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NOMENCLATURE NOTE: The nomenclature of this group is much confused and the names used here are only preliminary, provisional even. We have checked many of the names but species affinity or even validity of the species relative to garden variants is much in question. Traditional references are very thin on this genus and reputable growers who are careful with names also vary in their opinions. The fact that garden plants are used as house plants, bedding, and the aquarium, thus seldom flowering, very much complicates the identification process. Your opinions, additions, and corrections based on personal experience are very welcome.
As of August 2004, this
is the third major update to this file. We have integrated some botanical papers
and databases to determine which names are acceptable as wild entities and which
be of garden origin. That said, we find that a particular botanical epithet (ie. bettzichiana) may become associated in some areas with a particular clone or two, a very different and narrower
concept that reflected in the botanical record. We have also added many new photos, compared more plants are trial gardens and collections, and purchased cultivars from several sources. Renaming
and redefinition of horticultural taxa has begun and more will occur. As ever, many of you have communicated, sharing opinions and plants. Please continue...
This file is, we believe, the largest compilation of known cultivars on record.
|Alternanthera dentata 'Gails Choice'|
in. - reports vary but always shorter than 'Rubinginosa' (30-50
ha: slightly more compact than 'Rubiginosa'
ls: dark purplish-red, glossier than some 'Rubinginosa' clones
ll: 2.0-3.0 in.
lu: bedding plant
or: Gail Hahle, Plano TX USA found
|Alternanthera dentata 'Purple Knight'|
ht: 18-26 in.
ha: spreading, usually planted in masses for bedding
lc: rich reddish-purple, more purple than the redder 'Rubiginosa' in our preliminary observations (2003), more dark green tinged purple in very warm climates
prop: produces uniformly sized and colored plants from seed
in: US trade 2002, not widely seen under 2003.
id: we have already seen this name lumped with ordinary 'Rubiginosa' but we believe the color to be slightly better and the seed grown uniformity to be superior.
|Alternanthera dentata 'Rubiginosa' ('Wave Hill', 'Ruby', 'Versicolor')|
red, very showy
lu: a good bedding plant
infl: popcorn-shaped, similar to Gomphrena (globe amaranth)
ns: 'Wave Hill' had been called an improved clone but in trials it proved identical.
|Alternanthera dentata 'Ruby' some= 'Rubiginosa'|
|Alternanthera dentata 'Ruby Red'|
ha: irregularly, rather open mound,
vigorous spreading, not as dense as other cultivars
ls: lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, much narrower than 'Ruby' (aka 'Rubiginosa' and 'Purple Knight')
|Alternanthera dentata 'Wave Hill' = 'Rubiginosa'|
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Amabilis'|
ns: a listed name. Description or photo needed.
|Alternanthera ficoidea Amoena Group ('Amoena' , var. amoena)|
ht: 4 in.
lc: orange, carmine, pink, purple, green, and red tints. Some plants bronze marked red and orange with a touch of purple.
ls: spatulate or partly so
or: this epithet amoena is traced to Brazil gardens about 1865. It is a more colorful clone of the wild entity. There are numerous named clones of it, all discussed here.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Aurea Nana' ('Dwarf Yellow', 'Aurea' in part)|
in., occasionally taller to 12 in. in shade or under high fertilization regimes.
It is very variable with light, soil, fertilization, and amount of reversion to
ha: dwarf or very compact, often dense and mounded.
lc: chartreuse (yellow-green) to yellow at 90-100% of surface. Sometimes large sections of the plant will revert to dark green. Leaves are mostly all yellow or all green when reverting
id: there are very small examples of this and much larger ones. Having studied many examples, we have concluded that 'Aurea' (apart from 'Bettzickiana Aurea') cannot be separated
id: from 'Aurea Nana'. Shade produces larger leaves and taller plants, and sometimes more reversons to green. Drier spots, less fertilzer, and more shade tend to produce the smallest
id: and tighest all gold mounds. The photo above shows both the tall, larger-leaved plants and the denser, smaller-leaved ones in a single planting.
ns: this is not 'Bettsickiana Aurea' which is only tinged yellow in parts.
prop: it is wise to select cuttings from compact, very yellow (non-reverted shoots) sectios. The density of the cultivar can slip if selection of strong, vigorous shoots continues over decades.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Bettzick Green' NEW NAME ('Bettzickiana Green' invalid)|
lc: all medium green, lacking the bright red to bronze pigments of 'Bettzickiana'.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Bettszickiana' (A. bettzickiana', A. versicolor in part)|
ht: 12 in. - larger than
the dwarf and carpeting cultivars
lc: brightly marked cream, bronze, light yellow, green, red, and pink, often glossy green tinged yellow and pink, midrib redder.
