "skeptical" about the 3 actual cultivar names in circulation, but his evidence in support of the skepticism is dismissable based on his own premises. He suggests that it would be ideal if material from known locations were distributed to growers. I agree that would be great, but of course it wouldn't address his desire for phenotypically stable cultivars, since he insists that Cephalotus is unusually phenotypically plastic and sensitive to the slightest environmental variation.

    Ultimately, there is indeed "a basis for the current naming protocols." If someone got a clone from Phill Mann, they add that information when they circulate the plant. Like I said, Nunn alleges that someone foolishly thinks that's a sane cultivar name, but I don't know who that person is aside from Nunn. I'm repeating myself, but the fundamental problem is that Nunn wants it both ways--when plants grown together in cultivation appear phenotypically different, he says we should dismiss that as evidence of genetic difference because the conditions are unnatural. But on the other hand, common garden experiments are his sole evidence for the belief that Cephalotus are exceptionally phenotypically plastic. This is dirty pool.

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    Whimgrinder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DND View Post
    Over the past few years the author has watched with interest as cultivators of Cephalotus follicularis have attempted to find some points of difference to apply cultivar names, some registered, most not. Unfortunately, in what appears to be a push for commercial gain, the current plethora of cultivar names has reached the point of ridiculous, and one which unfortunately is also gaining popularity with other genera of carnivorous plants. Human nature is such that when we get bitten by the collecting bug we want to have every species or variation of it in our collections and I fear that this is now occurring with C. follicularis. The objective of this article is to try and bring some common sense to the naming of C. follicularis forms and preventing collectors from wasting their money on dubious and spurious forms and cultivars of this plant. Having, over the past 30 years cultivated this genus (with varying levels of success) and in the past decade documented and photographed this plant in multitudes of locations in its natural habitat, I feel that I have some basis for passing comment on this topic. The assertions in this article are my own views (emphasis mine), but are supported by similar views of authorities such as Phill Mann, Allen Lowrie, and Greg Bourke, who have seen and studied C. follicularis at multiple locations in its natural habitat and cultivated many clones of this plant.
    Without diving into the murky pool of phenotype VS genotype (murky waters indeed), I would like to point out that, although the author uses some unfortunately inflammatory adjectives to opine on the subject, the emphasis of the article is to point out a couple of specific problems with the process of selecting and naming of C. follicularis cultivars:

    There is an unfortunate and questionable practice of naming any and every "cultivar" that comes under the scrutinizing gaze of commercial entities* whose only aim is to capitalize on a unique individual - "unique" being a determination made using iffy criteria and circumventing the process of legitimate cultivar naming protocol. I doubt that any of us who gave this a moments consideration would argue in favor of naming each and every "unique" individual as a legitimate cultivar. This only pollutes the "knowledge base" of plants we hold in esteem and to which we attach monetary value. The arbitrary designation of cultivar status and the subsequent elevation of commercial worth is to be discouraged.

    It is human nature to want to gather into our possession every magnificent and unique instance of a genus or species we hold in esteem and in whose cultivation we invest unreasonable amounts of time and energy (not to mention money). However, it can be extremely unhelpful and damaging to our understanding of a species like C. follicularis to give in to the urge to name and share under such name every plant we arbitrarily assign "special" value. If you dare to look at facts and only the observable, knowable facts about the plants you own, very few of us can meaningfully assign special status to any of the clones we grow -- meaningful enough to stand up to the scrutiny of the cultivar naming protocols the community regards as having any real merit.
    The act of wanting something to be true doesn't automatically make it so, no matter how much will power is employed to force an arbitrary nugget of information to be alchemically changed into a fact.

