Allium zebdanense

Jim McKenney
Mon, 23 Apr 2007 07:11:53 PDT
Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to lead us through that interesting

As I read your well informed comments, I’m reminded that what we’re doing
here is a lot like what happens when a taxonomist approaches naming a  new
entity. In this case, I’m not sure we have actually established that there
is an “entity” to be named. Important as the nomenclatural history is, in
itself it will not answer my question: is there  an entity which corresponds
to the nurseryman’s name “cowanii” and is  this entity in fact somehow
different than nurseryman’s “neapolitanum”.  

You seem to be convinced that there is not. You make a strong case for the
point of view that “cowanii” and “neapolitanum” are the same thing. I have
no quibbles with the point of view that at the rank species they are the
same, and your lengthy and interesting citation of the nomenclatural history
makes it clear that anyone taking another point of view on that issue
doesn’t have much if any wiggle room. 

But as far as I’m concerned, we have yet to reach the point in this
discussion where that nomenclatural history has much if any relevance. What
I mean it this: we still need to determine if there is an entity which
corresponds to the nurseryman’s name “cowanii” and if this entity is in fact
somehow different than nurseryman’s “neapolitanum”. 

I’ve read that there is a plant grown as “cowanii” (and in so-calling it
this, I don’t mean to imply that it deserves this name, or that it is the
plant originally called cowanii) which is distinguished from nurseryman’s
“neapolitanum” by having larger individual flowers and longer scapes. I’ve
read further that this is the form preferred for the cut flower market. 

I would like now to hear from other growers on this matter, especially
commercial growers: is there something out there being grown and distributed
(rightly or wrongly) under the name Allium cowanii which is for
horticultural purposes distinct from what is typically offered as Allium

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where a high of 87º F is
predicted for today – and I’m predicting fried tulips. Crocus tournefortii
has seed capsules up above ground already. 

My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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