Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 17 May 2005 20:18:56 PDT
Dear All,

Summarizing from past discussions of some of the South American Irids some 
of the genera that people confuse are Phalocallis, Cypella, Hesperoxiphion, 
Herbertia, and Alophia. For most of us the differences are not very clear, 
but that is probably because there are only a few species commonly grown by 
most of us and very little information about them in generalist books we 
might possess. Therefore I am sharing some information I received in the 
past from another bulb forum from Eric Walton and Alberto Castillo. 
According to Eric Walton from New Zealand many years ago the difference 
between Cypella and Phalocallis was some detail in anther morphology. 
Phalocallis was merged into Cypella by someone although you still see it 
used at times.

There is apparently a difference in anther morphology between Cypella and 
Hesperoxiphion, but there are species that are the same thing that some 
people think of as Cypellas and some as Hesperoxiphion. According to the 
Innes book on Iridaceae that Alberto doesn't like but which is the only 
book I have that addresses this, species have been moved back and forth 
between these two genera. He describes Hesperoxiphion as having a several 
flowered spathe. Blades of the inner segments are hirsute or pubescent. 
Hesperoxiphion herrerae is described as flowering between December to April 
at Cuzco at altitudes 3000-3600 m with violet, blue and yellow flowers. 
Outer segments are violet or deep blue, inner segments paler blue, and the 
blade has yellow bearded markings.

Perhaps Alberto can explain the difference between all these genera.

For Jim McKenney I found this from Eric: "In case you are interested 
Cypella is from the
?Greek for cup and Hesperoxiphion is from 'Hespero' evening or western and 
'xiphioides' sword-like, but 'xiphium' is the greek name for Gladiolus.  I 
think the first species described was H. peruvianum, since the flower does 
not open in the evening, I would suggest that it means something like 
'western gladiolus'."

Now for Herbertia versus Alophia. Eric said that Herbertia species were all 
winter growers, except H. tigridiodes.  Alophias were summer growers. The 
inner tepals of Herbertia were small whereas Alophia's tepals were quite 

Now here is something I saved from years ago from Alberto that he provided 
me for a topic of the week on Alophia and Herbertia when I was doing the 
topic of the week for the IBS bulbs forum.

"Alophia/Trifurcia/ Herbertia
The confusion between Alophia and Herbertia comes from decades ago when the 
name Alophia was used for South American species. Dr. Goldblatt published 
articles describing both genera. Currently the genus name Herbertia 
comprises exclusively South American spp. occurring in Chile, Argentina, 
Paraguay, Uruguay, and S. Brazil. Basically, they have blue or violet 
flowers with three large outer tepals and three comparatively much smaller 
inner ones.
Below are arranged according to their cultivation requirements those 
species botanically described along with others that we have discovered in 
our trips with Dr. O'Farrell and others.

After Alophia the name Trifurcia was used and now Herbertia
Dry winter dormant, full sun, alkaline well drained soil, dry regions. NW 
H. tigridioides
Dry summer dormant, full sun, neutral to alkaline well drained soils, 
dryish regions. C. Chile
H. lahue
Summer dormant with year round rains, alkaline clayey soils, full sun. E. 
Argentina and Uruguay
H. lahue ssp. amoena
Dry winter dormant often under quite cold conditions, alkaline soils, full 
sun. Gulf States
H. lahue ssp. caerulea
Summer dormant with year round rains, full sun, acid clayey soils, 
practically frost free to subtropical regions. E. Argentina, Uruguay, S. Brazil
H. quareimana (previously known as H. amatorum)
H. pulchella
H. sp. Entre Rios Prov., Argentina, undescribed
H. sp. W. Uruguay, undescribed
H. sp. W. Brazil, undescribed
H. sp. N. Corrientes Prov., undescribed
As with all tigridioids it is very difficult to identify them from a 
written description. A good picture would be advisable. Best of all would 
be to keep and send the flowers in 50% water and 50% medicinal alcohol. In 
this solution such flowers could be kept for decades without changes 
maintaining in a perfect condition their shape. It is also very important 
to describe the seed capsules as they vary in shape from species to 
species. Bulbs of most of the species in this genus would never offset and 
must be propagated from seed in a well aerated mixture. They must not be 
overdried while dormant. Bulbs in the wild are found deep, some 15 cm. or 
more. If grown in containers, do not use small pots. A one gallon container 
or bigger is advisable to obtain seed. If you send me a picture of your 
unidentified species I will be pleased to help.

Alophia as described now is a small genus of the N. American subcontinent. 
Their flowers have a broad central cup and narrow outer tepals. In all, are 
very different to Herbertias. As for cultivation, they are dry winter 
dormant and best grown under warm conditions. Species are five and occur in 
Mexico and the Gulf States. Mostly found in alkaline soils in meadows in 
full sun."

We actually have some good pictures on the wiki of some of the species in 
these four genera so those people who are curious could give them a look. I 
hope this helps clarify things and will allow Dave to rename his mystery 
bulb pictures and move them to the Hesperoxiphion wiki page (syn. Cypella 
herrerae Diels).

Mary Sue

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