lot has occurred in
the last few years concerning both the possible parentage and possible
originator of Hosta
‘Sum and Substance’, the iconic
classic cultivar, registered by the late Paul Aden in
1980, that’s on the short list of most popular hostas.
In my discussion here, I’ve drawn on an
excellent essay by Bob Solberg, Franklinton, NC, in the March 2013 “The
Gossip,” his nursery’s newspaper-type catalog; a scientific paper
“Sports and Hybrids of Triploid H.
‘Sum and Substance’ reveal chromosome losses and gains in all three apical
layers” that Dr. Ben J.M. Zonneveld (Leiden, the Netherlands) and
I published in Plant Systemics and
Evolution (2012) 298:1037-1043; an article by Bill Meyer in
edition of The Online
Hosta Journal; and information obtained by the AHS Cultivar
Origination Commission, some of which is included in its report in the
edition of The Online
Hosta Journal and reprinted in the Registrations
2012 issue of The
Hosta Journal (Vol. 44, No. R, p. 5). Also, I’ve extensively
edifying e-mail correspondence with Dr. Kevin C. Vaughn, now living in
said, I want to
emphasize up front that your comments are solicited. They are most
appreciated, and might stimulate a future article. Certainly, what’s
here is not the last word on this vexing and complex subject.
likely origin of Hosta ‘Sum and
Substance’ is a seedling of H. ‘Elatior’ (as a nonreduced gamete)
‘Bengee’, a golden-leaved H.
description of ‘Sum and Substance’, commonly shortened
to S&S, may be helpful. Its leaves
are huge, often larger than 20 inches long by 18 inches wide, with
substance. Foliage is oblong-ovate, somewhat dome-shaped, shiny to waxy
with slight-to-moderate corrugations. Leaf color is light green in
becoming chartreuse to medium gold, depending on light level, later in
season. Mature mound size can be immense, greater than three feet high
to six feet across. Leaf thickness is about 0.0125 inches (0.32 mm),
to measurements by Donald A. Rawson, Comstock Park, Michigan.
triploid (L1-L2-L3 = 3-3-3), indicated by flow cytometric measurement.
it has 90 chromosomes. Most hostas are diploids (2-2-2) having 60
Tetraploid (4-4-4) hostas have 120 chromosomes and are usually noted
thick leaf substance.
To my knowledge,
S&S has always been considered a seedling (hybrid), never a
triploid, a critical question then is: What might be S&S’s pod
parents that result in a triploid hybrid?
triploid can occur from crossing a diploid
with a tetraploid: half the number of diploid chromosomes = 30 and half
number of tetraploid chromosomes = 60. The result is 30 + 60 = 90
The problem with
diploid × tetraploid for S&S’s origin, however, is that the
seemingly available in the 1970s (when S&S likely originated)
was H. ventricosa. However this
always been considered an improbable parent.
proposed an intriguing explanation:
parents are diploids,
but one produced
gamete (sex cell).
That is, its
number of chromosomes did not divide in half during meiosis. Instead,
contributed its entire 60 chromosomes in fertilization. Thus, the 60
chromosomes of the nonreduced gamete, plus the 30 chromosomes from the
partner equals 90 chromosomes, and the hybrid would be triploid.
parentage was suggested in an article,
“Origin of H. ‘Sum and Substance’,”
that he and I authored in the 2011 edition of The
Online Hosta Journal. We also suggested that S&S is
hybrid from a yellow sport of H. sieboldiana (aka
H. ‘Sieboldiana’) × H. montana f. macrophylla. Both of
these parents are diploids and were available in the 70s.
was intended to “test the water” before being incorporated in our
in a research journal the following year. We were seeking comments and
discussions, from hosta aficionados before peer review by the
community. Not unexpectedly, considerable interest was generated with
varying opinions. Most responded by e-mail. Bill Meyer in Woodbury, CT,
lengthy phone conversation, composed a comprehensive commentary, “The
Background of ‘Sum and Substance’,” for the 2011
Online Hosta Journal. While this year, Bob Solberg, as
printed a discussion in his nursery’s publication.
noteworthy is that there were no negatives concerning the
hypothesis; seemingly, it was fully accepted.
was “a yellow sport of H. sieboldiana,” specifically
a yellow-leaved sport of H.
Williams’, such as H. ‘Golden
Sunburst’. This parent also would account for S&S’s foliage
choices for pod and pollen parents
were strongly challenged. Bill Meyer, Belgium’s
Hugo Philips and Danny Van Eechaute, Bob Solberg and other hosta
singled in on H. nigrescens
likely being the pod parent of ‘Sum and Substance’.
was that Mark Zilis in his spiral-bound The
Hosta Book (Rochelle,
Illinois: Q & Z Nursery, 2000), page 443, observed
that “S&S shows
Keep in mind
that ‘Elatior’ has shiny, light green leaves. So, if it were the pod
S&S’s yellowish leaf color needs explanation. (As an aside,
is usually listed as
a sport of H. nigrescens, it
is a hybrid of this species.)