ls: blades often nicely twisted, spatulate in one clone, more ovate and folded in others.
ns: this name is based on A. ficoidea var. bettzichiana (Regal) Backer and has been considered a "varicolored" or more brightly colored version of the mostly green species.
ns: the name A. bettzickiana in a synonym of A. ficoidea in some botanical records, doubtless lumped by botanists not appreciating the differences of good garden clones
ns: But as in other genera, the epithet in gardens has been associated with a clone or two of some merit and popularity. Good clones should be renamed. See under
ns: 'Versicolor' below for confusion of these two names.
id: see under SPATULATA GROUP below for a discussion of var. spatulata, sometimes considered a synonym.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Bettzickiana Aurea'|
ls: broadly to narrowly
ovate, often folded in part
lc: green, more heavily tinged yellow on some part of the leaf, often above the middle. It is not all yellow as in 'Aurea Nana'
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Big Red'|
carmine, umber, and red shades. It is close to 'Brilliantissima'
which is usually more bronze and pink.
so: Glasshouse Works (Catalog 1997: no page number)
|Alternanthera ficoidea Amoena Group [Black]|
lc: dark copper with purple and pink tints
|Alternanthera ficoidea Amoena Group 'Bohemian National'|
lc: pink new growth with red midvein with upper third green. Becomes light yellow and dark ochre at base.
so: Glasshouse Works
lc: green marged white
ls: oblong to spatulate, highly bullate, blistered, convex and concave
id: there are often reversions to all green in this clone. These can be rooted easily and prove stable without a chimera. We do not believe the green reversion is named yet.
|Alternanthera ficoidea Amoena Group 'Brilliantissima' ('Bittzickiana Brilliantissima')|
lc: bronze-red to
bronze-green, usually centered pink, veined darker red to purple, mixing pink
and red flashes of color
ns: Glasshouse Works Catalog 1988: 9 states "may be same as A. versicolor".
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Broadleaf Red'|
lc: bronze-red to dark
red, new growth more red, later more purple and green. No yellow or orange tints
ls: narrowly ovate to oval, slightly more folded than 'Bronze' shown below but otherwise a very similar plant
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Bronze' provisional name, not valid (7/4)|
ha: low mounded to spreading
ls: ovate to broadly elliptic
lc: dark bronze-red, darker and brighter red midrib, old leaves green tinged bronze or green with red midrib. There are no yellow or orange tints to our knowledge.
in: North Carolina Farms, NC USA 2004
ns, id: a simple color term like "bronze" is not valid for a cultivar name. It is similar to 'Broadleaf Red' seen at Park's trial gardens in 2004.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Christmas Tree'|
mounded, stays small all season as bedding plant
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Dwarf Yellow' = 'Aurea Nana'|
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Filigree'|
lc: whitish-yellow becoming carmine and purplish-bronze, sometimes bronze-green
so: Glasshouse Works
|Alternanthera ficoidea var. flavogrisea = A. tenella var. flavogrisea|
ls: oblong to ovate or oval
lc: all green
ns: this name has been used in contrast to the bright pigments clones such as 'Bittzichiana' but those belong to another species
|Alternanthera ficoidea THREAD GROUP 'Frizzy'|
lw: narrow, linear to thread-like (filiform), giving a frizzy appearance
lc: light green, tinged yellow with maturity
|Alternanthera ficoidea THREAD GROUP 'Golden Threads'|
ht: 6-8 in.
ha: compact, globose with age
lc: greenish-yellow to yellow, depending on light.
ls: linear, blades distinctly folded upward
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Green Machine'|
ha: low carpet
lc: dark green
ls: often puckered, rugose or irregularly formed
fc: cream to ivory bracts - semi-showy up close
id: this should be compared to the green reversion of 'Brazilian Snow', also puckered, rugose, and bullate.
lu: GHW says it is much used at Disney.
so: Glasshouse Works (Catalog 1997: no page number)
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Green/Yellow' = 'Aurea' or 'Aurea Nana'?|
ns: a name sometimes seen in lists.
|Alternanthera ficoidea THREAD GROUP 'Green Threads' (8/4)|
ht: 8-12 in.
ha: fine-textured mound
ll: narrowly linear to lanceolate as 'Red Threads'
lc: bright medium green, apex often tinged yellow
or: this is a mutant from 'Golden Threads' which only a few tips having yellow colors. Heavily shaded 'Golden Threads' will be pale yellow-green and not
or: this rich green color.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Krinkle'|
ht: 6 in.
ls: curled, that is crinkled
ns: some plants under this name are described as bronze and probably belong to 'Krickle Red'. This is the
ns: variant of the leaf form.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Krinkle Red' (7/02)|
lc: red to
ls: curled and crinkled
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Magnifica' ('Red Magnifica')|
compact, sometimes considered a dwarf.
