Re: Sarracenia flava complex

From: Phil Wilson (
Date: Mon Mar 15 1999 - 11:19:42 PST

Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 19:19:42 +0000
From: Phil Wilson <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg824$foo@default>
Subject: Re: Sarracenia flava complex

>> > Lastly does the cultural variety that Adrian Slack described as S.
>> >cv 'Maxima' in his Insect Eating Plants & How to Grow them, really exist?
>> >That is a clone that shows the blue gey tint at the pitcher & phyllode
>> >bases & the stately pitchers? It certainly sounded great at the time of
>> >reading!
>> Very definitely! Its a pretty common plants here in the UK though with
>> trade restrictions to other parts of the world is likely to remain
>> difficult to get there. Unfortunately the plant cannot be propagated by
>> seed since it is a cultivar and anyway, AFAIK does not breed true from
>> seed.
>_S. flava var. maxima_ is a botanical taxon. It was described first
>after cultivated specimens (by Masters in 1881; not by Slack, whose
>version of the name is simply an orthographical mistake,
>unfortunately not a rare one) but it is *not* a cultivar. It does
>occur in the wild (N & S Carolina, less frequent in Florida). After
>Don Schnell's clarification of the _S. flava_ varieties (CPN 27:116-
>120, 1998), I regard it as an accepted taxon in the cp database (not
>updated on the web yet!). It is distinguished by its green pitchers
>with no red venation or red coloration of throat (the bases of
>pitchers and cladophylls do have some red pigment, however).
The plant described by Slack in Insect Eating Plants and how to Grow
Them is not the same as the plant described by Masters and later
Schnell. The plant described by Slack is certainly distinct enough to be
regarded as different from other horticultural forms of the species.

>The plant with the mentioned blue-grey tint at the pitcher base may be
>described as a new cultivar, but it should in any event *NOT* be
>called "Maxima" (cultivar epithets should *not* be Latin, a Latin
>epithet can *only* be taken for a cultivar if it is coextensive with
>a previously described taxon bearing this Latin epithet, which is
>obviously *not* the case in our example: green-pitchered plants
>without blue-green tint at the base would belong to _var.maxima_ but
>not to the cultivar).
While I agree with all the above comments it does leave the grower with
a dilemma - what name do we use when we refer to this plant. There is no
questioning that Slack was wrong to use the term "Maxima" to describe
this plant though given the level of knowledge of carnivorous plants at
the time Slack was writing it is perhaps an understandable error.

More so when so many people are growing and referring to this particular
plant as Maxima it does make life very difficult. This is of course a
prime example of why there should be rules defining not only taxonomical
naming but also the naming of horticultural cultivars.

Perhaps once you have finalised the form for the registration of
cultivars this is one more plant which can be added to the list!

Phil Wilson
Check out my Sarracenia seed list at:

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