Monday, 5 January 2009

Agave geminiflora

Bonapartea juncea from The Gardener's Magazine 1827

With the garbled name Bonapartea Funcea this plant was growing in "Mexico" Monserrate 1890.

The official version:
Botanists recognise this name as published by Ruiz in 1802. Bonapartea juncea Ruiz & Pav. Flora Peruviana 3: 38, pl. 262. 1802. This is a Bromeliad, now correctly known as Tillandsia juncea (Ruiz & Pav.) Poir.

Misandra juncea (Ruiz & Pav.) F. Dietr. Nachtrag zum Vollständigen Lexicon der Gärtnerei und Botanik 5: 103. 1819. (Nachtr. Vollst. Lex. Gärtn.)
Acanthospora juncea (Ruiz & Pav.) Spreng. Systema Vegetabilium, editio decima sexta 2: 25. 1825. (Syst. Veg.)
Platystachys juncea (Ruiz & Pav.) Beer Die Familie der Bromeliaceen 86. 1856. (Fam. Bromel.)
Gardener's names (Hort.) - of gardens
Often in nurserymans' catalogues and other horticultural literature appear names that have no botanical value, but that for one reason or other have entered into current use amongst gardeners. These names are suffixed by the abbreviation Hort. This means "of gardens". This plant appears to belong to this category.
The name Bonapartea has had a complicated history. Philippe Faucon of Desert Tropicals gives this list of species belonging to this invalid genus :
Bonapartea flagelliformis synonym of Agave geminiflora
Bonapartea gracile synonym of Dasylirion acrotrichum (Green Desert Spoon)
Bonapartea juncea synonym of Agave geminiflora
All this leads us to suppose that the plant cited as growing in Monserrate's "Mexico", is most likely to be Agave geminiflora.
Agave geminiflora

Agave geminiflora (Tagl.) Ker-Gawl. J. Sci. Arts (London) 2: 88
Not known from natural habitat. Cultivated in Europe since early 19th century as Littaea geminiflora Tagl. Biblioteca italiana ossia giornale di letteratura scienze ed arti 1: 107-109, pl. 6. 1816.
Dracaena boscii,
Bonapartea juncea,
Lyttaea geminiflora,
Yucca boscii,
Agave angustissima, (still used in some nurseries today)
Bonapartea flagelliformis
Here is an illuminating account from The Gardener's Magazine of 1827
Bonapartea juncea (of the Gardens.)— Dear Sir, "Agreeably to your request, I have much pleasure in offering you the following short account of the plant Bonapartea juncea, (fig. 30.) In July and August, 1814, I travelled through Holland and part of France to Paris, and visited by the way most of the gardens of importance, purchasing a variety of plants. The above is one of them, and might then, judging from its size, be between three and four years old. I have had it in various situations, but principally in the hot-house; it will also do well in the greenhouse, and in summer in the open air. It is a native of Peru, and was introduced to this country in 1800. The flower stem made its first appearance about the middle of August last, and for about six weeks it made the rapid growth of about four inches in the twenty-four hours, since which, with the decrease of the day, its growth has been more moderate; it is now about fourteen feet high, and has 846 flowers in various stages of progress. It appears to delight in an equal proportion of heath mould and loam. I understand this is not the oldest plant in England, and therefore I am led to think its flowering may have been promoted by the plant having been disrooted about eighteen months ago.
" I am, dear Sir, &c
" Josh. Knight. "
Exotic Nursery, King's Road, Chelsea, 11th Nov. 1826."

The flower is green without, and of a greenish yellow within, and by no means conspicuous; but the general effect of the plant, especially where it now stands in the centre of Mr. Knight's lofty curvilinear conservatory, is very imposing. This plant has had no fewer than seven names. By some considered an Agave; but it is now Lyttaea geminiflora. It seeds readily, and M. Soulange Bodin has in his garden upwards of 1000 plants so raised. — Cond. (Conductor = J. C. Loudon)
The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement , 1827, edited by John Claudius Loudon: "

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