Volume 13, #1
Hoya polystachya Blume
Photo by David J. Liddle
The above is a collage of Hoya polystachya by the late, David J. Liddle. When he sent that to me, he gave me permission to use it. Re this picture: I suspect that the colour reproduction may not be completely accurate. I think the flowers are tinted with pink, rather than being such a pure yellow. The identification marker here is the short stubby pollinia. The other similar species have much longer pollinia with tapered tips.
Question: Hi, I have read your postings and you’ve always backed the information with proof. I’m asking about a hoya on auction, ‘polystachya’ (GPS 4075), and I would like to know if that is indeed the correct name for what is posted.” Sally Legos
Answer: I believe that it is not Hoya polystachya. Your question inspired me to get out a few files that I have been planning to review and share with all interested. These files contain a ton of correspondence with the late, David J. Liddle, who put in a lot of time trying to determine which of three different look alike (when out of bloom) species. Also, there were several other species (or more likely species names) that have been confused with them. At least one other identical appearing species name has been added since David sent his original data to me (Hoya tjadasmalangensis). It isn’t a new name. It has just recently been associated with the first three, which are Hoyas clandestina, macrophylla, polystachya. I’ll do my best to shed some light on these look alike species. It will have to be done in installments, as time for more study permits.
My Questions: I had asked David Liddle’s opinion about the identity of a specific hoya. I wrote to him and said, “Hoya macrophylla has always puzzled me because the one everyone tells me is it looks like Blume’s picture in Rumphia but none of the flower parts match his drawings at the bottom of that page.” I added: “I feel sure that the one Ted Green and his buddies sell as Hoya latifolia, and the one pictured as Hoya latifolia by R. Rintz, in The Malayan Nature Journal Vol. 30, #3/4 Sept. 1978, is actually Hoya polystachya.
David’s Answer (Dated10/22/2005): “As for Hoya macrophylla Blume, it appears that the lumpers have really screwed up this group. Blume wrote it all down in nice readable Latin but somehow it is confused, probably because the leaves are very similar. I suspect the most commonly grown plant is Hoya clandestina. Less frequently grown in Hoya macrophylla Blume. They are quite different to each other. Rarely available is Hoya polystachya.”
David’s Continuation (Dated 10/23/2005; “Chris, what I have noticed with Rumphia is that the coloured plates are drawn from what appears to be fresh material and the separate drawings of flower parts are of dried material, with a little artistic license thrown in, that is why they are so different. I also suspect there were two artists used to produce the plates, one for the plant and another for the flower parts, as the styles are different and consistent throughout the illustrations.”
confusion here is between Hoya macrophylla and Hoya
polystachya, and I still am looking for Hoya macrophylla but I
have 10 numbers left to flower and photograph.
We appear to have a lot of Hoya clandestina; one plant of Hoya
polystachya, and some really interesting things from
am attaching the draft I am working from to assist you. Also, attached are
pictures of Hoya clandestina and the plant I collected in
“I suspect you are right assuming the Rintz plant is Hoya polystachya, as it does not fit the flower descriptions of Hoya latifolia and is close to the Blume drawing.” Signed: David
*1. Note that Rintz placed Hoya macrophylla Wight (not Hoya macrophylla Blume) and Hoya polystachya Blume into synonymy with Hoya latifolia. He was dead in the water wrong. He stated right there on the same page that he had not seen the type material of Hoya latifolia. He had not seen the type material of Hoya macrophylla Wight and he had not seen the type material of Hoya polystachya Blume. In other words, in what is supposed to be a scientific publication, the man just guessed and passed his guess off as science! Note also that Hoya macrophylla Wight is not the same species as Hoya macrophylla Blume. Hoya macrophylla Wight, being a later publication had to have a new name. The new name it was given was, per the late Hon. Douglas H. Kent, who had access to the type specimen, Hoya latifolia G. Don. Hoya latifolia flowers are 2 to 3 times larger than those of Hoya macrophylla and their pedicels are formed on solitary peduncles. These peduncles are sometimes (not always) fascicled but most often (at least under my conditions) just one to a node. On the other hand, the umbels of Hoya clandestina are often in a pattern resembling deer antlers.
