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The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica By John Banta]
Mon, 16 Nov 2009 10:54:50 -0600
Discussion of aroids
Below are the facts about theorigination of Alocasia Amazonica as related by long time InternationalAroid Society member John
Banta. For those that are not unacquainted with the names in John'sinformation these are some of the original founders of
the IAS. John is considered somewhat "legendary" as a grower and hasoften been lovingly known as "The Banta". In addition,
although not mentioned in John's piece, both John and I want to creditJulius Boos for his input. Julius has tried for years to correct themisconceptions about this plant. If there is a living legendary figurein the IAS other than John it would be Julius!
I now realize as aresult of thehelp of many of you what we know as Alocasia Amazonica is likely avariety of hybrid plants, not necessarily the original as Johndescribes. Some have a velvet appearance while others do not sodifferent parents must be involved.
Still, I can't figure out why the plant is credited to EdouardF André on the NationalBotanic Garden of Belgium website. Someone in Europe that can hasaccess to their records is going to have to explain that part.
The Myth and the Truth About Alocasia Amazonica
By John Banta
I guess that it is just another burden that oldmen must endure. We see facts known to us as true replaced by logicalmyths.
Unfortunately, Monroe Birdsey, Bob See and Ralph Davis whom all knewSalvadore Mauro, a great plantsman are all dead.
I was fortunate enough to have visited Sam’s nursery with Monroe. Thevisit was a result of my questioning Monroe why in the
world an Asiatic genus, Alocasia, was given the name, ‘Amazonica’? Monroe’s skill in teaching is illustrated by his
response. He made a phone call and then insisted that I accompany himto a friend’s nursery. We drove out to near the Miami
airport. Sam lived on about a quarter acre lot just off 36th Street. Behind his small house was a large (about 20X30 foot
cement block enclosure roofed over with snow fencing. ( for those ofyou who have never lived in snow country; snow
fencing is about 4 feet tall and composed of 1 inch wide wooden slatswoven together with 14 gauge galvanized wire leaving
about a 1 inch gap between the slats.) His growing area was magical,the cement blocks were covered with algae, moss and
ferns and the benches crowded with beautifully grown foliage plantssuch as Homalomena wallisi ‘ Mauro’ that he introduced in
the 1950's. Sam was killed in an automobile accident while at work as apostman on one of the three wheeled motor bikes
used back in those days. Well, back to our story. As we approached abench of Alocasias I asked Sam how Alocasia amazonica got it’s name.He answered ,” I guess it could have been named for a nursery!”
I asked who made the hybrid? Sam and Monroe had a good laugh at myexpense. I had not noticed the small sign as we entered; ‘AmazonNursery’ I asked what the parents were. Sam’s smile quickly darkened.He was upset that it was erroneously reported
to be A. sanderiana X a. lowii whereas it was in reality A. sanderianaX watsoniana. Years later I remade the hybrid as Sam
suggested I should to verify the parents. All of the seedlings came upas easily identified as A. “Amazonica”. I believe
without a doubt that the true origin of Alocasia Amazonica was in Sam’snursery in the 1950's.
I only wish that some of our departed plantsmen were still around formore reasons than to vouch for Sam’s accomplishments.