The Mysterious Erodium x lindavicum
Allan Robinson , UK
x lindavicum has populated catalogues and gardens for many decades, grown for
the silvery grey, cut foliage and flowers that can be shades of white, cream,
yellow, apricot and pink. It seemed improbable to me that so many different
coloured forms could be found in one cross between two species of Erodium. Then
I had the thought of reproducing the original hybrid made by Franz Sündermann
at Lindau in
I then started to research the original cross, in several old books plus the Alpine Garden Society’s “Encyclopaedia of Alpines”, the parents are given as Erodium chrysanthum and Erodium absinthoides var. amanum. The formula seemed easy enough to understand, assuming Sündermann had the true species of Erodium chrysanthum and not the imposter that is found in nurseries the world over.
Then I needed to correct the nomenclature of the parents into their modern day
equivalent, so I consulted the online “Plant List”. At this point, the
situation started to go downhill rapidly for there is neither any mention of
Erodium absinthoides var. amanum nor any reference to that name in the list of
synonyms. I started to wonder as to what exactly was going on and realised I had
opened yet another Erodium “box of horrors”.
Erodium x lindavicum was described in 1912 and would have been raised a year or two before. Sündermann organised his own plant collecting expeditions to various countries between 1908 and 1912, it may be he collected his own material to enable the creation of this hybrid.
best person to consult at times such as this is Reginald Farrer, as he was our
eyes and ears at the time Sündermann
was producing his new botanic hybrids in the early 1900s. First of all Farrer
mentions that at one time Erodium chrysanthum was considered a form of Erodium
absinthoides, so in his view crossing two forms of the same species didn’t
really result in a true inter-specific hybrid. As for his comments on the actual
plant, Erodium x lindavicum, he obviously doesn’t consider it an improvement
as he states that the hybrid has “kept the broader leafage of E. chrysanthum
and turned chrysanthum’s yellow to an obscurer note”. Is he describing the
plant now sold as Erodium chrysanthum ?
(We did notice that plants of E. chrysanthum seen on Mt.Ziria have broader foliage than those found on
, so this is a variable within the species). Mt. Parnonas
gives us a description of Erodium absinthoides var.amanum, so we find that this
plant has “hoary leaves each showing short white hairs”. The flowers are
“pure and brilliant lucent white in a lax spray” and he gives the provenance
as Akma Dag in
So now we know a yellow flowered species was crossed with a white one. At this
point we can probably rule out all the pink and apricot cultivars associated
with E. x lindavicum. They are not plentiful but they are encountered from time
to time when perusing plant catalogues. As usual, raising Erodium species and
hybrids from seed will have lost the true plants known and written about years
ago, we are left guessing as to which mongrel is closest to the truth.
Erodium amanum, which has no affinity to Erodium absinthoides according to the
“Plant List”, would seemingly be our second parent. I have found a
photograph of this species, please type in the link below and view the upper
photo on the website.
searching for Erodium species native to the Amanus or
Any attempt at reproducing the original “ lindavicum”
hybrid nowadays seems immediately thwarted. Very few nurseries list E.
amanum and those that do, offer a pink flowered plant. On close inspection,
these turn out to be the same as the plant sold as Erodium chrysanthum
‘Roseum’ or ‘Pink Form’, another impossibility as the species, E.
chrysanthum, does not naturally produce pink flowers.
(Elizabeth Strangman of Washfield Nursery introduced Erodium chrysanthum ‘Roseum’ into the
years ago, a Dutch nurseryman originally gave her the plant). UK
until the white flowered Erodium native to the
As with most hybrids between two different species, there will be variation when the role of seed and pollen parent is reversed. There will also be variation when different, distinct forms of each species are used in the cross. I think it is fair to say that today we do not really know what the original plant Franz Sündermann raised would actually look like. It will be interesting to see the true characteristics of Erodium x lindavicum at some point in the future.