ISI 2017-12. Aloe descoingsii Reynolds

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the French botanist Bernard Descoings, in the small village of Uzes in southern France where he has “retired” to work on the local flora and one of his chosen succulent specialties, Kalanchoe (the other being Cyphostemma). I realized that, like most non-French speakers, I had been mispronouncing the aloe name. It is usually suggested that one pronounce a commemorative name more or less as it is by the one being honored. In this case the pronunciation of Descoings in French is something like day-kwaa with a nasal twang to the final vowel. The typical American pronunciation of des-co-ing-zee-i is probably here to stay, but at least we can be aware that it honors Monsieur Day-kwaa! After all, the man brought to the attention of science one of the choicest Madagascan aloes, prized for its diminutive rosettes no more than 4 cm in diameter and with a nearly everblooming habit with charming urn-shaped orange flowers. It has lent its genes to nearly every miniature aloe hybrid made, but none of these share its delightful floral morphology of short, urceolate corollas. The rosettes offset and with some care will eventually form a mound of dozens or even hundreds of heads like the spectacular specimen the late Jerry Barad used to show every year at the Philadelphia Flower Show. By the time the Huntington acquired Jerry’s collection last year, the specimen had become a bit threadbare so was divided for this offering. This is especially significant as it is the clonotype from which Reynolds described the species (flowering material vouchered in August, 1957 as Descoings & Reynolds 8304). Rooted offsets of HBG 106049, Descoings 2440, collected in 1956, at the type locality, atop limestone cliffs, ca. 350 m altitude, 46 km NE of Toliara,1 km beyond Anjamala, on the SE side of the Fiherenana River, Toliara Province, Madagascar. $7

Photo © 2017 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 89 (3), May-June, 2017