Species or Cultivar? The names of plants have evolved over the time that they have been known to mankind. A science called taxonomy has also evolved methods of trying to make sense of the inevitable confusion which has been multiplied since humans began to consciously cross breed plants to form new types.

Hostas have long been mired in this name game confusion. A huge step toward bringing order to this chaos occurred in 1991 with the publication of a monograph named, The Genus Hosta Giboshi Zoku by Wolfram George Schmid. This large, scholarly, yet familiar, book pulled together historical facts, scientific and horticultural practice to give a sense of order to Hostas.

Hosta is, of course, the plant genus. Even this took a while to develop with the plants being known as Funkia until fairly recently. The next level down, the species, was the area where Schmid had the most impact.

The term "species" seems to have a lot of different meanings in the biological world. However, a simple definition might be that a species includes plants (or animals) that exist and reproduce in the wild or that there is some type of record or proof that they once existed in the wild. This would include evidence such as herbarium samples, fossils or other findings.

Schmid came to the conclusion that a number of hostas that were previously thought to be species did not meet this definition. These plants were "created" under cultivation by humans with no evidence that they every occurred in the wilds. So, he "demoted" them to cultivar status. Instead of having a name written in italics such as Hosta fortunei which would indicate a species status, they are now properly written as Hosta 'Fortunei' the same as any other cultivar such as H. 'Sum and Substance'.

There are several groups of hostas which have had their cultivar names altered due to this change. For instance, plants formerly known as H. fortunei 'Hyacinthina' are now correctly called H. 'Fortunei Hyacinthina'.

Species changed to Cultivar status include:

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