For the pollen
parent, however, there was considerable diversity. Several thought H. hypoleuca (Urajiro Giboshi, the
White-Backed Hosta) was the likely candidate, apparently based on Mark
observing also, that “S&S shows trait of
H. hypoleuca.” Also mentioned was “a H. montana type.” Interestingly, only one
respondent speculated “a H.
with yellow leaves,” which would account for S&S’s leaf color.
So in our 2012 Plant Systemics and Evolution scientific
paper, Dr. Zonneveld and I stated:
origin of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’
is a seedling of Hosta ‘Elatior’ (as a
nonreduced gamete) and a yellow sport of Hosta
information, however, indicates the pollen parent is incorrect.
the manuscript for publication, the investigation of the AHS Cultivar
Origination Commission became available concerning the late Mrs.
Shaw of Weston, Mass., an AHS Life Member and an early and proficient
hybridizer, who died on June 30, 1975 at the age of 69.
informed the commission that he had visited the Shaw garden several
1969-1973 and observed that it was full of seedlings. “Florence Shaw,”
reported, “had some of the first plants of ‘Elatior’ available in the
and made liberal use of it as parent. She made crosses with it and H. ‘Bengee’ (J. Harrison - 2000), a
gold-leaved seedling of H.
(probably H. ‘Tokudama
Aureonebulosa’) and had huge gold, blue, and green seedlings. Mrs. Shaw
corresponded as to why the progeny was so much bigger than either
emphasized, “It would have been impossible for Aden to have gotten
and made the range of these hybrids. Mrs. Shaw’s seedlings were huge;
not created overnight. You don’t buy plants, create hybrids, and have
ready to register and distribute in a short time. Paul Aden was not
even an AHS
member in 1970!”
At the time,
‘Bengee’ was fairly rare and considered a special premium hosta for
“Paul Aden had no access to ‘Bengee’, as that plant was only given to a
of friends of Professor Jamison Harrison,” Vaughn contended. (Note: A companion item on H.
‘Bengee’ is slated for a “What’s in a
Hosta Name? Part LVIII” column in the Spring 2014 issue of The Hosta Journal [Vol. 45, No. 1].)
“I saw plants in
Florence Shaw’s garden that were identical to the plants later
Paul Aden, ‘Sum and Substance’ being one,” Vaughn recalled. “Foliage
was not as
yellow as usually seen with S&S because it was grown in very
It was more chartreuse than gold.” Now known is that S&S is a
just make sure it gets plenty of water.
In fall 1974 and
spring 1975, Paul Aden took plants from Florence Shaw’s garden, and
named, registered, and introduced them as his own hybrids. The AHS
Origination Commission concluded that ‘Sum and Substance’ was one of
recommended to the International Registrar for the Genus Hosta
that Florence M. Shaw be credited as its originator. This was
accepted, and we’ll now be seeing
‘Sum and Substance’ (F. Shaw - 1980)
publications, reference books, and nursery catalogs. Case in point:
Gardens’ Summer 2013-Spring 2014 Wholesale Catalog cites (Shaw) in the
description of ‘Sum and Substance’; previous catalogs cited (Aden).
Note that Paul
Aden’s registration date for S&S of 1980 remains. No doubt some
incorrectly assume Florence Shaw registered this cultivar in that year.
more explanatory and educational commentary by the Hosta Registrar or
Nomenclature Committee would be helpful.
registration of S&S, Paul Aden remains Registrant. In addition,
Nominant and Introducer. At this writing, I do not know how ONIR will
handled in the official online AHS Hosta Registry, in particular
year (2012 or maybe 2013), when the registration was amended to include
as Originator, will be included.
In summing up,
Bob Solberg in his essay asked, “Could H.
‘Bengee’ be the yellow parent of H.
‘Sum and Substance’?” The answer is yes.
“I definitely got ‘Tokudama’ types out
of S&S,” Kevin
Vaughn pointed out, “which fits with Florence Shaw’s cross of H. nigrescens
‘Elatior’ × H. ‘Bengee’.”
S&S’s leaf coloring comes from ‘Bengee’.
Zonneveld and I waited a year or so before submitting our Plant Systemics and Evolution paper for
publication, we surely
would have written:
amended registration for ‘Sum and Substance’ in the official online AHS
Registry will cite Florence Shaw as originator,
do not expect any specific parentage, e.g.,
‘Bengee’, to be included. Likely, it will just say “Selected seedling”
continue to say “Parentage unknown.”
An item titled “Thoughts
on Crediting Kevin Vaughn and
Florence Shaw as Originators of Some of Paul Aden’s Registrations – 1”
slated for a “Reflections: 2013” column in the Spring 2014 issue of The Hosta Journal [Vol. 45, No. 1].)