I have a lot more data on this group of plants but little time to sort all of it out so will do it piece-meal, as time allows and add to the subject here as/or if I come to some conclusion about any of them. And, by the way, there is a fourth species (or, as may be the case, a fourth name) to add to the mix. That is Hoya tjadasmalangensis Bakh. f. It is not a new name; just one only recently noted to look exactly like the other three, when not in bloom.
I’ll try to find the time to sort through all my files on these four names over winter and, it is hoped I’ll learn something more that I can share with you.
Hoya latifolia G. Don
Question: Just what hoya is Hoya buotii? --- Me
Answer: Unless a still earlier publication proves to
be this, the name, Hoya buottii, is
just a synonym for a previously published name, which is Hoya halconensis. The following is correspondence, concerning
this species, between the late David Liddle and me, dated
My letter to David: “Please find the publication of Hoya buotii Kloppenb. in Fraterna 15(4)2002- cover and pages 1-4. He didn’t describe the foliage so we don’t know its relative size but I believe it is a little over 12 cm. long by 5 to 5.50 cm. wide. I believe that this is the same species that Kloppenburg previously published as Hoya halconensis Schltr. ex. Kloppenb. The only difference I can see is that DK’s pictures show the hairs bordering the corolla lobes and in the center, to be a lot more in number and longer than Schlechter’s sketches indicate. One has to consider that Schlechter had old dried specimens to work with while DK had fresh flowers. My note, made while viewing the Schlechter specimens is that most of the corollas were damaged but I did see a few rather long hairs on some of them. In fact, if you look very carefully at the photocopy, you will find a few yourself.” I didn’t add, as should be obvious that those delicate hairs, if there, would likely rub off on a dried specimen stacked in a pile of other dried specimens and squeezed into drawers in the stacks of a herbarium.
David Liddle’s Answer to the
above letter, dated
In addition to the above, I am going out on a limb and say that I believe that Hoya alagensis Schltr. ex Kloppenb. is a variety (or subspecies) of this same species. The only difference I can see is that the Hoya alagensis leaves (at least those on the type specimen) are thicker than those of Hoya halconensis Schltr. ex Kloppenb.
Just to give you an example of this seed salesman’s observational skills, I’d like to critique his publication of the name, Hoya alagensis:
The first thing I noticed about Kloppenburg’s publication was that he took entire credit for the name. I don’t know if there is an ironclad law that says credit must be given to the name first given a specimen but I think there is because others have applied it in every other case I’ve seen (except a publication of mine back when I didn’t know what was what). Schlechter labeled that specimen as “Hoya alagensis Schltr.” but Kloppenburg published it as “Hoya alagensis Kloppenburg.” I believe he should have given credit where credit was due and applied the epithet of “Hoya alagensis Schltr. ex Kloppenb.”
I have always been advised to keep Latin diagnosis very short and to elaborate in my native tongue. Kloppenburg tries to include every major and every minor detail in Latin. It is Latin that is useless because he misspelled so many words that the average person would likely never learn what the description said anyway, as Latin stopped being a required high school subject about two years after I graduated. Most of his words are misspelled or in wrong tense. He was publishing a name on a herbarium sheet. He had never seen a living plant of it yet he had the audacity to tell us which view of two corolla lobe sketches were the top view and the bottom view. I don’t think he is a psychic. If he were, his ESP should keep him from being so wrong, so often..
In addition to that he illustrated it with what he called “Tracings of the holotype specimen.” His page of “Tracings” did not contain a scale. He labeled a tracing of an umbel of flowers as “Actual Size.” The actual size of that umbel of flowers he claimed to have “traced” is 4 times larger than his “tracing.” He “traced” only 1 and a half leaf, yet there were 6 leaves on the type specimen. The one nearly whole leaf he “traced” had its tip broken off. Two of the leaves he failed to “trace” are half the width of the one he “traced” and both have extremely long and pointed tips (not mentioned in his lengthy description)..
