ISI 2012-25. Sansevieria ‘Alva’ Eby

Ed Eby is well known among sansevieria aficionados for his work with the collection planted in Koko Crater near Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This long extinct volcanic caldera had one side blown out during its violent past but the crater walls that remain create a rain shadow that shelters some 65 acres ideal for dry tropical plantings. Among these are persistent Sansevieria species and hybrids that were amassed by the USDA in the 1940s to research their potential as a commercial source of fiber. Development of synthetic petroleum-based fibers supplanted that effort. Despite having been put out to pasture, so to speak, most of the sansevierias survived and even produced a number of spontaneous hybrids. One of these was first spotted by Ed’s wife Alva in an area where the map showed none had been planted so it now bears her name. Its parentage is unknown but some have suggested that it is S. trifasciata × S. cylindrica like a number of the USDA hybrids. However, S. ‘Alva’ has a distinctive look: parallel-sided, tall, channeled leaves with a finely speckled, light green color that suggests a parent other than S. cylindrica. At the Huntington, Trager grew a few open-pollinated seeds of S. erythraeae that may provide a clue. One of the seedlings apparently selfed, as it is identical to the parent. Another bears a close resemblance to S. ‘Alva’. The straight, rigid leaves of S. erythraeae could be responsible for the dignified, buttoned-up look of S. ‘Alva’. Rooted plants from division and leaf cuttings of HBG 102440. $8.

Photo © 2012 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 84 (2), March - April, 2012