If you visit UBC Botanical Garden and examine the plant labels while enjoying the garden, you’ll eventually notice that we use two different colours of plant labels – black and red. Black labels are used when we’re reasonably certain about all of the information on the label, including the name, identity of the plant, distribution of the taxon, and accession number (read: unique identifier – it’s the number you often see in the keywords with UBC Garden-based BPotD entries). Sometimes, however, there is uncertainty, and the plant receives a red label. This occurs most often for three reasons:
- we haven’t been able to verify the name of the plant and therefore can’t confirm its identity. This often occurs with obscure cultivars or plants from regions of the world that are poorly documented
- the name of the plant is verifiable, but we don’t trust that the name accompanying the plant is correct (a misidentiication)
- we aren’t able to fully identify the plant. This generally occurs with wild collected material that has been identified only to genus level. It may take years before the plants display characteristics that will allow the plant to be fully identified (e.g., it may not flower for a decade).
Erysimum ‘Emm’s Variety’ is an example of the first reason. While cultivated plants require little in the way of process before assigning a name (compared to the peer-reviewed publication model of scientific names), a minimal bit of documentation would be publication in a nursery’s catalogue or plant exchange list. Given the number of nurseries, it is an impossible task to track down every cultivar to its origin, so we often rely on a combination of the various cultivar registration authorities and search engines to help discover if a cultivar name is in use. Well, if you try to search for Erysimum ‘Emm’s Variety’, I guarantee you’ll come up as short as we have. The only documentation we’ve been able to locate is in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Database, where it is listed as “tentatively accepted”. It therefore gets a red label until we can find a way to track down more information.
Photography resource link: Fodor’s has a section on its web site dedicated to travel photography, “Focus on Photography – How to Take Travel Pictures Like a Pro”. It reads like the article was written before the advent of digital cameras (!), as I couldn’t find a single mention of the word “digital”, but it still has plenty of timeless suggestions and tips.