BELOW: COMPARISONS OF SCANNED PARTS OF HOYA ALAGENSIS Schltr. ex Kloppenb. and E. D Merrill’s specimen #5542, which Kloppenburg cited as the holotype specimen of this species.
Note; The two leaves on the right were whole but they appear cut off because Schlechter’s box of flower part sketches is pasted over their lower halves. It is easy to see the borders of these leaves and realize that the “almost whole” leaf on the left is not what one would expect all of the foliage to resemble.
Note also: The foliage in the center is not like the one on the left that Kloppenburg “traced.” It is shorter and fatter and he showed the stalks twice larger than they are because he did not know, as I do, that the dark part on the left side of the stalk was a shadow made by the light source of the copy machine.
Left: Kloppenburg’s “Tracing” of the umbel pictured on the right. Right: Same umbel scanned life size from the actual species.
Kloppenburg’s corolla lobe “Tracings.”
Schlechter’s original sketches scanned actual size that he drew them.
Note: Kloppenburg’s tracings are smaller than those he traced. Judging by the shapes of his center parts, he got the inner and outer views reversed. I know that those on the right are correct because I was able to examine actual flowers. Kloppenburg failed to show the “hair” in the center of the corolla or the damage to the outer surface, probably caused by removing the sepals.
I could take up a lot of space showing several other differences but, if the above illustrations don’t make you wonder about the accuracy of everything this senile, nearly a century old man publishes, then I’m just wasting my time.
You may ask, “How is it that you got
to see actual flowers and Kloppenburg only had pictures? The reason was that there is a man named Ted
Green who kept writing “hogwash” in gardening publications saying that no one
could ever prove that his labeling was wrong because all the original publications
were destroyed by Allied bombing in WW-2.
I wrote a piece in The Hoyan saying that all the
descriptions could have been destroyed only if one copy of a publication had
ever been printed and I was sure that was not true because I’d seen numerous
copies of all of them. I figured that it was the type specimens that he meant
when he said, original publications and commented on it in a letter that was
published in both
My greatest regret is giving Kloppenburg copies of all photo copies of those specimens but I did not know how irresponsibly he would use them.
MY MAIL BAG
I’ve been trying to catch up on answering
e-mail. I got so far behind that I think
most of my hoya friends thought I had either “kicked the bucket” or was ticked
off about something. I usually am ticked
off about something but not at most of the hoya lovers I know (just some of
them). My anger is almost always
directed at the slobs who throw trash out of their car windows for me to pick
up. Also for their kids who cut across
my back yard and leave it filled with their trash. I’m also ticked off at the neighbors who
sneak in at night and dig some of my choice shrubs and disappear with them. I am really ticked off at the Congress of the
My reason for getting so far behind in answering my e-mail is because, at my advanced age, everything takes longer than it once did and I have to spend so much time picking up discarded whiskey bottles, beer cans, cigarette packages, candy bar wrappers and even fine china and glassware that have been tossed in my back yard and along the street boundary of my property. I picked up two large garbage bags of it, just yesterday and today I noticed that it has already started to pile up again.
So, on to my mail bag: I asked a lot of you to tell me of your hoya growing successes and failures during the time since you last heard from me:
From Elisabeth Chan: “I am still growing hoyas with successes and failure and currently we are enveloped in toxic pollution in the form of thick and dangerous haze from forest burning from the Indonesian island of Sumatra blowing to Singapore across the straits of Malacca. So my outdoor exposure with a face mask is confined to watering the hoyas twice a day as it is hot, dry and smoky.”
From Melanie Myers: “My success would have to be the Hoya elliptica you rooted for me from a Liddle order. I keep the plant over my kitchen sink, which seems to be the best spot for it. The leaves are small but the plant is beautiful.”
