The petiole is the stalk that connects the leaf blade to the crown
beneath the soil surface. Here, we are looking for any unique
characteristics that will help identify the cultivar. In recent
years, the most common trait that differentiates petioles is the
presence of the color red. This may be in the form of red spots or
may be a more solid reddish to purplish pigmentation.
Hosta longipes and
pycnophylla have petioles with red to purple dots on them. As
hybridizers continue to emphasize this characteristic, they are
hoping to move the red color further up into the leaf blade itself.
Who knows, we may have red leafed hostas not too far in the future.
Is that good or bad? You decide.
List of Hostas
b) Red Flower
Flower Scapes and d)
There is also a trait called "no apparent
petiole". Certain plants such as H. 'Gosan Lettuce' or H. 'Ginsu Knife' have leaf blades
that continue more or less uninterrupted down the sides of the
petiole. Instead of having a petiole that resembles a celery stalk,
these types appear to have "wings" on the leaf stalk.
June Colley of the U.K.
wrote an article in
Hosta Journal (2018 Vol. 49 No. 2) titled, "A Study of
Red Petioles in Our Hanging Hosta Garden." She did an in
depth discussion of the role of anthocyanin in the red
color of plants including the petioles of hostas. June
included the following chart giving examples of
different pigmentation patterns she has observed:
||Hostas with little red pigments or those
with pigments confined to the lower end of
the stem: 'The
||Hostas that display a faded-look,
flecking not well-defined: 'Doctor
Fu Manchu', 'Jaws',
||Red or purple pigments found on the back
of the stem only: 'Elvis
H. sieboldii f. spathulata,
||Red or purple pigments found back to
back on the stems (occurs in majority):
H. jonesii, 'Blueberry
of Twenty', 'Violetta',
Linda Smith', 'Plum
||Speckles or flecks distinctive and well
spaced (not overlapping), more attractive: 'Red
H. okamotoi, 'Cinnamon
||Pigmentation dense, appearing solid in
large areas: 'Sugar
van de Laar'
||Pigments with bluish purple tone, some
more distinct in late summer: 'Beet
||Stem margin pigmentation different from
centre (also flecks in both parts differ in
There are many more
cultivars that have red petioles. If you would like to
add your opinion on where other red petioled hostas fit
in this chart, please send us an
EMAIL. We will add your suggested cultivars to the
list along with your name.
To refresh your memory,
here is a list of hostas with