lc: burgundy red to bronze-red
ls: more rounded that species typical
|Alternanthera ficoidea THREAD GROUP 'New Burgundy'|
id: it appears to resemble the cultivar 'Red Threads'. A side-by-side trial is needed to delimit the two.
ha: loosely mounded, lower
ls: elliptic-lanceolate to oblanceolate, occasionally obovate
lc: dark red with selected zones of bright fluorescent red and green, older leaves may be entirely or mostly green.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'New Yellow'|
ns: a listed name.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Ocipus' = species?|
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Parrot Feather'|
marked yellow, veined pink
ns: This is one common name for the species so it may be identical. It is said to have "broad leaves" and thus
ns: thus does not sound like the narrow-leaved 'Bettzickiana'
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Party Time' (8/3)|
lc: bronze tinged with fuchia and green mottlings and tints. It is quite unusual, seeming
lc: to have a light red chimera in the manner of less bold variegated plants. These sectors may be
lc: easily 40-55% of the surface. A few dark purple zones appear at perhaps 1-5% of the surface
ns: it's inclusion under A. dentata appears to be an error.
so: Land Craft Environments (online catalog 2003)
|Alternanthera ficoidea [pink] = 'Rosea'?|
magenta or hot pink, shades of carmine are common.
lc: green, veined pink
|Alternanthera ficoidea Amoena Group [orange]|
lc: mostly orange, apparently a clonal selection of the Amoena Group
|Alternanthera ficoidea [red] some= 'Magnifica'|
|Alternanthera ficoidea THREAD GROUP 'Red Threads'|
lc: bright red,
translucent if backlit
ls: linear, notably folded
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Rosea'|
ns: unclear if this is a larger variant or 'Rosea Nana' or the same. This name is not widely seen. There are certainly many clones with pink or rose tints.
|Alternanthera ficoidea SPATULATA GROUP
very small as young plants, fine-textured, often subglobose to mounded,
remaining dense with age
st: light pink tinged.
lc: medium green, some portion of the blade marked cream, pink tints overall, the apex often green or with a green mark below it. Some blades without a cream zone will be green with a bright rose-red
lc: midrib with or without red tints below. Hardly two leaves are pigmented the same. Oldest leaves are mostly green but may have the occasional pink tint.
ls: spatulate, rather narrow (3-4mm) in the lower half
ll: 12.0-40.0mm long x 5.0-9.0mm wide (upper portion), 3.0-4.0mm (lower portion), blade often folder upward. The wider upper portion is rarely over 1cm long. It is one of the smallest
ll: leaves among the species' cultivars.
id: it is part of what we are now terming the Spatulata Group
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Sessilis Alba'|
ha: main plant compact,
usually spreading, growing tips long, sparse, and often vine-like in vigorous
lc: rich green, often spotted white, new growth often all white on pink-tinged stems.
ll: white new leaves are much smaler, often 1-2cm long, becoming 3-5cm later when more green.
id: an association or connection between this name and Alternanthera sessilis cannot be proved to date.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Snowball'|
lc: green mottled in white, new growth mostly white
id: appears similar to 'Sessilis Alba' and the new growth would seem identical. This clone has been called compact which cannot be said of 'Sessilis Alba' outdoors.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Snow Carpet'|
ns: a listed name. Probably another name for 'White Carpet' (see below)
Alternanthera 'Snow Queen' at the NC State University AAS Trial Gardens in Summer 2002. This ultra-dense mound of unconventional foliage is really more of a collector's choice than a commercial landscaper's dream. When one adds a white margin to a pale silver-green leaf (plus the lack of flowers) you have little distant contrast or glowing appeal. This is one of the most invisible, unappreciated plants ever seen at an AAS trial ground and I've prowled around them for over 20 years. At first it seemed so freakish and firm I was puzzled it made it among the flamboyant Petunia and overbred Tagetes set. You could even walk by and never see it and skip it as one of the mistakes that inflict all fine trial grounds.
