19 responses to “Agapetes miniata (tentative)”

  1. Bob Wilson

    Thanks for that explanation of miniata. I am growing Castilleja miniata, which has a distinctive deep rose-red flower color as compared to the scarlet of many other paintbrush species. I always appreciate learning more about the names of our plants.

  2. Nadia

    how interesting!

  3. Meyer Mary

    Thank you for that wonderful picture. The detail of the flower is amazing. Very beautiful.

  4. Chris

    Daniel, excellent scientific taxonomic musing. Enjoyable to read and ponder about. And superb photo! Photographically yours.

  5. Ron Rabideau

    Why not ask Steve Hootmann at the RSBG? He is an Agapetes fanatic and probably collected that plant!
    Ron Rabideau

  6. Steve Hootman

    Hi Daniel,

    Nice entry. I collected this plant in NE India as an unknown species. Once it flowered I was able to key it directly to miniata. It matches the description almost perfectly if you consider that very little material exists and that the Ericaceae keys in general in FoC are very far from accurate. Not sure what you call the color in your image but I can tell you that if the plant is grown outside, the color is much darker and more intense as is always the case when comparing with things grown under glass. I have observed and collected Agapetes in the wild for many years and none of them really match the descriptions in FoC (every time anyway). In other words, I am very confident in my identification. You are correct, it is definitely not burmanica (which I have also seen but do not grow) which leaves only miniata (and it pretty closely matches the description in leaf and flower shape and size other than the zig-zagging which I am pretty sure is just a miss on their part) or it is a species nova. I know you sort of have to but I always recommend not putting too much faith into keys (sounds loony I know but I have been keying plants for 35 years and you get a bit jaded, as my mentor once told me “they just write that stuff”.)

    Keep up the good work,

    Steve Hootman

    1. Pat Collins

      In “The Flora of British India” Vol III (1882), we have “Order LXXXI Vacciniaceæ” by C.B. Clarke, who remarks of Agapetes miniata
      “Corolla slightly wider in the middle, vermilion (Griffith), no transverse bars visible in the dried plants nor suggested in Griffith’s picture;”
      Other dried examples clearly kept their stripes, such as Agapetes parishii:
      “Corolla cylindric, slightly campanulate upwards, bright red, transverse bars very obscure in the dried examples;”

      Here we see Griffith’s original drawing:
      The photograph above does not seem to have the tiny teeth on the edges of the leaves.

      Although those flowers are not perfectly miniaceous in hue, I think the descriptions may be helpful from the first reports of the plant.

      For Ceratostema miniatum Griff. in 1854 we have the simple description of “Corolla miniata”.


      For Vaccinium miniatum (Griff.) Kurz in 1873 we have

      “flores coccinei” as though deliberately contradicting the specific name “miniatum” by comparing the colour to crimson from Kermes scale insects, a vivid scarlet which in the pure form has a definite cerise tint almost like a raspberry. Rather like those flowers pictured above. Crimson has no orangey tint at all.

      “corolla glabra, 5-gona, c. poll. ¾ longa, lobis brevibus linearibus acutis”
      Corolla smooth, 5-cornered, about ¾ inch long, short, sharp linear lobes.
      While Google translate has “linearibus” as “linear”, the Lewish and Short has it as from “linearis” – “of or belonging to lines, consisting of lines, linear”. “linearis pictura” being “the art of drawing with lines”
      So, perhaps an alternative reading for “lobis brevibus linearibus acutis” could be “sharp lobes briefly lined”? I don’t know enough Latin to say.


      In the eFlora of China the colour is more complicated by being “vermilion or crimson”. Vermilion was named after the source of crimson but also refers to a mineral used as a pigment – cinnabar, the natural mercuric sulphide, HgS – intense red with a hint of purple. Crimson was originally the colour of a pigment made from Kermes scale insects as described above.

      The flowers at 3mm with 1.5mm lobes seem much shorter in China.


  7. Pat Collins
  8. Anne

    Please tell us where we can obtain this plant for additions to our gardens.

  9. Steve Hootman

    Hi Daniel and all,

    I am definitely having second thoughts on my original id. The images of the herbarium specimens are not the same plant as my collection. Unfortunately, I am too busy right now to take another serious look (headed out of town for three weeks) but will have a go at it when I get a chance in May.

    We are propagating it but it is difficult and most of the results have gone to other botanic garden collections so far.

    Thank you all for your interest and work on this!

    Steve Hootman

  10. Steve Hootman

    Hi Daniel and all,

    I am embarrassed to say that I had forgotten about this discussion in the rush of spring. Our plant is now once again in full bloom and I remembered our ongoing mystery. Have just spent quite a bit of time going through the key in FOC with no luck including going the “other way” in any possible couplet. No luck so it may well be a new species. I do not have access to GBIF or other online herbaria (or do I?) but it did come out closest to the griffithii/pseudogriffithii/hyalocheilos group. But none were a match for various reasons. It was collected in a region that had not really been explored in the past.

    Any comments are most anticipated,

    Steve Hootman

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