Zantedeschia elliottiana

| 18 Comments

Photograph by Tom Harnish.

Lily by Kate Lister.

Harnish_Zantedeschia_elliottiana_600.jpg

Zantedeschia elliottiana – yellow or golden arum lily.

The photographer, Tom Harnish, writes that Zantedeschia is often misnamed Calla: “Zantedeschia is a different genus than Calla – not a small distinction if you consider that dogs and cats are two different genera (Canidae and Felidae). Imagine going into a pet store and seeing signs over the puppies that indicate they’re cats? Oddly, most garden shops label these flowers calla (even cala) lilies, and that’s what most people call them. Zantedeschia, shown here, are from tropical Africa, and should not be confused with the smaller white calla that grows in bogs of northern Europe, Asia, and North America.”

18 Comments

Well, Calla and Zantedeschia are both members of the Arum family, Aracea.

On the other hand, labeling Z. as a “calla” is like saying that a raccoon dog is exactly the same as a Great Dane.

Well, raccoon dogs and Great Danes ARE the same species.

PS That is one mean looking Panda at the top of the page. Destroyed my whole image of them as cuddly.

Stanton said:

Well, Calla and Zantedeschia are both members of the Arum family, Aracea.

On the other hand, labeling Z. as a “calla” is like saying that a raccoon dog is exactly the same as a Great Dane.

But is the Wikipedia page for Calla correct in stating that Zantedeschia used to be part of Calla?

If the taxonomists keep on changing things, you have to expect everyone else to get in a muddle.

Kevin B said: If the taxonomists keep on changing things, you have to expect everyone else to get in a muddle.

If species would just stop evolving and remain fixed I’m sure the taxonomists would have no problem.

Reality seems to have a pro-evolutionary bias. That’s why I demand our fair and balanced education system include non-reality. (/tongue in cheek)

PAUL said:

Well, raccoon dogs and Great Danes ARE the same species.

PS That is one mean looking Panda at the top of the page. Destroyed my whole image of them as cuddly.

No they’re not. Please learn what a raccoon dog is before you embarass yourself further.

Zantedeschia and Calla are both members of the family Araceae. Great Danes and raccoon dogs are both members of the family Canidae. Cats are members of the family Felidae. And it’s a good idea not to confuse “coon dogs” and “raccoon dogs”.

Stanton said:

Well, Calla and Zantedeschia are both members of the Arum family, Aracea.

On the other hand, labeling Z. as a “calla” is like saying that a raccoon dog is exactly the same as a Great Dane.

First, how I reply to an article rather than a comment?

If everyone calls something something that’s what it is, at least in that context. Ants are bugs in everyday contexts, even if to an entomologist they’re not. A theory is an idea about something in everyday contexts, even if in science that isn’t what it means. So, yes, this is a calla. And no, this isn’t a calla.

Because dogs and cats are in different families, Felidae and Canidae, (not italicized) it follows that they are in different genera. The photographer is confused about genera and families. If calla is used as a common name, it can cover several genera. How about daisy, for example?

It is amusing that plants and animals can have the same scientific name because the nomenclature codes are separate. For example, Adenia (italicized) is a genus if killifish and also of passionflowers.

Juliet Capulet Wrote:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.

I was just talking to a client about Callas today. On the landscape plan, I labelled them Zantedeschia. I’ll usually use a common name with clients, but I’m ready to explain it and back it up with a scientific name.

Common names are inherently confusing. Even if Zantedeschia was once part of Calla such names get mixed up all the time.

In my area we call Vinca spp. and Catharanthus roseus “Vinca”, but farther north, we called Vinca spp., “Myrtle”. We call Geranium and Pelargonium “Geraniums”.

And then, what about ChrysanthemumDendranthema… oops, no it’s Chrysanthemum again.

I’ve heard bluebells and yellowbells both used for many different plants. Today, my client was confused about Pin Oak and Willow Oak; Quercus palustris, and Quercus phellos, quite different trees. I would hate to see someone buy the wrong one in the winter time.

I still love taxonomy!

PAUL said:

Well, raccoon dogs and Great Danes ARE the same species.

No, you’re thinking of the breed “Coonhound”: I’m referring to the wild dog species Nyctereutes procyonoides, which resembles a squat, super-fluffy fox with a raccoon-like head.

Kevin B said:

Stanton said:

But is the Wikipedia page for Calla correct in stating that Zantedeschia used to be part of Calla?

If the taxonomists keep on changing things, you have to expect everyone else to get in a muddle.

Yes, they are correct: It’s a classic example of taxonomic splitters in action, righting wrongs and bringing order to an untidy genus.

David Fickett-Wilbar said:

Stanton said:

Well, Calla and Zantedeschia are both members of the Arum family, Aracea.

On the other hand, labeling Z. as a “calla” is like saying that a raccoon dog is exactly the same as a Great Dane.

If everyone calls something something that’s what it is, at least in that context. Ants are bugs in everyday contexts, even if to an entomologist they’re not. A theory is an idea about something in everyday contexts, even if in science that isn’t what it means. So, yes, this is a calla. And no, this isn’t a calla.

This is also true: I figure that people prefer to use “calla” to also refer to Zantedeschia sp, because having to call them “Zantedesch’s lily” would result in a pandemic of tongue-related injuries.

Lynn Wilhelm said: Common names are inherently confusing. Even if Zantedeschia was once part of Calla such names get mixed up all the time.

In my area we call Vinca spp. and Catharanthus roseus “Vinca”, but farther north, we called Vinca spp., “Myrtle”. We call Geranium and Pelargonium “Geraniums”.

To make it even more confusing, the plant commonly known as nasturtium is not a member of the genus Nasturtium; they’re not even related.

We have long had official lists of common and scientific names for North American fishes. The common names are considerably more stable than the scientific names.

By the way, it needs to be said that this is a beautiful photo of a beautiful flower, lest that be lost in the linguistic discussion. Nothing wrong with linguistic discussions, of course; I’m a bit of a linguist myself, who thinks that “Brontosaurus” is the common name for an apatosaurus, and how cool it is that a dinosaur would have both a common and a scientific name.

David you are right. It is a gorgeous photo. Thanks Kate for growing it, Tom for photographing it and Matt for posting it.

Of course, Kate didn’t grow the photo! Preview first next time.

Jim Thomerson said:

We have long had official lists of common and scientific names for North American fishes. The common names are considerably more stable than the scientific names.

Is it a western diamondback rattlesnake, a coontail, or a Texas rattler? Depends on where you are. We lose something when we try to list ‘official’ common names.

um… Canidae and Felidae are Families, not genera.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on June 14, 2010 12:00 PM.

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