The blades are also bullate (blistered, irregularly bumpy), concave or convex (cupped up or down), and tightly twisted at times. These raised and irregular surfaces give even more spots for reflection of white and silver light. Comparing observations from early to mid and now late summer, the chimera becomes only more contorted and bizarre with time, giving it a higher but still flawlessly thick, domed habit. It is a pretty plant (I am personally smitten and impressed) but one must place it for appropriate appreciation in a large patio container or along a path on a raised bed. Despite a droll, boring name it is a unique entity among the other glorious plants in this colorful genus and the growing collective of variegated plants in general.
margined a clean white
ls: blades ovate to oval, distinctly bullate, convex, or concave
id: this is probably the same as 'Brazilian Snow' but it may be a tad denser than that cultivar. They should be trialed together.
|Alternanthera ficoidea SPATULATA GROUP (var. spatulata)|
ls: spatulate, spoon-shaped or
spatula-like, having a wider upper portion and a very narrow lower portion
similar to a petiole.
lc: variously with the clone. 'Rosea Nana' belongs to the group as does one clone under the name 'Bettzickiana'.
ns: the variety is generally decredited as a botanical entity but such a taxon is very useful among the cultivars.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Thin Yellow' = 'Aurea Nana'?|
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Thin Yellow' = 'Aurea Nana'?|
lw: narrower blade
ns: this sounds like 'Aurea Nana' but we have not yet evaluated it.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Tricolor' (A. purpurea 'Tricolor')|
mottled pink to geen marked red at the apex
ll: larger than most of the compact or dwarf bedding clones so popular today.
or: K.S.G. Farms, India by one report. The name is also traced to Brazilian gardens in 1862. Doubtless it could have been given at many places over many years.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'True Yellow'|
chartreuse becoming yellow in sun.
id: this appears to be a rename of the original 'Aurea Nana' which when confused with other partly yellow clones seems to require a new name.
id: 'Aurea Nana' is 90-100% yellow while 'Bettzickiana Aurea' is marked yellow to about 30-60%. This name may be superfluous.
so: Glasshouse Works (Catalog 1997: no page number)
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Versicolor' (A. versicolor?)|
wtih yellow markings, pink veins.
id, ns: the name A. versicolor (Lemaire) Regal is being considered a synonym of var. bettzickiana ('Bettzickiana' here) or a cultigenic taxon 'Versicolor'. Given that two or more
id, ns: clones are sold under the name 'Bettzickiana' (see above) then one can understand use of both names in some catalogs.
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'White Carpet'|
ht: 8 in.
and often less
ha: dense mound to carpet
lc: bright clear white margin. New growth often all white.
ls: puckered blade
id: this may be another name for 'Brazilian Snow' or 'Snow Mound'. The three are very similar.
so: Glasshouse Works (Catalog 1990: no page number)
|Alternanthera ficoidea [white margined]|
ht: 10-13 in.
ha: vigorous, spreading, never a dense mound as 'Brazilian Snow', often sparse in spring, only later filling out.
ls: ovate to broadly elliptic, often folded, not bullate or blistered 'Brazilian Snow'
lm: medium to light green, margined creamy-white
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Yellow Fineleaf'|
ns: this might be 'Aurea Nana' (?). I suspect this is another name for 'Golden Threads'
|Alternanthera ficoidea 'Yellow Wideleaf'|
lw: wider blade than 'Yellow Fineleaf', probably the same as 'Aurea Nana'
|Alternanthera 'Flickering Candle'|
and green with candle-like appearance
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Dark Purple Black'|
dark purple, near black.
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Burgundy Bronze'|
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Golden Flare'|
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Inferno'|
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Orange Blaze'|
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Purple Bronze'|
bronze-green with some red markings
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Rosy Glow' ('Variegata Rosea')|
with tricolor effect.
|Alternanthera lehmannii 'Yellow Green Betty'|
|Alternanthera purpurea 'Tricolor' = A. ficoidea 'Tricolor'|
|Alternanthera 'Red Bound' or 'Red Round'|
ns: this appears to resemble A. ficoidea 'Magnifica' or A. versicolor from photos we have seen.
|Alternanthera 'Red Thread' = A. ficoidea 'Red Threads'|
|Alternanthera reineckii 'Bronze'|
lc: rich bronze tints
|Alternanthera reineckii 'Cardinalis'|
lc: very bright red below.
|Alternanthera reineckii 'Lilacina'|
lc: dark rose-red below, green tinged red above.
|Alternanthera reineckii [narrow-leaved]|
lw: blades apparently narrow than species typical. We have not seen it.
|Alternanthera reineckii 'Red'|
red, particularly below, green to reddish-green above.
lu: a popular aquarium plant.
ns: this may be the same as 'Cardinalis' but they two names have been listed separately on the same list.
|Alternanthera reineckii 'Roseafolia'|
rose-purple below, a very different shade than 'Red' or
lw: narrower blade than species typical.
|Alternanthera 'Trailing Purple'|
ns: a listed name with kingmas.com (online catalog 2001)
|Alternanthera versicolor 'Snowball'|
mottled bright white, being mostly or all white on the tips,
often distinctly so.
so: Glasshouse Works (Catalog 1988: 9)
id: this may well the same as A. ficoidea 'Sessilis Alba', also sold as 'Snowball'