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Botany Photo of the Day
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Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

van swearingen@Flickr is the contributor of today's photograph from Huntington Botanical Gardens in California (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). Thank you!

Golden fuchsia seems to be the common name for this plant (though it's not a fuchsia). On the related topic of its scientific name, a team of Hungarian taxonomists have suggested it be renamed Csapodya splendens, but the GRIN Taxonomy Database has retained Deppea splendens (so far).

Despite the cosmopolitan distribution of its family, the Rubiaceae (madder or coffee family), Deppea splendens wasonly known from a canyon on the south slope of Cerro Mozotal in southern Chiapas, where it naturally occurred as a fifteen- to twenty-five-foot shrub or small tree in pine-oak cloud forest within sight of the Pacific Ocean.” This site was cleared for farmland in 1986; Deppea splendens is now presumed extinct in the wild (though some hope exists that it may be rediscovered on other nearby mountains in Chiapas, Mexico and neighbouring Guatemala). Its original discovery by Western science occurred in 1972, though it remained unrecognized as a novel species for a long time; in fact, it was not published and described in the scientific literature until 1987, a year after its possible demise in the wild.

The quote above is from an account of the species in the April 2000 issue of Pacific Horticulture magazine, available online via San Francisco Botanical Garden: Deppea splendens (PDF) by Kathy Musial. If you have the time to read the article, I can find no better written piece about the species. If you've only a short amount of time, a brief article is available from the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden newsletter: Deppea splendens by Rand Plewak.

A photograph of the foliage is available via frequent BPotD contributor Eric in SF's PlantWorld site: Deppea splendens.

9 Comments

lovely plant
it is painful to read it is perhaps
extinct in its natural place

the colour is so rich hopfully this plant
can be saved

thank you to van and daniel
eric s has a fine website

don't let anyone harsh on your mellow

really very beautiful

Gabriella Proja

There's something deeply wrenching about this particular history, isn't there? It certainly serves to remind us how easily we can lose our treasured biodiversity virtually at a blow.

A wonderful picture and a most interesting plant.

It is hard to believe there aren't a few plants left in some remote part of Chiapas or Guatamala. I certainly hope they can be reestablished in the wild.

What a marvelous picture, catching the flower cluster at a perfect moment. I especially like way the lowest flower has just fallen and is dangling by a thread, yet is still fresh and glowing (and a perfect illustration of the flower's anatomy, with male flower parts attached to the flower tube).

After reading K. Musial's article circa 2000, I had to wipe the tears from my eyes. I'm so glad to see this is still in cultivation and I'm pleased you like my photograph.

This is truely an interesting plant and well photographed. I am interesting in the fact is in the coffe family. I have never seem a coffee bush in bloom. As always I am learning more and more each day.
Thank,
Margaret-Rae

The only possible excuse of naming this Csapody would be that it is very close to Chiapas in pronunciation but only for Hungarians who happen to know that Cs in Hungarian is simply Ch in most languages and for unfortunate Russian composers with a German discovery Tsch or even Ts or C with a southern Slavic C miniature superscript v. But if it was respelt CH instead of CS to make it easier for everybody else then the French would mispronounce Ch as Sh.

So it seems to me all words for international use should be either latinized or anglicized. Only lingists know IPA so thats out.

But an extinct flower might appropriately have its name derived from an extinct language such as Aztec or Maya or
Toltec.

Hello,
I live on the Central Coast of California. I recently talked with a ground keeper from Hearst
Castle in San Simeon, and it seems that they do posess a few bushes of "Deppea Splendens"...in their gardens. You could maybe obtain more info about this ... Loved your article on this plant !!
Good luck ! Jacqueline Bradley.

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