Friday, December 18, 2009

Thomas and Charlie's Ceratozamia

Because cycads are so long lived and are often maintained for years by the same facilities, stories surrounding individuals and certain species often crop up, with strange relationships and odd little plant histories. By way of example, one Ceratozamia species was recently validated when the original type specimen from which the plant was described was found growing in the same botanic garden from which it was described a hundred years on. Another example is the tale of Thomas and Charlie. Below is a specimen of a Ceratozamia form that many grew for many a year under the name "Thomas and Charlie". It wasn't a described species and many presumed the name to commemorate the collectors of the original seed or an importer or so on.

ceratozamia [mexicana] 'tomazunchale'

In fact the name originates from quite the linguistic mix-up. You see the original collection was made in the area surrounding Tamazunchale in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. Its not hard to imagine how, in the space of a couple of phone calls and verbal descriptions of the plant, the name could get corrupted by someone unfamiliar with Mexican geography. This is a coning female by the way and Cz. 'Tamazunchale'/'Thomas and Charlie' is now considered by many to be a unique form of Ceratozamia mexicana as opposed to its own species.

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