Friday, 31 August 2007

Lechenaultia ... Leschenaultia

In a moment of optimism — or madness or both — I bought a Lechenaultia biloba to plant in the front garden. I have no idea if it will take, because they are as sensitive as they are glamorous. We'll see. If it doesn't succeed, I'll always have the memories ...

Lechenaultia is named after French botanist Jean-Baptiste Louis Claude Théodore Leschenault de la Tour, who sailed on the Naturaliste under Nicholas Baudin. Lechenaultia and Leschenault? There's surely some mistake. Well, yes and no.

During the voyage, Leschenault met British botanist Robert Brown, who was travelling on Matthew Flinders' vessel, HMS Investigator. When Brown described the genus in his colleague's honour, he used what he thought was the correct spelling of his name (Morrison 1986). He was wrong but the generic name is valid. It can't be changed simply for politeness' sake.

Still, although Lechenaultia remains as the generic name, Leschenault is celebrated in the common name.

Reference
Morrison, D.A. (1986). Taxonomic and nomenclatural notes of Lechenaultia R. Br. (Goodeniaceae). Brunonia 9: 1–28. (PDF, 1.7MB)

5 comments:

Sophie said...

Nice flowers, very blue!

I've just read the book "Encountering Terra Australis: The Australian Voyages Of Nicolas Baudin And Matthew Flinders", so the Leschenault name rang a bell.

Duncan said...

They do wonderfully well in a water pot Snail, as do many of the other touchy western plants.

Snail said...

The colour is extraordinarily intense, Sophie. There are also red and orange species that are equally vivid. But I'll see how this one goes before I try those.

Did you enjoy this book? Should I put it on my list of things to read?

Duncan, they're growing beautifully in pots at the moment and I'm a bit scared about putting them in the ground. I wanted to try at least one in the front garden with some Eutaxia microphylla (to bring out the colour even more.) I may chicken out and keep them in decorative containers in the back garden --- but not in the front. Light fingers and all that!

Sophie said...

snail, yes, the book was enjoyable and interesting.
Especially as Baudin here has been forgotten and labeled a looser...
The book dwells a lot on the scientific aims of the expeditions, maybe a little more about anthropology than botanics, and is beautifully illustrated. It's worth checking in a library or bookstore!

Snail said...

Our library has it. Woo hoo!

Thanks for the tip, Sophie.