From long time friend, Joyce
Blumenstock: “I have just 5 hoyas doing
well. 4 hang in the trees in
I wrote to Joyce and asked her the names of
those 5 hoyas that do well tied in trees in southern
Hoya rigida Kerr - Photo by David J. Liddle
Note the two green leaves on the left. They appear to be as much in the sun as the others. I suspect David must have moved the plant forward for photographing.
Question #1: The last time I visited you, you gave me a cutting labeled, “IML-1424:,” which I’ve read is actually, Hoya rigida. I didn’t realize until I got home that I already had a Hoya rigida. It is pictured in World of Hoyas,”* a book given to me by my sister, for my birthday. It looks nothing like the “IML-1424” I got from you. I’ve since seen pictures of one called “IML-1669.” It looks more like the one I got from you but it’s leaves are dark purple, with white veins. What gives here? … Penny Arlen.
* Penny enclosed a cutting of that one. I believe that what she has is Hoya pachyclada. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.
Answer to Question #1: First off, the one you saw pictured in World
of Hoyas is not Hoya rigida. As for IML-1424 and IML-1669 being different,
I’m not yet sure because my IML-1669 has not yet bloomed for me so I can’t
compare the flowers. Here is what the
late, David Liddle wrote about IML-1424 when I asked him why pictures I’d seen
of it had purple leaves, same as IML-1669 did but that the cuttings of IML-1424
he sent to me were green: He replied, “The purple colour of
the leaves is a trait of this species and is common in most of the clones we
have. It occurs in high light
conditions. We collected this particular
specimen, IML-1424, at Mae Nam Pra at the top of peninsular
So, if you want your Hoya rigida to have red to dark purple leaves, put it in sunshine. I suggest that you move it to sunshine in steps instead of moving it directly into full sun. Moving them suddenly from shade to bright sun could result in burning the leaves. Always move your potted plants from one type of growing area, whether from shade to sun, sun to shade, hot to cool or cool to hot, in stages. Sudden changes could cause loss of plants.
Question #2: I was just looking on eBay for a hoya that I lost some time ago. I was shocked to see 450 hoyas for sale there (all sizes and shapes and colours that I don’t believe exist). What is your take on that site? -- Julia Junos.
Answer to Question #2: I admit that I haven’t been paying attention to any on eBay except those I put there myself but your letter inspired me so I went on line and checked it. You are right. I found 450 listings. I, at first, just scrolled through counting pages (All
with 50 entries per page). Then I went back and scanned slowly to see just what those 450 were (as if, at my age, I have time to waste). What I saw was appalling. At least half of those listings were mislabeled or misspelled. Many species were listed with “cutesy” names, as if they were cultivars. There were made up species names that could not be valid because they don’t conform to the code. But, hey, I learned a long time ago that most hoya buyers will buy a “cutesy” name before they’d even consider buying the same hoya correctly labeled with its correct Latin name. We are a nation of “reverse snobbism.”
Manzella’s Sun Room in her new home in
Margaret wrote about moving from one location to another: “What an ordeal!!! I vowed this will be the LAST ONE. We do like our new surroundings much better, we are closer to the necessities of living. This house gives me a real sun room. It is not real big, but big enough. All the hoyas seem to like it even better than all the windows in the other house. I am beginning to get many blooms. They like the higher humidity and brightness I am able to keep in this room. I am wondering why you haven’t continued your PS-TheHoyan articles. I miss them, and enjoyed all the info and comments.”
Margaret, Are you sure you live in
Thank you, Margaret, for sharing.
Warning eBay Sellers
I have been selling small hoya starter plants on eBay for several years and never had the least bit of trouble until this past week (the week ended September 6). Now I have two buyers that I think you should be warned about. One goes by the name of “watchit00” when buying on eBay. The problem with watchit00 is that she never paid but kept on bidding into the next week. Fortunately someone outbid two of the things she was bidding on but the earliest (and most expensive) one, she won the bid. She won’t pay and she won’t answer her e-mail. I don’t wish her bad luck but the only excuse I can forgive is that she kicked the bucket. I think, however, that it is just a case of her thinking she could finesse me into doing what I said in my ad that I would not do and that was to hold plants over from one week to some future date as I’m short of both space and memory so I need to send things out while I can still remember where to send them. I’m only half joking, though I must say that my memory is improving since I stopped taking a prescribed medication on learning that a side effect was a muddled memory… oh and it had 9 other side effects and every single one showed up in me. Plus that, it did nothing to stop the leaks, which are not life threatening.
