Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle Results

The husband suggested photoshopping a belt, tiara, or trophy -- or all three! -- into the picture, in honor of the win, but I'm afraid I'm not skilled enough to do that, so you'll have to imagine. This, incidentally, is my Schlumbergera 'Caribbean Dancer,' as of November 4 this year.

Yes, well. It will surprise almost no one that Schlumbergera cvv. defeated Haworthia spp. in match 7.1. The score was 88 to 54. In so doing, Schlumbergera also wins the Rumble overall.

So let's ponder where it all went so terribly, terribly wrong.1, 2

I know a lot of people were disappointed with the final two choices. This was probably inevitable, given the way that the tournament worked. I mean, 127 of the options were going to lose, and there's a pretty good chance that your favorite was going to be one of those 127, just statistically.3 I think maybe the expectation is that the group of contestants in each round will steadily get more and more awesome until one that's super amazingly awesome wins, but that was probably never going to be the case, because of everybody having different ideas about what makes a plant super amazingly awesome.

We've already raised the idea that maybe it won partly because we're in the middle of Schlumbergera's blooming period now, and it therefore was more on people's minds or whatever. Might well be the case, especially since it wouldn't have taken that many people flipping their votes to have knocked it out of the competition. Schlumbergera won match 5.2 against Phalaenopsis / Doritaenopsis by only 12 votes (out of 136), and match 6.1 against Saintpaulia by only 6 votes (out of 124), so even a small seasonal effect might have kept Schlumbergera from advancing and resulted in a different winner.

There's also the theory that while Schlumbergera might not be anybody's absolute favorite plant, it might have won by being less polarizing than some of the other possibilities. I mean, plenty of people think Schlumbergeras are too common to be interesting, but I don't recall ever hearing anybody say they just despise them, unlike a lot of the other contestants. Maybe being loved is less the key to winning these things than merely being not-hated.

I pondered the option of having a direct-vote poll asking who should have won, to see if a different winner would emerge, but I don't think Polldaddy would support a 128-option poll, and even if it did, I don't know that it'd be reasonable to expect anybody to read through all the options and choose some of them. I thought about trying to cut the list down (perhaps to only those plants that received 45% of the vote or more in the first round), but that still left 75 choices. So instead, I'll leave it up to the comments. If you want to pitch me a list of five (or fewer) plants that you feel deserved to win the tournament (Schlumbergera can be included too, if you think it deserved to win), leave it in the comments and we'll see if that looks any different. The full list of participants is here.

I'd also be interested in what people think it "means" that Schlumbergera won. How/why did this happen? Should we interpret this to mean that we have a group consensus that Schlumbergera is the best houseplant of all time? If not, why not? Or, you know, leave whatever comments you want: comments about the Rumble, comments about Schlumbergera, comments about unjustly robbed plants, links to photos of a Schlumbergera with a photoshopped tiara/belt/trophy, whatever.


1 I'm fine with Schlumbergera winning, personally: I think they're perfectly nice plants and have never had any huge problems with them. (On the other hand, the very similar-looking Hatiora cvv., sold as "Easter cactus" or Rhipsalidopsis, seems determined to shatter and shatter and shatter until there's nothing left of it. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, but damned if I can figure out what. But I digress.)
2 I plan to post a full list of the matches and scores tomorrow, because people had asked, but that should be the last Rumble-related post, unless / until we do this again many months from now.
3 The alternative would have been if there'd been a huge group of people who all adored the same plant. This would have made for a really boring tournament, since every time that plant came up for a vote, it would have blown the competition away, making it perfectly obvious which plant was going to win. I like the way it actually did work out better.


Ricardo Torres Kompen said...

Well, I think Schlumbergera did well and deserved to win. Kudos to you for all the effort and time you put into this, and thanks for keeping this blog. I don't comment much, but never miss a post. Too bad you're not on Twitter anymore -it seems I spend all my time there. When I am not working, of course. ;)

Jean Campbell said...

There is a picture on Pinterest of a Schlumbergera in a bonsai container. I got all interested because I have both a cutting and a bonsai pot. Further searching revealed that the poor plant died soon after the original photo was made. My cutting remains in a regular pot. It has four buds.

Anonymous said...

I think Shlumb. are pretty cool, though I don't currently have any. I admit I voted for the Haworthia, but I'm not devastated. I was a little surprised that the only plant I was truly sorry to see fall off the contestant list was the Oncidiums. The whole voting and elimination process was fun!

Liza said...

I know this was a lot of extra work for you, but I found it highly entertaining. So thank you!

Now I'm gonna want a houseplant version of the NCAA's March Madness. 64 houseplants, one assigned to each school, single elimination until there's one college champion houseplant. You'll go ahead and do that for us, right, mr_s?

danger garden said...

Which plant won the top honors was unimportant to me...I just really enjoyed the proces, thank you!

Tom said...

This was shockingly entertaining all along. I'm glad Schlumbergera won, it's one of the few plants I voted for that actually did well.

Long Haired Lady Rider said...

I agree, I totally loved the process -- and thank you for doing the work! It was really fun, until a plant that I loved got knocked out. Then I was pissed off LOL.

Schlumbergera took out both Saintpaulia and Phaelenopsis, which were the ones that I expected to win. I really wanted Saintpaulia to win and was really surprised when it got taken out. Schlumbergera was therefore always going to be on my s---list from then on.

I would not have been surprised by some ubiquitous plant like Sansevieria or Spathiphylum winning.

Aglaonema would have been just fine with me -- totally unfussy and lots of patterning variety. I would have been very happy if any Gesneriad had won (Saintpaulia, Episcia, Columnea, etc.)

