A Pilea by any other name ...

February 18, 2018

No, I am not speaking of Pilea peperomiodes, although it seems to have become a hot topic with houseplant collectors in the U.S. and abroad. (We'll get back to it in a future post.)

 

I speak of Pilea glauca, or is that Pilea 'Aquamarine' ... Silver Sparkles, anyone? Grey Artillery Plant?

 

I love this little plant, no matter what we choose to call it. It has a delicate, faerie-like quality - a small deep red delicately trailing vine covered with tiny round silvery blue-green leaves, pleasingly mounding and cascading over its pot on its own, or as a delightful whimsical addition to a container mix. It has also endeared itself to me because it has survived for two years in my north and west facing apartment, no mean feat! Which such low light it has been a challenge to find very many plants that do so and whose appearance pleases me so. My daughter gave me my little plant and despite the low light and my somewhat haphazard watering schedule it is still with me.

 

I was surprised that it lasted that long, although it had gotten a bit spindly, and so I decided to finally look up its proper care. I still had its plant tag, which named it Pilea glauca 'Aquamarine'. When I searched Pilea glauca I came up with some unexpected results – my lovely little faerie vine had no official name? She had many unofficial names, but according to botanical standards, Pilea glauca is a nomen nudum – a botanical Latin term for a plant that has not been classified and named according to botanical specifications, such as that it be published and described in certain approved scientific journals.

 

Let it be known that there does exist a Pilea glauca, but it is not this little vine. It has a much different appearance. The name was given, erroneously, by a nursery who was propagating it for sale and in some areas this name has stuck.

 

"How fitting!" I thought to myself. This made my little vine seem even more faerie-like and mysterious to me. Like much of faerie she has an elusive, contrary sort of way about her – both in name and in form.

 

I'd not have known that my little Pilea had no official name, or that this peculiarity is called a nomen nudem had I not discovered a post by Harry Hodgson on his blog Laidback Gardener. Thank you, Harry! His post, Popular Houseplant Undergoes An Identity Crisis, is quite detailed and informative.

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