The second eBay buyer that has my drawers in a knot goes by the moniker of “ptcruiser2005123”. She said that I sold her a Hoya cv. Ruthie that was infected with mealy bugs and she demanded that I refund her money. I knew that I’d never sent a hoya out with mealy bugs but I know that a plant can be free of them one day and full of them the next but I inspect them carefully and treat them with an insecticide (then let them dry) before packing them.
I’d have sent her a refund anyway, if she hadn’t done several things that, to me, appeared to be trying to scam me. She sent me a picture of a hoya that was still for sale on eBay. She claimed that was the one she’d bought from me. I had that hoya in the greenhouse still. It hadn’t been sold. She said it was the hoya she bought and it was filled with mealy bugs and that she couldn’t get rid of them. She demanded a refund. She didn’t send her name or address or tell me what she paid for it. I knew that I’d sold another Ruthie two months earlier so I went in the file drawer where I keep hard copies of all the hoyas I sell on eBay. Sure enough, I found the other one I’d sold back in early July. I did not sell it to someone using the moniker of “ptcruiser2005123” (she must own a 2005 Chrysler). I sold it to someone whose eBay moniker is “toorak”
Each week when I mail my plants, I staple my P.O. receipt to the stack of sales slips. (When I say “sales slips, I mean “a copy of the letter sent by eBay that says “Congratulations, your item sold?”) and a copy of the Pay Pal receipt, telling me that payment had been received.”
After finding that this person was not the buyer of the hoya I sold in July, I went back through 2 years of sales and did not find any record of my having sold another Hoya cv. Ruthie. I know she did not buy the one she says she bought and she hasn’t agreed to return the plant she says she bought, as eBay says one should, nor has she produced a copy of her alleged PayPal payment to me. She says she knows that she got it from me because it is one of those covered pots, which she says “all of the hoyas you sell are in.” Well, all of my hoyas are not in those pots. I have 5 different kinds of pots that I’ve sold hoyas in, on eBay, during the past year. I have also sold a bunch of those pots to others. I don’t know if they’ve sold hoyas in them or not.
I’m sure that “ptcruiser2005123” will give me a negative feedback. One thing I’ve learned and that is that eBay shows that I have not had any dealings, either as a buyer or seller with this person during the past 90 days (but didn’t say if I’d had any earlier than that). If she got a plant that long ago and is just now complaining about mealy bugs she could have gotten them a lot of places, most likely in handling produce at the grocery store. Mealy bugs love hanging out in the navels of navel oranges and inside the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbages. One should wash one’s hands before going near a hoya, after handling produce.
Wouldn’t you think that a person demanding a refund for something would send a name and address and amount owed? It took several letters before she told me that I owed her $21.50. That was the amount her credit card said she owed PayPal. I refused to refund because her credit card payment to Pay Pal could have been for a pair of shoes or a Big Mac. I don’t have a clue who this nut case is!
Several letters passed between us since yesterday. I accused her of lying and operating a scam. She repeated the above claim that she knew she’d bought that plant from me because it came in one of those covered pots that, she said, “all of your hoyas are planted in.” I counted that as lie number 2.
Lie number 3 came when I sent her proof that she’d not had any dealing on eBay with me in the last 90 days.
Lie number 4 came when she wrote and said that it was Hoya limoniaca that she’d bought from me that had the mealy bugs. At the time she said that, I hadn’t sold a Hoya limoniaca in the last 20 years. I’d figured it too common to sell. She did, however, inspire me to take cuttings and root a couple.