I'd like to know what Mr. Subjunctive thought would happen, and what he wished would have happened.

And if I have spelling errors in here, Oh well -- shoot me.

mr_subjunctive said...


How would I decide which plants went with which school, though?

Long Haired Lady Rider:

The one I wanted to win (but knew wouldn't) was Aglaonema; the two I thought had a good chance of winning were Saintpaulia and Schlumbergera, one of which actually did win.

(My overall skill at predicting the winners varied a lot but was at least never below 50%: I called 66% of round 1 correctly, 75% of round 2, 94% of round 3, 63% of round 4, 50% of round 5, 50% of round 6, and then was 100% correct on round 7.)

I was most surprised by:

Hippeastrum didn't make it nearly as far as I thought it would (knocked out in round 2 by Agave spp.).
Philodendron hederaceum beating Aglaonema cvv. in the fourth round was a big WTF moment for me.
Anthurium cvv. losing to Maranta leuconeura in the first round still doesn't make sense, but then I think I've gotten atypically bad specimens of Maranta.
Agave beating the Cattleya alliance in the first round was a shocker too. (I voted for Agave; I just figured everybody else would vote for Cattleya.)
The inexplicable love y'all have for Echeveria and Aeonium is weird.
I was also surprised that certain common/"boring" plants made it as far as they did (e.g. Sansevieria trifasciata, Spathiphyllum, Philodendron hederaceum, and especially Haworthia).
Desert cacti did a lot less well than I anticipated (Cereus peruvianus lasted the longest, and it only made it to round 3.).

I do kinda wonder what would have happened if some of the grouped plants (contestants representing numerous species or cultivars, like Echeveria et al.) had been single instead. I mean, it sort of had to be organized the way it was, because the alternative would have been for a 2048-competitior tournament or something, which would have lasted for years, but it never seemed entirely fair to have a single plant like Coffea arabica getting the same consideration as the whole genus Oncidium and everything that can interbreed with Oncidium.

orchideya said...

I was sort of disappointed when all the orchids were kicked out and kind of surprised that Shlumbergera won - not my first choice from all the plants... But I liked the game. Thank you, mr_subjunctive.

CelticRose said...

This was fun! :)

If you do it again in the future, I'd like to see the plants split between those usually bought for their flowers and those usually bought for their foliage. I think some of the plants with pretty flowers had an unfair advantage when they came up against a perfectly nice foliage plant.

Michael said...

My personal favorite, Hedera helix, lost right away. That said, Schlumbergera is fine too.

Anonymous said...

The process of voting itself made me look at my own plant collecting obsessions in new ways.

When I voted for/against a plant, I had to think deeply: Why do I have 12 of those things, if I am not really so wild about them, when compared to these plants I don't own. Is it enough to have many individual species or hybrids of the plants in question and enjoy the diversity in form amoung them? On some plants I enjoy the spread of traits more than the single individual plants themselves. (Interesting, who knew?) If I voted against a certain plant, yet the example I own is a dearly treasured specimen, I was torn. Where is my loyalty? I had to assess why I held the plant in such high regard. And since some of my plants look terrible and under stress, is it the memory of it in its finer days, or the act of nurturing it back to health that interests me now. Does it look that bad because I have way too many plants?

Now with meristem cloning recently bringing down the cost of a blooming phalaenopsis to $7-$15, instead of three times that, when I joined the local orchid society, I purchase flashy higher quality phals more often than anything else I own. Yet I voted against it. (huh?)

Did anyone cringe or get surprised with the vote tallies, appearing when it was instantly revealed? I often said to myself, see I thought that plant fad had run its course. Or "yes, I was right!" (strange)

Great idea, and as always a wonderful blog, I visit here daily!

Your Stimulus Package (Seattle)

Anonymous said...

So this means after the Zombie Apocalypse, I'm stuck with a Xmas Cactus. Meh. Why not a lovely, shiny Anthurium? Or a gorgeous big Philo Selloum? Whatever - it was a ton of fun doing this poll (seeing all my favourites knocked out one by one ;)) but I think the decidedly weird outcome was because the parameters were so lax. Everybody was voting for different reasons. For all we know, Haworthia and Echevaria made it as far as they did because a bunch of people voted for the plants that need the least amount of water in the winter. I guess those folks will be leaving soon for Florida - have a good time, bring us back something nice.

Thanks Mr. S! I hope we can do this again.


Pat said...

Fascinating. Thanks.

Paul said...

While I think some of you folks have totally f-upped plant tastes (just joking ;) ), I very much enjoyed this "contest". It was interesting -- and sometimes bewildering -- to see which plant was raking in the votes.

Some time down the line, a Zombie Apocalypse plant poll could be a hoot (though off the top of my head I believe I know what plant group would most likely win).

Thanks for all the work you did on this, Mr. S!

flaminga said...

Thank you for the fun tournament! The Christmas cactus is a worthy winner, with its pretty flowers coming up in the dark months when we crave them. But if you ask for "best houseplant ever", my choice is Cyperus alternifolia. Grows fast and strong and tall, up to six feet, planted half-way up in tall floor vases which we simply fill with water to the top when leaving town for a week or so. They are a striking, almost aristocratic presence in our humble NYC rental apt.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about this tournament until today, so I don't really know how well anything did, but I do know I love my Schlumbergera. I've only had it for about 6 months, but I've not only kept it alive, but gotten it to flower, it doesn't even take a lot of work and isn't demanding about water, and the unique, sort of hummingbird-shaped flowers (seriously, when I look at one from the side, I see the shape of a hummingbird or maybe a fairy)... it's a common plant, but there are reasons for that!

And because it's common and easy to keep alive, it's also easy to recommend to other people and share the love.