Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fun With Exotic Angel Tags

I had a lucky break, or at least what I hope is a lucky break, a couple weeks ago, when the husband and I went to Cedar Rapids. We stopped at Lowe's, and I found a set of four plants, heavily discounted, that I had considered buying months earlier. It's a plant I really like, and almost never see for sale anywhere, but lack of space at home, plus lack of money, kept me from buying them at the time. But then we went back maybe a month and a half later, and not only were they still there, but they were about a quarter of the original price. So I bought them all. (I guess I wasn't really that bothered by the lack of space.)

Your task: to use the identifying information provided by the retailer (Lowe's) and wholesaler (Exotic Angel), to deduce what I bought.

The pot had a sticker on it identifying them as ferns:

And the tags in the pots said they were Calathea roseo-picta 'Angela:'

(They butchered the format for the botanical name, of course, but one assumes that's what they mean.)

Sooooooo . . . it is obviously which plant?




Why, Asplundia 'Jungle Drum,' (usually sold as Carludovica) of course. I mean, duh.

EA has a logo, but doesn't appear to have an official company motto yet. Their greenhouses, according to the website, have signs in them saying "Taking care of our customers is, taking care of our future," [sic] which is the kind of vapid, mispunctuated slogan that would make me want to slit my wrists within the first month of employment there, and which might be as close as they get to a company motto. Clearly they need something better. I propose "Names, schmames."

Seriously, EA: part of "taking care of your customers" is letting them know what the hell kind of plant you're selling them, and what they're supposed to do with it. So either take care of your damn future already, or get a new slogan.

And lose the comma either way: it is wrong, and it makes you look stupid.


Jan said...

Sorry, I don't know what these plants are, but I have had the same thing happen to me. I bought some cute frilly ferns from Lowe's and EA had erroneous information on those tags too. It is annoying when growers who are supposed to know plants are so cavalier about correct information.

Always Growing

CelticRose said...

I've learned never to trust tags on plants, particularly from big commercial nurseries that supply big box stores.

Diane said...

At least EA knew it was some sort of angiosperm. How much more detail do you need?!

Maybe their secret goal is to get people to think critically about plant taxonomy. Imagine how much you learned while hunting for the ID! And if the plant dies before you find the answer, well that's the price of knowledge :p

Jody Blue said...

I've been searching for a place to purchase a starter escargot begonia, do you know of any where online that has them? Thanks for your time.

sheila said...

As an alternative slogan for EA, may I propose, "Dedicated to the further decline of the English and Latin languages"?

I had a client once ask me about the little EA plant that had been on her desk for ages. It was a schefflera that was labeled as a ficus benjamina. Honestly!

I think I have seen more EA plants tagged incorrectly than correctly! And even if the tags are right, the cultural directions are either hopelessly vague or just downright WRONG.

I like your new plants. I've been tempted to buy one myself, but the one our Lowe's had (which incidentally wasn't labelled at all, and I hadn't yet learned what it was) was so waterlogged I didn't want to try to rehabilitate it.

We have one at the conservatory. Take heart, it's not too big yet.

mr_subjunctive said...

Jody Blue:

Maybe glasshouseworks? I don't know of any specific places, but GHW has a lot of different stuff, and I would assume Begonias are some of what they have.

CAROLANN said...

If you can't find an answer within a year and your plant dies... Lowe's gladly refunds your purchase price!!!

Karen715 said...

Ah yes, good old EA. I recently saw an attractive plant at Lowe's that I just had to have. I could tell right away that it was some kind of Philodendron. The EA label was for Scindapsus pictus argyraeus, which they give the common name of "Silver Philodendron." (I do hate common names that are based on incorrect Latin names--including "pothos" for Epipremnum. But I digress.) Being quite familiar with Scindapsus, I knew it certainly wasn't that. So after some searching I have discovered that my lovely new plant is actually a juvenile Philodendron brandtianum. (There are good pics at The Exotic Rainforest.)

Given some of the odd label snafus that occur with EA, I almost want to give them partial credit on this one. The leaves are silvery and it is actually a Philo!

Karen715 said...

P.S. to Jody Blue: has Begonia escargot, in 2.5-inch and 4-inch pots but they are rather pricey, IMO.

Nature Assassin said...

The labels may be crappy and often misplaced, but I do love that big box stores will occasionally carry random and rare plants. I found a fantastic euphorbia tirucalli "firesticks" at Lowe's the other day (love your blogs on euphorbia t, btw), for virtually $0. Yahtzee!

Lance said...

Been trying to catch up on reading, so went through all the last weeks posts this morning (instead of working like I should have been doing) - Loved all of that, and will try to comment on those later.

This looks like a coconut palm, didn't look up the true name, so I wasn't sure if you mentioned it in this post. But was this a test or did you give the real name somewhere.

Sorry, it's Monday and I'm out of it.

mr_subjunctive said...


No, they really are Carludovica 'Jungle Drum,' like I said in the post. Though that's a questionable ID itself, because there's a lot of debate about whether or not this is a Carludovica or something else (Asplundia or Cyclanthus being the most common alternatives). The taxonomic confusion is not EA's fault, of course, but the fact that they have a palm tagged as a Calathea is.

Nature Assassin:

Well, yeah, part of me wants to say, well, the plants are usually in pretty good shape, and frequently they're new or interesting, so it's not that big of a deal if they get the IDs wrong. The thing is, it doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal to get the tags right, either. Either they genuinely don't know what their plants are, which is just pathetic and shameful, or they know what they are but don't have the right tags at the right times and just go with whatever seems closest of the bad options available, in which case they need someone keeping better track of which tags have been ordered.

Or I guess the cynical possibility is that they know what they are and they have the right tags available but they are actually trying to get things wrong, so people will take bad care of their plants, the plants will die, and then they can sell more plants as replacements. I don't think that's probably the explanation, because usually the plant in the pot and the plant on the tag are at least similar, care-wise. I get the sense that someone somewhere is trying to make the best of a bad situation. But it's still ridiculous for such a situation to exist in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Aaaaargh, EA plant tags are an ongoing peeve, leading to frothing at the mouth and stomping around. Maybe I should look at it in a positive light, since I do get so much entertainment out of searching for a correct ID. What a way to get an education. Still, given that I'm over one hundred miles from a greenhouse - and a tiny one at that - I have my share of big box EAs. Your new plants are neat and no doubt the arithmetic of one is too expensive so I get four at 25% works - somehow. Do keep standing up for accuracy though, please.