    I believe that only selections that have been through the process of proper cultivar registration should be considered as "viable and true", and all other individuals be regarded as something much more "gray area" in terms of legitimacy. By legitimizing scores unregistered cultivars we risk generating a huge volume of especially unhelpful, corrupt data about the species and this can lead to a lot of misinformation pandered as fact. I have seen an awful lot of well-meaning but erroneous information shared on the various forums about the care and cultivation of specific plants/clones, and I would very much like to see people apply more caution in choosing what information they share with others as "fact". I suspect this arbitrary clonal designation issue has a similarly disquieting effect on the author of the above article, and so I forgive him the use of confrontational and somewhat impatient/intolerant language to describe a legitimate problem. I urge readers to overlook some of the abrasive language and try to "see the forest for the trees", as the saying goes.

    *(and some of the private collectors too, more often with the misguided notion that each and every plant has unique and valuable traits)
    Last edited by Whimgrinder; 03-02-2014 at 09:30 PM.

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    I've been collecting "clones" of Cephalotus for quite a few years and have many grown leaf pulls of each of those clones. While I can notice some differences between the clones I'm growing others are not noticing the same things with the same plant they have (we have the same plant via trading). This supports the article. Many of us could post pages of photos showing the same clone, in the same medium, in the pot size, in the same watering method, under the same light, the same age Ceph with very difference pitcher size/coloration. Yes even the coveted Hummer's Giant. Many of us have thought there is another factor we are simply missing that is causing these differences and possibly contributing to the mass of named Cephs appearing.

    I for one agreed with most of the article and will reread it later when I have more time.

    If I removed the labels from my Emu Point and Big Boy that are growing side by side in my windowsill I would not be able to identify them. Probably due to $$$ a lot of Cephs are being named that don't need a name. If you can not ID it without a label at some point in its lifecycle it should not have a clone name imo. Lifecycle = plantlets, full grown pitchers, leaves, flowers, seeds. Something should be IDable.

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    Whimgrinder you assume the same false premise as Nunn and therefore pointlessly beat the same straw man. Who are these people who think "Phill Mann" or "Allen Lowrie" is a cultivar name? No one has ever "designated" C. follicularis from Phill Mann or Allen Lowrie as cultivars, so there's no point insisting that these imaginary people have greatly erred. Don't you consistently depict and discuss plants as being "BE" or "Wistuba" or "EP"? Wouldn't it be foolish to argue that you are part of this terrible problem of "designating" clones from wistuba or BE as cultivars, since that's not what you are doing when you add that information? This remains a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing, "arbitrary nuggets" notwithstanding. Long time growers will undoubtedly note the irony that Nunn's recommended behavior--satisfying the collector's urges by circulating material from known habitats--was roundly criticized by Barry Rice in a similarly incendiary piece from 96.
    http://carnivorousplants.org/cpn/art...n4p122_124.pdf

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    "Here is an example of the kind of problem we face: there will undoubtedly be people who obtain seed from 'Eden Black' and they will raise plants that look a lot like the parent clone, and they will refer to (and probably share/sell the plant!) under the clonal designation 'Eden Black'. Bad idea!" --Whimgrinder

    This comment illustrates a common misconception about the purpose and application of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. Cultivar names, even when originally applied to a unique individual, apply to *all* individual plants that meet the cultivar description, irrespective of their origin. The names are not and never have been intended to be guarantees of clonal identity. They simply aren't "clonal designations." They are supposed to guarantee phenotypes, not genotypes. If seedlings of 'Eden Black' x self match the description of 'Eden Black', they are 'Eden Black.' If individuals pop up from 2 different batches of seed from 2 different habitats, and they match the description of 'Eden Black', they are 'Eden Black.' This is not my opinion, it is a fact about the rules and their application. And regrettable as it may be for people who wish the names served as guarantees of clonal identity, it should be obvious why the rules work this way. It is precisely because in 100 years (if not today), it will be very difficult for anyone to know with confidence that some particular plant really came from Stephen Morley, was really clonally propagated from his plant, etc. That person has only one recourse--to consult the description and see if the plant matches the description. If it matches the description, it's 'Eden Black', even if it is known not to have come from Morley. The name applies to a phenotype, not a genotype. Everyone is free to decide whether they like this feature of the "viable and true" registration process. But let's make sure there is no confusion about the process.

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