September 21, 2006

La Gringa goofs

I'm sure it's not the first time, but it is the first time that anyone has told me. Alberto wrote to tell me that I had misidentified one of my found plants as Dracaena surculosa. He is a landscape designer in Panama so I'm sure he knows.

Here's the picture of the plant in question.

When I was trying to identify it, I found this picture in my 'Gardening in the Tropics' book.

At first glance, the picture looked so similar that I looked no further. I remember thinking, "Dracaena? How strange, I thought they had narrow lance-like leaves." But I was in a hurry to post and didn't check it out on the internet.

After getting Alberto's email, I did do some checking and I think he's right that my plant is a Dieffenbachia. The stem is thinner but looks the same as the Dieffenbachia maculata. Also the pattern of splotches of white originally looked more like dots, but now that the plants have grown, the dots look more like the streaks of the other Dieffenbachia. It definitely isn't the maculata, though, and it is staying much smaller, so far anyway. It has white splotching on the stems of the leaves, too.

At first, I thought it might be Dieffenbachia seguine, but my American Horticulture Society encyclopedia says that seguine has a white midrib and these have a green midrib. After looking at 100's of pictures on the internet, I still don't know what variety it might be.

Latin is the international language of botany. While I'll never be a botanist or anything even close, I do think it is important to include the Latin names of plants when I know them or can find them, because most plants have a different common name in every area where they are grown and certainly every country has their own local names.

So, thanks Alberto, for setting me straight! If anyone has any idea about the name of this variety, please let me know.
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