Schizostylis/Hesperantha a confused genus--TOW

J.E. Shields
Thu, 20 Feb 2003 05:37:36 PST
Hi all,

I have tried to grow Schizostylus here, and haad the cv. 'Big Mama' with a 
large pink flower for a while.  It bloomed, although quite late.  It mights 
still be there, but has not bloomed the last year or two.  The species is 
planted in a different spot and is probably much drier as well as somewhat 
shaded -- at the east edge of a small grove of sumac trees.  It has never 

As for DNA, well, think about the tracking of disease-causing genes in 
human families.  There are differences between genetic individuals within 
almost all species.  While in the case of Schizostylus coccineus, all 
cultivars may be of the same species, in other plant groups they may not 
be.   Clivias and Daylilies come to mind, for example.  Moreover, in the 
case of clivias,  Keith Hammett's co-workers in New Zealand can distinguish 
Belgian strain Clivia miniata from German strain C. miniata by DNA 
analysis.   There is tremendous potential, actually for probably the first 
time ever for most plant genera, for identifying name-lost plants as old 
cvs now, if any reference DNA is available for the original cultivar.

Is there any other species or hybrid in the genus Hesperantha that can 
survive in cold climates?  Are there any other cultivars of H. coccinea 
that bloom earlier or are hardier than the species in cold climates?  I'd 
like to try some more varieties of South African irids for their hardiness 
here in our cold, wet winters and hot, wet summer.

Using DNA results as grounds to move a plant from one group to another 
seems to cause a lot of horticulturists a problem.  To me it seems 
supremely logical.  Since the DNA is the essence of a living organism, and 
indeed largely a record of its evolutionary history, it seems to me to be 
the best possible evidence for classification of a species.  But then, I'm 
a biochemist, and neither a botanist nor a horticulturist.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana, where the snow is starting to melt as the sun has come 
out again

At 03:05 PM 2/19/03 -0800, Mary Sue wrote:
>Dear All,
>There hasn't been much response to Alan's Topic of the week, 
>I confess to knowing very little about how dna is used except that it 
>often leads to plants that I have finally learned to identify being 
>renamed but I am very intrigued with someone thinking they could tell the 
>difference between cultivars using this method. I guess I always assumed 
>that cultivars would all have the same dna as they would be the same species.
>Mary Sue

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA                   Tel. +1-317-896-3925

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