Lie number 5 came when she said
that it was growing in a bamboo pot. I
don’t have and never have had a bamboo pot or a bamboo anything else. I do have a ceramic pot made to look like
bamboo. It was a gift from the maker, a dear friend, Claire
Ahrens, who lived in
Finally, after I insisted that ptcruiser2005123
send me a copy of the statement she got
from me & a copy the PayPal statement showing what item it was paying for,
she told me that it was on her May 10, 2013 Credit Card. She kept bringing that credit card payment
into the equation and I know that such a payment on a credit card could be for
anything in the entire world and I don’t take credit card payments. I kept telling her I didn’t want her credit
card statement. However, the date of
Yes, that lying lady had bought
a hoya from me and I got a PayPal payment from her on
I just thought all should be warned to take care if these two characters become interested in anything you have to sell.
P. S. About a month passed and I finally got another letter of apology came from this person, saying that she had discovered that she’d gotten the mealy bug infested plant from someone else! To me, that was too little, much too late and I thought others should be warned.
Hoya coriacea Blume ( syn. Hoya angustisepala Schltr. ex C. M. Burton)
Hoya coriacea Blume - Photo by Michael Miyashiro
Okay, 10 lashes for me. I goofed up this time by not crediting Schlechter with the name of angustisepala and I deserve still more for only belatedly recognizing it as a previously published species. It doesn’t much matter though because a much bigger error was my not noticing that it was really Hoya coriacea Blume.
When I published this as Hoya angustisepala, I was only attempting to give a validly published name to one that A.D.E. Elmer had published in English as Hoya mindanaensis. At that time, the Code required that name publications be in Latin. Elmer, along with most other American scientists in the year of 1938, leading up to WW2, took the stand of “Ain’t no gol darn Germans dictate to us!” My scientist husband said that, at that time, they seemed to count all Europeans as being Germans, because they seemed so slow in recognizing Hitler as the enemy. At any rate, Elmer published in English and his publication of Hoya mindanaensis was not recognized as valid.
I republished it as Hoya angustisepala because the holotype specimen cited by Elmer was Elmer10829. It is a specimen with many duplicates in many herbaria. All are labeled Hoya angustisepala. Elmer said of it, ”Although it was originally determined, many years ago, as Hoya angustisepala Schltr., he never published it. My specimens were sent out under Schlechter’s name but it is here published under the a name of Hoya mindanaensis Elm. Well, I am of the opinion that it is best to publish the species with the name that is on the holotype, isotype, syntype and all other type specimens. That is why I published it as Hoya angustisepala though I should have written it as Hoya angustisepala Schltr. ex C. M. Burton. But more than that, I should have recognized it as what it really is, which is Hoya coriacea Blume. I found the flowers to be identical though the leaves on the Hoya angustisepala to be a bit thicker. A splitter might want to give it a varietas name.
Hoya coriacea Blume is probably the
best documented species there is. There
was no excuse for me not recognizing it except that I didn’t look. I just assumed that Schlechter recognized it
as a new species so it must be. Now, I
suspect that he wasn’t sure that it was a new species so he set it aside for
further study instead of publishing it with the new name he had given it. How Hoya
coriacea came to be found in the
King and Gamble placed Hoya brunoniana Wight into synonymy with Hoya coriacea (See the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Bengal Branch, Flora of the Malayan Peninsula 74, page 573 (1907)). R. Rintz in Malayan Nature Journal 495 (1978) placed Hoya occlusa Ridley into synonymy with it. (see Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Straits Branch 61 (1912)). I have not seen types of either of those two so cannot attest to Rintz’s accuracy. He was often wrong. In this, as in many other cases, he stated that he had not seen the Hoya coriacea type specimen, however, I believe that he drew it up accurately.
Some have claimed that Hoya coriacea and Hoya fraterna are the same. When not in bloom, one would surely think them the same but the flowers are different.
In the next issue, I will compare and contrast Hoya coriacea and Hoya fraterna and show you how they differ. I believe you will concede that they are truly different species.
Also, in the next issue, I will have a review of a new hoya book. I have heard a lot about it but haven’t seen it yet. It was just delivered in today’s mail (October 24).