Allium zebdanense

Jim McKenney
Sun, 22 Apr 2007 07:44:22 PDT
Mark McDonough wrote: "When will the horticultural industry finally give up
on the silly misnomer A. "cowanii", which is really A. neapolitanum.  It was
just a horticultural "faux pas" which persists and persists."

Mark, aren't there really at least two separate issues involved here? 

If, as you say, the plant known as Allium cownaii and A. neapolitanum are
conspecific, that is one issue. Most sources I've used have acknowledged
this for a long time.

However, there is another aspect of this from our perspective as gardeners:
over and over I've seen the statement that Allium cownaii is a taller plant
than A. neapolitanum. If growers suddenly decide to be correct in
nomenclature, then the distinction between the tall form and other shorter
forms will be lost. The fact that growers have maintained this distinction
for a long time suggests that many growers believe that, from a
horticultural point of view, it's an important distinction. 

To tell the truth, I've never been sure what it is I've grown over the
years. The plants I've received under the name Allium neapolitanum have
varied enough to suggest that some sort of monkey business is going on. Some
have been short, some have been taller, some have had smooth green leaves,
some had had leaves with short hairs, some have smaller individual flowers
than others ...

With respect to the name Allium cownaii, maybe the reason this name persists
is that it is not simply a horticultural faux pas, it is a validly published
name. That circumstance is in itself no good reason to use it, but it will
never go away and will always be part of the literature. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where we're headed for the
low 80s F today.

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

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